A woman flees from the car under mob attack on Saturday night, March 13, 2021, at the Mariano’s parking lot, 3145 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago.

Mob Destroys Car in Street Racer Fracas at Mariano's Parking Lot

Published March 17, 2021

Street racing and huge congregations of young people came roaring back to the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago with the return of temperate weather, including mob action that destroyed a car in the Riverside Square parking lot in front of the Mariano's grocery store at 3145 S. Ashland Ave.

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Numerous videos posted to social media showed both drag racing and stunt driving on Ashland Avenue the nights of Friday and Saturday, March 13-14, 2021, as well as a large group of people who chased down, blocked in and demolished a car in the Mariano's parking lot on Saturday night. Participants can be heard on video stating the car had been involved in a hit-and-run accident.

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Street racing, stunt driving and the March 13, 2021, mob attack were recorded to dozens of social media accounts' videos, including as depicted in these muted clips.

According to community policing sources in the Chicago Police Department's 9th District, no arrests have yet been recorded in connection with the weekend drag racing or mob incident.

Ongoing Problem

Street racing and large, late-night congregations of people and cars — often numbering in the hundreds of vehicles — have been an ongoing issue for years at the Riverside Square and River's Edge parking lots on the 3100 block of South Ashland Avenue. The large, unsecured parking lots include out-buildings housing 24/7 restaurants, as well as parking areas for businesses that are closed at night.

"Drag racing within the 9th District has been a chronic issue," said Tactical Lieutenant Joe Mark. He, along with other 9th District officers and 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, spoke to this problem at an online Coffee With a Cop discussion on March 4, 2021.

We Don't Chase

“Unfortunately, it’s an issue every weekend," Mark said. 'It seems like when there’s nice weather, there’s hundreds of cars out there."

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"There are people that are reckless, and then there are people that are completely reckless, without regard for their own lives or the lives of others," Cardenas said.

"It's hard to find one solution," 9th District Sgt. John Verta said during the Coffee with a Cop discussion. Even after focused enforcement and ticket-writing for street racers, he said, "after a period of time, it picked right back up to where it was."

Dangerous for the Public

Verta lauded property managers for Riverside Square and Riverside Plaza, who have worked to install speed bumps and no trespassing signs, he said. Police plan to coordinate with them this spring and summer to mitigate issues on the property, he said.

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Mark noted past interdiction efforts, including one arrest of a street racer after he was followed by a Chicago Police Department helicopter. "When we approach them, they flee," he said. "We don't chase — it's dangerous for the public."

From the Suburbs

"They’re coming from the suburbs," Mark said. This is based on what officers see when they stop McKinley Park street racers to write tickets, he said.

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Verta noted the easy access to the nearby I-55 Stevenson Expressway, supported by exits at South Ashland and South Damen avenues.

Mark also noted related problems in the Chicago Police Department's 1st District, especially street racing taking place on Lower Wacker Drive. The 9th and 1st districts, along with other community partners, will be coordinating efforts to target the street racing problem this spring and summer, he said.

A 2020 episode of the Off the Cuff YouTube channel features Chicago's street racers, including many scenes filmed at the Riverside Square and River's Edge parking lots.

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Audrey Thibeau
I can hear it going on for about an hour before I hear police sirens. Perhaps a bunch of fake camera on the parking lot light posts would be enough to keep squeezing tires away.
Audrey Thibeau
And then maybe my idea would be bad to post online!
Justin Kerr
This is a tough situation. As many have noted, there's an element of giving young people a place to go and to have something to do. Thanks for your comment!
I have been hearing it every night for a month now. And live 6 blocks away from Ashland.
Justin Kerr
Thanks for your comment. We are also quite a ways away from Mariano's and the general scene, but I hear it regularly, especially on nice weekend nights when the windows are open. The loudest I think are the purposeful back-fires from some of the specifically tuned cars: There were a bunch of calls on this last summer from people who thought it was an automatic weapon.

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