A balmy Saturday of shopping on the Magnificent Mile turned to chaos when dozens of teens reportedly swarmed the tony retail district in a 'wilding' scene that resulted in multiple arrests — and a separate nearby incident that led to several more.
The Chicago Police News Affairs office told HuffPost in all, 17 arrested people were arrested in the Saturday evening scene at Michigan Avenue near Huron around 7:30 p.m., including 15 juveniles and two adults. All were charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct.
Police aren't calling Saturday's incidents a "mob action" after teens harassed pedestrians and shoppers, purposely bumping into them, jumping on people and according to one eyewitness to CBS Chicago, even assaulting a police officer on horseback.
Community activist Andrew Holmes, who was in the area with family at the time told ABC Chicago there were more than "300-400 teens just walking the streets," thought cops didn't provide an estimate of people on the scene. Holmes praised the police's quick efforts, adding,
"We have seen a good amount of teenagers arrested, and I caution those parents that want to point the finger at the Chicago Police Department. Point the finger at your teenagers for being down there assaulting these people down here."
Less than an hour earlier, DNAinfo Chicago reports a separate incident in which 11 individuals were involved in a robbery involving two female victims at the nearby State/Lake Red Line stop.
A police spokeswoman told DNA the group coordinated the trip downtown on Twitter, and many in the "mishmash group of people" had never previously met before Saturday.
All but two of the people in the group were minors, Greer said. All 11 were charged with battery, while two of the minors were charged with strong-arm robbery, Greer said.
Myriad incidents of "wilding," "flash mob"-style robberies and other disturbances have cropped up in recent years whenever the weather gets warmer. Last summer, a Wicker Park clothing store was robbed of nearly $2,000 in merchandise during a flash mob-style robbery at a crowded street festival.
In New York, police are hoping to stem rumored gang-related wilding in Times Square and Midtown rumored to happen on Easter Sunday. Authorities are steeling themselves for what has historically been the gang initiation day for the city's street crews.