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After Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting, Chicago Ramps Up Security Measures at Lollapalooza 2019

Public safety is a key concern for the music festival, which draws hundreds of thousands to Chicago’s Grant Park each year.

Following a deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in northern California on July 28, city officials in Chicago are taking action to prevent a similar tragedy from taking place at Lollapalooza, a music festival that began on Thursday and will last through Sunday.

The four-day event is expected to draw around 400,000 people to the city’s Grant Park, ABC7 reported. In the wake of concerns over safety at outdoor festival events, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot participated in a roundtable drill on Tuesday that presented some of the worst case scenarios for the event.

"We are vigorously, aggressively reaching out, planning and drawing upon resources from our federal partners to make sure that there's no incident here in Chicago," Lightfoot said, according to ABC7.

Each year, the event adds and refines security measures in ways that are “seen and unseen,” the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications noted in a statement. In 2017, event organizers strengthened security after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history took place at a Las Vegas country music festival.

Security staff search all bags, administer magnetometer screening and conduct pat-downs at festival entrances. Lollapalooza also bans backpacks with multiple pockets.

“As always, public safety is our top priority for the event, and the city works year-round with the organizers to plan and prepare for the safety and security of attendees, performers and staff at the festival while ensuring a fun and memorable experience,” Rich Guidice, the executive director of the office, said in a statement.

At the Gilroy festival, the shooter was able to cut through a fence to access the fairgrounds and avoid going through security at guarded entrances, local authorities said. It would be more difficult to do the same at Lollapalooza, Guidice said.

“This is what we call the 'needle fencing,’” Guidice said, according to ABC7. "This is a pretty significant piece of equipment that is utilized for this event. You would need high powered tools to try to breach ... the fence that is put around the perimeter of the event."

Guidice added that there will be a visible police presence throughout the weekend, including at hotels and businesses along the street where the festival is taking place. The department also has undercover units assigned to work Lollapalooza, he said.

Organizers advise festival-goers to know their exit routes in case of emergency. In past years, the festival has been evacuated due to weather conditions.

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