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Plainfield Police, School District Deal with Fallout from McDonald's Melee

In the wake of a post-basketball game "near-riot" that attracted 300 students, officials plan to send letter home to parents and to hold programs to help educate students.

Plainfield police and school district officials met Wednesday to work on a plan that might forestall another near-riot situation like the one that following a Plainfield North-Plainfield East high school basketball game.

The first course of action will be to send a letter home to the parents of all high school students, spokesman Tom Hernandez said.

“High school rivalries are not a bad thing, but they have their place,” Hernandez said.

“Our primary concern is student safety and community safety, and that many people in one location is not safe. We have to make sure our students are safe, and that extends to after-school events, which we see as an extension of the school day.”

Police estimate as many as 300 students gathered at the 12501 S. Route 59 shortly before 9 p.m., just after the conclusion of the North-East rivalry game in which East beat North 76 to 48. During the game, a controversial technical foul in which an student collided with a player after sinking a slam dunk provoked fans on both sides to chant “Meet at McDonald’s,” police said.

, with eight officers on the scene, had to make two arrests for disorderly conduct before they could break up the crowd jammed the inside of the restaurant and the outside parking lot, officials said.

It’s not the first time problems have occurred at this particular McDonald’s after basketball and football games, Police Chief John Konopek said. In fact, a fight broke out there just two weeks earlier, which was captured on a cell phone and later posted on YouTube, he said.

Police are reviewing the tape, which is no longer on the Web site, and have asked McDonald’s for copies of their surveillance videos to determine if charges are warranted, he said.

School and police officials acknowledge there’s not much the district can do about events that take place off campus, but educating students about the potential ramifications of crowd scenes that get out of hand – including the possibility of being injured, injuring someone else or being arrested – could help.

“The kids don’t think about or understand what the consequences of their actions are,” Konopek said. “Large crowd dynamics can change very rapidly. Every action has some type of consequence. But high school kids sometimes don’t see things right at the end of their nose.

“We can only go so far trying to educate them. … At some point, the parents have to reinforce the message. They need to be aware of what’s going on in their kid’s life.”

To that end, the letter to be sent to parents by week’s end will urge them to discuss the situation with their children, emphasizing the need to talk about good sportsmanship and the potential for life-altering results that can come with situations that get out of control, Hernandez said.

Parents should also monitor their children’s cell phones and Twitter and Facebook accounts to ensure they aren’t doing or saying things that could get them in trouble, Konopek said. It’s believed that many of the students who gathered at the McDonald’s Tuesday were alerted by friends via cell phones, he said.

School and police officials are also considering the possibility of holding school-wide presentations in which these topics are discussed, Hernandez said.

Konopek said police will continue to seek assistance from McDonald’s in dealing with crowds that have the potential to get out of control at the Route 59 restaurant, Konopek said.

Thus far, the corporate office has been unwilling to work with the department on such things as giving police access to their private parking lot so that they can break up groups that are loitering or closing their lobby for an hour or two following games so that the restaurant can’t be used as a meeting place, he said.

McDonald’s corporate office in Oak Brook did not respond to Plainfield Patch's calls or email for comment Wednesday.

The bottom line, Konopek said, is students must be taught that it’s immature to take their rivalries beyond the school gym.

“School spirit is fine, but after the game is over, you have to go back to reality,” he said.

