CHICAGO Gang violence may have caused an early start to this year's Independence Eve fireworks. Chicago Now blogger Mike Doyle wrote that the downtown fireworks display, which was scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, went off at around 8:50 p.m.—possibly to drown out the noise of gunshots. Other local news media and blogs have differing takes on how much violence occurred in the city that night.
While the Chicago Sun-Times referred to this year's holiday as relatively “peaceful,” despite the arrest of a local gang member who attempted to bring a shotgun into the Taste of Chicago food festival in Grant Park, the Chicago Tribune reported arrests near Buckingham Fountain before the fireworks began and, later, a “melee" that required some 30 police officers to break it up. According to Chicago Now, neither paper made mention of the fireworks' early start time.
The Chicago Police Department's watchdog blog, Second City Cop, posted a mention of the fireworks' early start time, as well as a roundup of violence—such as multiple fights and a 50-member gang strolling through the Taste of Chicago grounds—that took place before and after the display. The post also alleges police commanders attempted to cover up the incidents.