Local

Tourist mugged leaving Chicago's blues fest

Monday, June 11, 2012

Seven juveniles, ranging in age from 13 to 16, were charged with felony mob action Sunday in connection with an attack in downtown Chicago that sent at least two people to the hospital.

Charges are pending against one adult in the attack on Saturday night in the 500-block of North State Street.

There was little concern for safety among music lovers at this year's Blues Fesitval as police investigate at least three separate attacks that happened downtown Saturday night.

"Things can happen whether it's a fest day or any day," Blues Festival attendee Bernita Echols.

As crowds left Chicago's free blues festival, a male tourist walking in the 500-block of North State Street was allegedly accosted by a group of attackers. Detectives confirm three adults and seven juveniles were involved in the mugging. The 40-year-old victim is being treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for a broken jaw.

About a half hour later, squads responded to calls for help near State and Lake in the Loop. There, a couple was allegedly confronted by several attackers at the CTA's Red Line Station.

Reports that the two were robbed and beaten remain unconfirmed as some riders remain concerned.

"My guard is always up," said Red Line rider Kim Norah. "My guard is always up when I'm in public."

"To be honest, I'm not that surprised," said Red Line rider Eric Zerda. "Where I'm from, it's not uncommon for that to happen. But I obviously wouldn't want that to happen anymore."

And neither does performer D. Banks. The standup comedian's back in town for the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival

"We want people to have fun, to enjoy themselves and be safe, not to come out and worry about someone robbing them or jumping on them or taking something from them," he said.

The attacks come as city officials prepare Chicago for the busy upcoming summer festival season. Thomas Hunt of the Guardian Angels said his organization plans to hand out safety tip sheets to the public and be more visible.

In the meantime, Hunt said and people should pay attention to their surroundings.

"When you are zoned out, got the headsets on, you're not paying attention to what's going on around you, you may see but you don't hear...people are watching you, but you aren't paying attention," Hunt said.

But with several more Grant Park events like Lollapalooza and the Taste of Chicago coming up, Rhonda Smith said she's not letting anyone or anything ruin her summer.

"I don't have any concerns," she said from the Blues Festival. "I think it's great. Everywhere I look around I see police are there. No one's doing anything crazy down here."

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