Posted: May 23, 2023
I’m deeply saddened by the flash mob incident that occurred Saturday at the Tinley Park Chamber of Commerce’s Armed Forces Carnival. That evening, about 400 teenagers responded to a call on social media to disrupt the event and cause general chaos by starting fights with each other and running through the crowd.
In addition to scaring a lot of families and young children who were trying to enjoy a fun night out, the incident resulted in a police officer being injured and our police department issuing citations to several out-of-town teenagers for fighting in public.
We unfortunately were also forced to cancel Sunday’s carnival after police discovered that another flash mob was being planned on social media that day. It was a tough decision, but the safety of our residents and visitors is paramount and takes precedence over everything else.
We only have to look as far as similar incidents at the Lombard Spring Fever Carnival and the 31st Street Beach in Chicago to see that these flash mobs are a growing trend that we must be prepared for.
I’m incredibly proud of how the Tinley Park Police Department responded that night. Thanks to their quick response and the aid of several neighboring police departments, we were able to get things under control and stop a bad situation from escalating into something much worse. The event could have spilled over into the surrounding neighborhood, but fortunately our officers were able to contain the incident to the 80th Avenue grounds. There was also very little damage caused to property, and all of our officers acted with the highest level of professionalism. Public safety was their priority during the incident, and they were fantastic in that regard.
Having said that, you can expect to see even tighter controls in the future during big events such as this. Practices such as bag checks, defined event perimeters, youth supervision policies and other safety measures will be an ongoing part of large-scale events that have the potential to attract large crowds. It’s a sad reality, but gone are the days when we could hold an open event of this size without these measures in place.
I also wanted to address some of the horrendous comments I’ve seen on social media in regards to this incident and the races of those involved. The Village does not condone hate speech of any kind. I implore all of you to conduct your interactions on social media with the same civility and respect you’d expect in return.
I was also very disappointed to learn that State Sen. Michael Hastings began contacting the local press shortly after the Armed Forces Carnival incident asking that they publish stories on how Tinley Park failed to secure the event and how it had to be evacuated. At a time when he should have been offering us assistance, he chose instead to sow division within our community and spread misinformation. The only way to get through tough situations like this is by working together, not through covert attacks like the one Sen. Hastings attempted.
For those of you who had tickets to Sunday’s carnival and would like to request a refund, please contact Windy City Amusements at (630) 443-4547 or the Tinley Park Chamber of Commerce at (708) 532-5700. Please note that, as this was not a Village event, Village staff are unable to issue refunds and will refer all callers to Windy City Amusements.
Thank you for your time, and stay safe.