Plfdmom February 09, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Wow, what makes you think it "sounds more like a PNHS issue"? Both schools were present at McDonalds that night. Matter of fact, this McDonalds is the hangout for both PEHS and PNHS after every home football and basketball game. To put the blame solely on PNHS is absurd. Both schools were at fault that evening. For you to say that it's a PNHS issue makes me believe you are a PEHS parent. They are always passing the blame to North. It's time East stood up and accepted some of the blame for their actions. Unbelievable.
Mark February 09, 2012 at 04:59 PM
So does this mean all the students go to Burger King now?
wow February 09, 2012 at 05:23 PM
plfdmom..my view was based on the other article related to this issue...Police took two Plainfield North students into custody on charges of disorderly conduct, which prompted the crowd to break up, he said. One student arrested by Fisher was standing on a restaurant table, "chanting and riling up his side," Fisher said...... I might be 100% wrong..as I was not at mcdonalds but if over 300 kids at mcdonalds only two taken into custody...but i may have read to much into that
john anderson February 09, 2012 at 07:36 PM
people you must first understand that this is nothing more than yellow journalism. for those of you who do not know what that it is, it is simply put, blowing up a story and skewing and making it very far from the actual story. there was no "near riot" situation. as a matter of fact the situation did not become tense until the plainfield police department came in abusing their power, and unjustly arresting and charging students for disorderly conduct. had they never arrived the situation would have been pleasent, police intervention in this case did nothing more than to cause problems.my real question is where were the police when there was a fight at this particular mcdonalds. i remember these people brawling for at least 5 minutes. then they left, went through the drive through got their meal and left. although other people on this particular night were arrested for simply wanting to get their meal that they paid for. the plainfield police department took a situation and attempted to create an example out of it. instead of kicking paying customers out they should have been removing loiterers.
Plfdmom February 09, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Wow...one of the students that was arrested was not standing on the table as reported. He was standing on the ground and chanting "What side?" and then North students within the crowd shouted "North side!" This student just happened to be "arrested" because he was within reach of a police officer. Another student was almost "arrested" for sticking up for that student. Really?! I totally understand that patrons should not be yelling in public restaurants. This student should not have been yelling either, but to be "arrested" for it is utterly ridiculous. And you're saddly mistaken if you think these two students were the only ones yelling. The majority of the crowd was. These two students just happened to be within reach of the officer and just happened to be from North. So I repeat, this is NOT a North issue!! Both schools were at fault.
kyleb4 February 09, 2012 at 09:05 PM
What example are we showing these kids when the police are dropping the f bomb ? As they walked in they told the kids to get the f out of here. Really? I think there is something to be said about that. All these kids are doing is looking for a place to meet, have something to eat and socialize. Yes there was a fight in there a few weeks back and the kids fighting didn't even go to either school. Should we segregate them ? One group at mc ds and one group at bk ? I thought our country was beyond that. How about an officer sit inside for an hour ? He's getting paid for sitting in his car on a side street anyways. This is nothing new. Teens have been meeting for the last hundred years. Where did you go when you were a teen ? The forest preserve? The park? Hung out on someones block? If more than 5 teens are together they are considered a gang in this town. They can't hang out at parks or on a corner. These are all good kids it is up to us adults as it was with our parents and their parents to keep order.
Tim February 09, 2012 at 09:24 PM
You are not the first to notice the writing style of; Karen "Yellow Journalist" Sorenson I think most people by now have realized she is more interested in gossip and editorializing EVERYTHING, than boring old factually based, and externally verifiable 'reporting'. For some reason though, she keeps putting her columns in the 'news' section, and not the 'editorial' section. Hopefully this slight oversight will be corrected soon.
Parent of a child that was there February 09, 2012 at 09:55 PM
