In advance of Lollapalooza — the music festival that will bring hundreds of thousands of people to Grant Park this weekend — more than 100 migrants have been moved out of 1st District police station on the Near South Side.

Dozens were put on city-run buses to the Broadway Armory in Edgewater, among the first to be lodged there after it opened as a shelter for asylum-seekers Tuesday morning. Chicago sanitation workers threw away what the migrants left behind at the police station into a garbage truck — mattresses, children’s backpacks, shopping carts filled with food, rugs and clothing.

Migrants were told by police officers on Thursday that they needed to leave the station for “an event,” said Brayan Lozano Guzmán, who helps coordinate volunteer efforts at the station. Guzmán worked in the immigration sphere for five years in his native Colombia before coming to the U.S., he said.

The 1st District police station — which has typically housed more asylum-seekers than other police stations around the city since an influx of migrants began arriving from the Texas border last year — is a short drive from the upcoming music festivities, which start Thursday. Guzmán was told that it would be an important operational space for the city.

A statement released to the Tribune Tuesday afternoon did not address whether the move of the migrants was tied to the festival. Tuesday evening, a city spokesperson released an updated response, saying the move “was planned by the City in conjunction with mutual aid volunteers to transition new arrival families from District 1 in coordination with the opening of the Broadway Armory. This move is not contingent upon any event, and is consistent with the City’s overall effort to move all new arrivals out of Chicago police stations and into shelters.”

Tape blocks an area where migrants and their belongings were cleared from the Chicago police 1st District station lobby in the South Loop on Aug. 1, 2023.

But Guzmán said the removal of the migrants who had been staying there for weeks was rushed.

“As a sanctuary city, Chicago should have more coordinated protocol,” he said in Spanish. “It’s not an easy thing to adjust to a new city and a new way of life.”

Guzmán pointed to two raw chicken breasts discarded on the sidewalk and said a few migrants had planned to cook the meat, but had to leave abruptly before they got the chance.

Juan Antonio Montesinos, volunteer co-lead at the 1st District, said migrants have been receiving donations at the station he described as “junk” — half cartons of milk and used mattresses.

“I want to make sure that the community works with us to ensure that the donations are appropriate for the location, and we can provide other venues for bigger items used by families who move to apartments,” Montesinos said.

Almost a year after the first buses of migrants arrived in Chicago sent by Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, volunteers say the city has struggled to efficiently utilize its resources to feed and house more than 12,000 asylum-seekers.

The city now houses nearly 6,000 migrants in city-run temporary shelters, while about 1,000 await placement. Two more buses with asylum-seekers were expected to arrive Tuesday.

“Our commitment continues to be to decompress the police stations and move people into shelters, putting them on a path to resettlement and self-sufficiency,” Office of Emergency Management and Communications spokesperson Mary May said in a written statement. “The city of Chicago will continue to identify potential shelter locations on city-owned property as well as other options to open new shelters.”

More than 250 asylum-seekers who have been staying in police stations and airports are expected to relocate to the Broadway Armory over the next few days, according to a statement from the city.

Tuesday morning, the phrase ‘Bienvenidos vecinos,’ or ‘Welcome neighbors,’ was written with chalk on the sidewalk in front of the entrances to the Broadway Armory. By noon, migrants had settled in. Some walked out to see their new neighborhood.

The migrants in the new shelter are all families, said Naryuska Villasmil, a mother of one who had been staying at Midway Airport for nearly a week before being moved to Edgewater. Like those who’d been staying at the 1st District police station, she was picked up early in the morning and taken to the shelter, where she was fed and anxiously waited to take a shower.

“This is much better for us,” she said. “At least we have a small bed to sleep in.”

News in May that the city was eyeing the Broadway Armory as a possible site immediately sparked questions and concerns from the Edgewater community and nearby residents who take part in Chicago Park District services for seniors and teens in the facility, some of which has been disrupted.

But many applauded the move and looked for ways to help their new neighbors.

Two residents from the area walked in Tuesday morning to request information about how they could help.

“This building is huge; there is room for everyone here,” said Maria Garza, who drove from Uptown to the shelter.

Migrants outside of the Broadway Armory after arriving on Aug. 1, 2023. Community residents have both protested and welcomed the migrants.

Garza said that she was disappointed with the lack of organization from city leaders and shelter staff to allow volunteers to help out.

The main door of the Armory has been designated for the seniors who choose to continue attending the daily hot lunch and other activities of the senior center, a satellite center of the Department of Family and Support Services.

“As we collaborate with our partners to identify long-term solutions, we will continue to engage in planning and communication efforts with residents to ensure the continuity of services and limited disruption of programming at public facilities,” May said in a statement.

Guzmán said he expects the 1st District to close its inside public bathrooms this week.

Migrants previously staying at the 1st District police station were similarly “successfully compressed … for NASCAR activities,” according to internal operational documentation received by the Tribune from OEMC through a Freedom of Information Act request. The inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Street Race in July converted the streets around Grant Park into a 2.2-mile course.

As for Lollapalooza, a spokesperson for C3 Presents, which puts on the festival, didn’t specifically address the removal of the migrants from the police station in a response to the Tribune.

“Festival safety and security is our number one priority and a year-round focus. We work closely with the city of Chicago, their Office of Emergency Management & Communications, and other stakeholders to continually evaluate our security measures, seen and unseen, to ensure the safety of everyone in the park,” said C3 Presents spokesperson Brittany L’Heureux.

Claudia Loaiza, a newly arrived migrant from Colombia who’d been staying at the 1st District police station, was dropped back off there around 10 a.m. Tuesday with her husband Gilberto Rodríguez, from Venezuela. They said they were rejected from the shelter because they were a “pair,” not a family. Solo migrants and families get shelter prioritization, according to Gúzman.

The couple had been in New York for about seven months, they said, but came to Chicago on July 25 because of the lack of support they felt they received there.

“We want to work, to be put in any shelter,” said Rodríguez. “We didn’t have any problem saying that we were singles, but now we’ve gotten swallowed up by the system.”

They waited at the 1st District station for a bus to pick them up and move them to a another police station in the city.

nsalzman@chicagotribune.com

larodriguez@chicagotribune.com