By Bob Uphues
In the wake of widespread looting on the Magnificent Mile and elsewhere in Chicago during the early morning hours of Aug. 10, local officials are taking precautions to prevent any violence, vandalism and looting from spilling over into other areas.
North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road, has been closed for the day, and barricades have been erected at the entrances to prevent vehicles from entering the parking lot.
On the east side of the mall a little after 11 a.m., the entrance at 25th Street was blocked by a pair of police squad cars, with two officers directing motorists back to Harlem Avenue.
"We're taking action based on what's happening in the city and just taking precautions for any civil unrest," said North Riverside Police Chief Carlos Garcia. "We just want to get ahead of it."
Garcia said there was "no confirmed intelligence" that North Riverside Park Mall was being singled out as a location where trouble might happen. Police are monitoring social media, Garcia said, adding that North Riverside Park Mall officials have activated a plan to bring more security personnel to the shopping center.
"We don't want what previously happened to take place," said Garcia, referring to the looting of the mall and many other businesses in the vicinity of Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road on May 31 amid nationwide protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
"We're not taking any chances," Garcia said.
The village of North Riverside, meanwhile, has issued a community alert, sent to residents via the Everbridge emergency notification system.
"We are also currently coordinating efforts with local and state law enforcement agencies for increased police presence in town," said Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. in the message. "Since this situation is constantly changing, there may be the need for temporary road and store closures in our village.
"I am asking residents to stay alert and call 911 immediately if they see anything unusual or concerning."