Nearly Half of All Dispersal Orders to Enforce Stay-at-Home Order Took Place on West Side: Data

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Nearly half of the more than 8,700 verbal orders issued by Chicago police to enforce stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 took place on the West Side, according to data provided to WTTW News by the Chicago Police Department.

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Chicago police identified the location of 8,714 dispersal orders issued by officers between March 24 and May 31 for violating stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by WTTW News.

The three West Side police districts that make up the Area 4 detective area recorded 4,154 dispersal orders, or 47% of the total dispersals, according to the data.

According to the 2010 Census, 44% of West Side residents are Black, 34% of residents are Latino and 17% of residents are White.

Area 4 is made up of the Ogden, Harrison and Austin police districts, and includes neighborhoods that have long ranked among the city’s most violent.

The Harrison Police District had the most dispersals of any police district, making up more than 17% of all enforcement actions related to the state and city stay-at-home orders in Chicago, according to police data.

In comparison, Area 3 — which is made up of six North Side and downtown police districts — recorded just 1,966 dispersal orders, despite covering a much larger area of the city.

Area 2, which is made up of four Far South Side police districts, recorded just 340 dispersal orders, the fewest of any detective area in the city, according to police data.

The 22nd Police District, which is part of Area 2 and includes the neighborhoods of Beverly and Mount Greenwood, had only four dispersal orders recorded, the lowest of any police district. Those neighborhoods are home to many Chicago firefighters, police officers and city workers.

Lightfoot said she ordered Chicago police officials to equitably enforce the stay-at-home order, which she issued March 21 to stop the spread of the coronavirus and allowed to lapse on May 29 after the apparent peak of the pandemic.

However, the mayor has faced repeated complaints that White Chicagoans were allowed to gather in defiance of the order on the North Side, while Black and Latino Chicagoans were forced to disperse by police on the South and West sides of the city.

“The reality is the Chicago Police Department is active and engaged all over the city and doing it with an eye toward equity, and I would have it no other way as mayor of this city,” Lightfoot said May 26. “I can tell you, based upon the statistics we’ve been keeping for weeks, those dispersal orders are happening all over the city — and yes, in White areas, in Latinx areas, in moneyed areas of the city.” 

Lightfoot did not respond to questions from WTTW News about the data and the disparity between the number of dispersal orders issued on the West Side in comparison to the North Side and Far South Side.

Thirteen people were arrested in Chicago for violating the stay-at-home order, after ignoring dispersal orders and citations. All but one of those who were arrested are Black, according to records obtained by WTTW News.

All of those arrests took place in West Garfield Park and Humboldt Park on April 2 and April 8, according to records obtained by WTTW News.

The police department cited 14 people and five churches for violating the stay-at-home order. One man was cited three times in West Garfield Park, according to the data.

Of the 14 cited by police, two were cited for violating the stay-at-home order on Chicago’s North Side. The rest of the people cited were on Chicago’s South and West sides when they violated the stay-at-home order, according to police data.

Data provided by the Chicago police did not identify the race of the people cited for violating the stay-at-home order.

Three churches in Albany Park and Belmont Cragin were cited four times for holding services in defiance of the stay-at-home order, according to police data.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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