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Catholic Priest Plans to “Inconvenience” Thousands of Innocent People on Dan Ryan Expressway for Political Power Play

Fri July 06 2018 7:20 pm
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Under the threat of arrest by Illinois State Police troopers, Roman Catholic Priest, Father Michael Pfleger is planning to proceed with his protest Saturday July 7, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. that includes shutting down the westbound (northbound/inbound) lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94) from 79th Street to 67th Street (distance 1.5 mile). Nearly 3,000 people are expected to march after meeting at St. Sabina, 1210 W 78th Place in Chicago, and then attempt to enter the Dan Ryan Expressway at 79th Street. The Illinois State Police say they will be there to prevent trespassing. St. Sabina is about 2-3 blocks west of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Date: Sat. July 7, 2018
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Dan Ryan Expressway Map
Dan Ryan Satellite View
Dan Ryan Traffic Layer
Dan Ryan Traffic MPH Detectors
Pfleger and Protesters
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Chicago Police
Governor Bruce Rauner
Illinois State Police
Innocent Commuters/Travelers
Rev. Anthony W. William & Counter-protesters

The planned protest is not listed as an event on the Facebook page for St. Sabina church, but is listed on Pfleger’s “Public Figure” page with a referral to CHICAGO STRONG — “a coalition of student’s from Chicago committed to being part of the solution to end gun violence” in Chicago.

The decision to hold the planned peace march on the Dan Ryan Expressway has split the community.

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass on Thursday compared the Peace March to the Naked Bike Ride on Chicago’s North Side, explaining City Hall had no problem with “crazy bike people” but had a problem with black parents and South Siders planning to shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway to protest gun violence.

Cass, supporting the protest, also outlined the politics behind the protest. In his mind the mayor could face loss of votes if he doesn’t support the “peace march” to appease residents frustrated with gun violence on the South Side.

However, the Dan Ryan Expressway is the jurisdiction of the Illinois State Police. Apparently the Chicago Police Department will be protecting the First Amendment right to free speech, while the Illinois State Police will be protecting all U.S. citizens’ right to safe travel on the expressway.

“They should be allowed (on the Dan Ryan), yes, because they’re going to be talking about anti-violence. And I think there’s a proper way to raise that awareness. I don’t think there should ever have been a doubt about that effort.”

— Rahm Emanuel, Friday July 6, 2018

“[City police] have no interest in arresting peaceful protesters. What the Illinois State Police decides is what they decide.”

— Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson

Last week, Police First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio urged Father Michael Pfleger to hold his Saturday march on a neighborhood street instead. Riccio said the Dan Ryan protest would require a much greater police presence to protect marchers on the Dan Ryan, adding the Dan Ryan Expressway coverage would leave other parts of the city understaffed.

“Inconvenience is the point: We want them [motorists] to be inconvenienced, to think about what the South Side and West Side go through every day.”

— Father Michael Pfleger

Pfleger thinks he’s moving people to action to address violence and poverty by shutting down a major federal highway (I-90/94). Westbound Interstate 90 runs from access near Logan International Airport in Boston to access near Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners) and CenturyLink Field (Seattle Seahawks) in Seattle. Westbound I-94 runs from Port Huron, Michigan at the US-Canada border, where Sarnia, Ontario is located to Billings, Montana.

Supporters of the peace march think it will be a successful power play to move toward economic development and better schools for the South Side. The mayor apparently thinks support of the protest secures votes. Friday, July 6, 2018 — the day before the planned march — Father Pfleger’s march got the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

“I think tomorrow’s march is an important march,” Emanuel said at a Friday news conference. The Chicago mayor wants Illinois State Police troopers to know that the peaceful protesters should be allowed to march on the expressway.

Leo Schmitz, the director of the Illinois State Police said the protest presents a needless public safety risk and called it “reckless.” Schmitz warned anyone who plans to march will be arrested and charged with trespassing as soon as they set foot on an expressway ramp.

“I mean if people break the law, we may have to arrest people but that’s not what our goal is here.”

— Director of Illinois State Police Leo Schmitz

Anthony Williams of the First Congregational Church of Berwyn said he’s planning a large counter-protest to denounce Pfleger as a showman.

“Nobody benefits. The only person who benefits is Pfleger. This is his dog and pony show. He’s not serious about helping to solve the system of violence.”

— Rev. Anthony W. Williams



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