Makeshift migrant camps overwhelm Chicago police precincts


Shocking video shows Chicago police precincts overrun by makeshift shelters for migrants — with already overworked cops complaining of “zero assistance” from the city.

The footage filmed by videographer Rebecca Brannon on Sunday shows row-upon-row of makeshift beds on the floors of precinct houses, with young kids among those sleeping or running around and playing.

Their personal belongings, some in plastic trash bags, are littered around the lobbies and mounted high against glass windows as other migrants lounge around outside listening to music.

Brannon said she found the camps while visiting eight different stations Sunday across the sanctuary city, which has already declared a state of emergency over the overwhelming influx of border crossers.

Family sleeping in a Chicago police precinct.
Migrant families, many with young kids, are taking over precincts across Chicago with no other shelters available.
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“I’m told just about every station is like this across the city,” she wrote alongside another clip showing trash strewn outside one station.

“The 12th precinct alone has at times seen over 100 migrants,” she wrote.

A police source complained “that they are receiving no assistance from the city or government, leaving them to personally support those in need such as purchasing food or baby wipes,” Brannon wrote.

The independent journalist noted union complaints that those in the precincts are “dealing with bed bugs, illnesses, food and basic healthcare shortages.”

Some migrants are forced to move their stuff outside to avoid an infestation of bed bugs, she said.

Migrant feeding a bay as luggage piled up around him.
The camping migrants’ belongings overwhelm some of the city’s precincts.
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“Some migrants I spoke with have been here from days to weeks and don’t know where they will go,” she wrote.

The new arrivals have taken to the precincts — as well as other public spaces, like airports — after long ago running out of space in the eight shelters dedicated to new migrants. 

“Our system is over capacity,” Brandie Knazze, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, warned late last month. 

“Make no mistake, we are in a surge and things have yet to peak.”

Migrants at one Chicago police station.
Caring cops say they’ve bought supplies for the needy families that are otherwise not being offered.

Cops told Book Club Chicago that they are getting no help from the city — with some feeling so sorry for the plight of the families on their doorstep they’re paying out of their own pockets to help.

“I’ve spent well over $300,” one South Side officer told the outlet of shelling out for basic supplies like baby formula, clothes for children and hygiene kits, none of which are otherwise provided.

“When someone has a need in front of us, you can’t turn a blind eye. Look what’s here, it’s children,” she said.

Chicago cop working in precinct as migrants look on.
Some Chicago cops are spending own money to help migrants get basic needs not supplied by city.

“We are flying by the seat of our pants and it’s been months and months now. I don’t think our city was prepared at all.”

However, it also puts an added strain on already taxed officers, warned the cop, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“The station is a shelter in an emergency [situation] for maybe a day but we are housing them for multiple days,” she said. 

Chicago officer helping migrants in his precinct.
Helping the migrants has also put a strain on already overworked cops.
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“When you have 30 people in the station and parents asking questions and kids screaming and crying, there are only so many hours you can dedicate to doing your job.”

Alderman Nick Sposato raised the same concern.

“Some [officers] are helping and bending over backwards and for others, it’s impossible to do their jobs,” Sposato said.

Earlier this month, a police source told the Chicago Sun-Times that they were getting “zero assistance” from the city.

“If you have nice officers or nice organizations, they might [buy] food for migrants,” the source said. “But if we don’t, they are essentially on their own for days until they get picked up.” 

Migrants echoed that message.

“Every day they tell us the same thing, there’s no shelter, that we need to wait,” said Ibo Brandelli, a migrant who recently slept in a precinct the city’s northwest side with his wife and two daughters.

Another, Yessika Chirino, who left Venezuela with her daughters, 15 and 5, seven months ago, says she calls Chicago’s non-emergency line every day asking about shelter openings.

“We don’t know what to believe anymore,” she said.

New Mayor Brandon Johnson had claimed in his inaugural address that “there’s enough room for everyone in the city of Chicago” — even though predecessor Lori Lightfoot warned that the city had already “reached a breaking point” with more than 8,000 new arrivals.

Last week, Johnson spent his first full day in office visiting some of the overwhelmed police stations to see it “firsthand” — with the Chicago Tribune accusing him of offering “empathy but no immediate solutions.”

New Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.
New Mayor Brandon Johnson visited some of the swamped stations last week, but could only offer empathy, not solutions.
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He blamed the crisis on people out to “score some political point,” saying: “It’s wicked. It’s unconscionable.”

“Police stations … that’s not the goal,” Johnson said, blaming the crisis on “wicked” and “unconscionable” politicians out to “score some political point.”

He did not, however, suggest ways to move the families from the precincts, instead linking a city site begging for donations of items and possible shelter spaces.

A Chicago Police Department spokesperson referred questions to the Mayor’s Office, Book Club Chicago said.

Mary May, with the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, told the outlet that the city is “working around the clock to respond to the growing number of new arrivals we are receiving on a daily basis.”

“One of our top priorities is to decompress the police stations to provide safe spaces for the asylum seekers,” May said in a statement. 

John Catanzara, the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, stressed that it is a “health” and “humanitarian issue.”

“This isn’t an anti-migrant stance one way or the other. We just are not equipped to do this,” he said.

With Post wires

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