John, I agree! My daughter & her freshman friends were sitting at a booth eating meals they'd paid for & were told by the police they had to leave, forcing them to throw the rest of their food away as they didn't have a bag to carry their food out. Once outside they called me to pick them up & were told by the police that they couldn't wait on McDonald's property or they would be arrested. They then proceeded with a number of other students to a neighboring establishment where they were followed by the police & told they had 30 seconds to f'ing vacate or they would be arrested. She called me in a panic not knowing where to go. I was stuck waiting through 3 red lights trying to turn left off of 59 because the police had their vehicles blocking the intersections & cars couldn't get through. The whole situation was very much escalated by the police & handled very poorly! My daughter saw no fights, was the restaurant overcrowded...Yes. Were kids chanting Northside...Yes. But at no point did anyone from McDonalds ask these students to quiet down, settle down or leave, in fact they were still serving students when the police arrived. The 2 students arrested from my understanding were a student that had ordered & paid for his meal & upon being asked by the police to leave said he would once he rec'd his food & since he didn't leave immediately, was arrested & a student that refused to leave the property b/c he was awaiting his ride. Quick judgment & guilt b/4 innocence occured here!
eastsidepride February 09, 2012 at 10:29 PM
I'm a senior at east and these "riots" have been going on for years and this paticular mcdonalds, and no physical fights ever occured. So everyone is freaking about this now....because? This explains why karen sorenson works for the world famous plainfield patch, lol.
eastsidepride February 09, 2012 at 10:30 PM
*at not and..
T-Bone February 09, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Wow, I believe the fight 2 weeks ago involved PEHS students also, Not just PNHS but our Mighty PPD will find that out when they do their big review of the tape!
Cappa February 10, 2012 at 12:04 AM
I think it's so funny that the Plainfield Police and these random parents think that just because North and East are "rivals" means that we all hate eachother...we don't. In any given situation we would all have eachothers backs at any point in time. For parents to say that North is "disrespectful" has absolutely no clue. We go to a school with the HIGHEST expectations and they don't let anything slide. We all are at Mcdonald's every friday but the second Plainfield police have nothing better to do then send "all 8" cops to the Mcdonald's where nothing was going to happen. I have NEVER seen a maximum capacity sign in Mcdonald's nor have I seen a fight between people from North and East. I have seen kids who graduated years ago fight but that should not reflect on us. We'll all just find somewhere else to hang out...this has been blown completely out of proportion to the point where parents are acting immature when commenting. As teenagers we are defending ourselves not blaming other people for why we act the way we do or bringing up things others schools did like almost every parent I've seen comment on these articles. Get over it, we'll all be there Friday night :) PLAINFIELD ALL DAY! That includes every Plainfield school!
Cappa February 10, 2012 at 12:12 AM
And on Tuesday it was mostly North kids, what are we all going to do, brawl eachother? No...these are the days that all of us teenagers are going to remember when we get older. Going to Mcdonald's after games and being able to see our FRIENDS who got transfered over the East. I would love to know what was going through Karen's head while she writing this
T-Bone February 10, 2012 at 12:28 AM
They are really going to waste tax payers money to send letters home to parents because the PPD over reacted! Don't waste the money and save a tree! Why doesn't Tom Hernandez just make one of his famous calls to the students home. You all know where that letter is going to end up!
Hugo February 10, 2012 at 01:12 AM
>> I have seen kids who graduated years ago fight but that should not reflect on us. Oh, so there ARE fights. Hmmm. Ok. Omg, that should be like, TOTALLY OBVIOUS, to the outside observer.
Sarah Tonz February 10, 2012 at 01:13 AM
From a mother of a HS student, (not at either HS involved) This is obviously an issue that needs to be handled. For the people that say there has been no issues, obviously there is, previous incidents documented on cell phones videos, police responded here NUMEROUS times in the recent weeks. Who do you think calls the police there?? Mcdonalds, other students or the family in there prior to these kids acting out of control. Anwer this ques, if you and your family are in there and 5 min later the restaurant is over taken with 200-300 kids, what do you do. Watch kids shove each other and verbally argue??? What happens when some gets hurt up there? Fight? slips on floor, falls off table, crashes a car leaving the lot? The police are doing there job as law enforcement so does the kids, parents, mcdonalds and schools. I have driven by 1 time and it appears the restaurant across the street (vito and nicks) is taken over also. Im sure they are not happy about the cars parked in their parking lot and taking them up from normal paying customers. Lets look at the big picture people....
Hugo February 10, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Don't be silly, Sarah. "Healthy school rivalry", expressed by standing-room only crowds of chanting juveniles inside a small restaurant certainly trumps the rights of anyone who might may have previously occupied the same space as a paying customer.
Hugo February 10, 2012 at 04:42 AM
