Johnson Denies Migrants Were Moved From Police Station Due to Lollapalooza

Video: The WTTW News Spotlight Politics team breaks down the day’s biggest stories. (Produced by Alexandra Silets)

After migrants were moved from the 1st District police station, Mayor Brandon Johnson said the relocation was not due the station’s proximity to Grant Park, where Lollapalooza will be held this weekend, but rather because another shelter site became available.

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Johnson during a news conference Wednesday afternoon denied that the four-day music fest led to the group being relocated this week to the Broadway Armory in Edgewater, which just opened as a shelter site for migrants.

“No one was moved as a result of Lollapalooza,” Johnson said. “We are transitioning people into shelters. As a city, do we want people living in police stations? Is that acceptable? It’s not.”

As migrants were moved Tuesday from the 1st District station in the South Loop — less than 2 miles from Grant Park — a Chicago Tribune reporter shared a video online of city workers outside that station discarding some items left behind by migrants who’d been moved.

Johnson shared a statement on social media later that evening saying those were items “that individuals and families chose to leave behind, or could not take into shelter, such as mattresses and other bulky items.”

“Everyone who transitioned understood shelter space is limited, and was able to take essential items,” Johnson said on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that more than 100 people were moved from the 1st District station to the Broadway Armory. According to Johnson, organizers who assisted those migrants in their move said the families were “all thrilled” that the city was providing “far more stability.”

Johnson and Interim Police Superintendent Fred Waller have both said migrants need more permanent accommodations instead of the various Chicago police stations where many people have been living.

Last week, city officials told a City Council panel there were nearly 950 men, women and children still being forced to sleep on the floors of police stations across the city and at O’Hare and Midway airports, despite efforts to move migrants into shelters as quickly as possible.

Johnson said Wednesday Cook County is providing “critical health care services” for migrants and that the city has spoken with leaders from cities in and around the county to see if additional housing locations could be made available.

He said he believes there is “some real support on the horizon.”

“Transitioning individuals out of police stations is still top of mind,” Johnson said. “Finding more adequate places for shelter for families, that is top of mind. Having full wraparound services for families who wish to call the city of Chicago their home, that is still top of mind.”

Heather Cherone contributed to this report.

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