Rev. Michael Pfleger and hundreds of anti-violence activists plan to shut down part of the Dan Ryan Expressway in protest tomorrow, July 7th. The protest will take place at 10 a.m. in the northbound lanes of the Dan Ryan beginning at 79th street and marching down to 67th street. As many as 1000 people are expected to gather in demand for city officials to do more to address the violence in Chicago. Marchers are also advocating for more jobs and better schools on the South and West sides.
Law enforcement officials have asked Pfleger to reconsider, saying it is too dangerous to walk into a busy expressway. Illinois State Troopers will try to stop protesters from getting onto the Dan Ryan and arrests will be made if necessary. According to the Chicago Police superintendent Eddie Johnson, the Chicago Police Department is prepared to provide crowd safety and traffic control functions only, and CPD will not participate in any physical arrests of those peaceful protesting the violence.
“If people break the law, we may have to arrest people. But that’s not what our goal is here,” said Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz. “Our goal is to save lives, whether it be the young children or people in the city or motorists. We just don’t want anybody to get hurt,” Schmitz added.
Despite the threat of arrest, Pfleger and his followers still plan to follow through with shutting down the expressway.
“We’re still on target to go,” Pfleger stated Thursday. “I can’t predict anything right now, but we’re taking a page from the civil rights movement. When nothing else was working, civil disobedience is what eventually made authorities and the government listen.”
The protest is scheduled to start at 10:00 am July 7th. Motorists are encouraged to look up alternate routes to avoid the protesters.