I think the police over-reacted by responding (at all) to a service call regarding a venue with a precedent of fights. Oh...right...I forgot it's not current students who're fightings, it's recent graduates. Next time that happens, the person who calls the police should say: "There is a fight, but I want to let you know that it's not current high school students, it appears to be recent graduates...so...make sure that when you show up, you immediately recognize that important distinction."
MidwestGal February 10, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Parents, you are the problem...you encourage this nonsense...at the freshman football game last fall the PEHS parents were literally in the end zone yelling, chanting and cheering. The ref's kept commenting as well! School rivals are normal, this "my kid is the best" attitude is not. Your child isn't the best, fastest, smartest...love them anyway, other parents will too and move on. The more you try to persuade people that they are, the dumber you look, and the less talented your child looks.
MidwestGal February 10, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Hernandez is a waste of taxpayer $.
Jason Worth February 10, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Hugo, I was not there and either were you. Its your biased opinion on what actually occurred there on the numerous incidents documented there. Students recorded on a cell physically fighting, that does NTSC sound like a healthy rivalry.....come on
Jason Worth February 10, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Your wrong Hugo, just because a group comes in there to cause a disturbance does not trump anybody. Your completely wrong when u say this. So my family should just leave because they wanna act out of control.
Hugo February 11, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I was kidding, Jason. Of course, an obnoxious crowd (for whom seating doesn't physically exist), should not supercede the rights of other patrons who were already there minding their own business.
Stacey February 11, 2012 at 05:12 PM
The whole reason this occurs is the lack of parenting. Kids these days are brought up to believe they can do nothing wrong and mommy and daddy will pay whatever to get them off. We need to go back to the old days when if it kid talked back to a teacher or school official he got slapped right upside the head. Also, if your biggest complaint about the police is because the said the "f-bomb" then get a life. I'm sure your kids hear all the time when mommy and daddy are yelling at each other and eventually need to call the police to settle it. Maybe you should all not worry so much about commenting about who was right or who was wrong and go be a f-in parent to you kids.
Hugo February 12, 2012 at 03:37 AM
This is a big deal to entitled brats. Teachers don't swear, raise their voice, or put their hands on kids. Therefore, the rest of the world shall follow suit. Trophy babies can't be tarnished by such rough treatment...even if they themselves swear, raise their voices and put hands on others.
Robert February 12, 2012 at 09:08 PM
How about the kids hanging out at home?
Robert February 12, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Small things lead to bigger problems. Nip it in the bud now. I have taught at two very large suburban high schools and it is time to admit and deal with any issues that occur.
Robert February 12, 2012 at 09:14 PM
The day of thinking that this is just "Kids stuff" is over. To many adults want to compare today's young adults with the way it was when they were in high school. Things have changed and the violence bar is much higher.
Brian February 13, 2012 at 09:25 PM
PNHS, PEHS, who cares??! You're all the same and so are your schools. Remind your kids of that. It's like arguing over who's bigger white trash. People from Tulsa, OK or people from Oklahoma City? Too bad there are no more vacant country roads left in Plfd to help alleviate their frustrations; so they meet at McDonald's? How lame. You can't drink beer and smoke cigarrettes there!
Debra February 28, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Having read all the above comments, I first want to say "thank you" to the Plainfield Police Department for their efforts in disbursing the crowd before a potentially volatile situation occurred, and reporter, Karen Sorenson for reporting the story, and also for the PPD and Dist. 202 School Officials for meeting and mapping out a plan to deal with this situation. As a retired A.P. of a neighboring high school district, in charge of student discipline, I know first hand, the potential danger that exists in a crowd of rival, unsupervised adolescents after a game. Parents who were not "directly supervising" their children, may not realize the gravity of the situation. Also, many of the commentators may not have been in a situation where they had to disburse emotionally charged, disruptive, rival groups of students, and try to maintain the safety and security of those students and others in the restaurant. It is a difficult task, but one which is absolutely necessary. I am certain no one wants to see our students or community members hurt, and in a crowd, like the one Tuesday night, common sense should prevail. Violence CAN, and DOES erupt very quickly in these situations. It is my hope that the parents, students, and community will recognize that the safety and security of our students is of primary concern, and will support our community officials as they strive to address the situation.

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