Anti-violence protest shows unity among activists; division within city leaders


By: Nana Aduba-Amoah

On Saturday, July 7, thousands of people marched on the Dan Ryan Expressway to protest the ongoing violence occurring within the city of Chicago.

Families and friends who lost their loved ones to violence, activists, and politicians flooded the inbound lanes of the 79th street expressway that morning, alongside the Rev. Michael Pfleger and Rev. Jesse Jackson, holding signs with slogans and pictures, chanting “no justice, no peace,” the Washington Post reports.

“We’ve come here to interrupt business as usual. To let people know that we are here to disturb the comfortable. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but children are dying,” Pfleger said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The protest, which lasted until noon, proved to be peaceful and unifying, however, the arrangements leading up to the march showed growing disagreements among organizers, city’s mayor, the state governor, and police officials.

Earlier in the week, state police warned Pfleger that they will arrest and restrain protesters if they march on the expressway, nevertheless, he remained adamant about his plans to continue the march.

On Friday, July 6, Mayor Rahm Emanuel showed his support for the protest to occur on the expressway, ABC 7 Chicago reported, and Illinois State Police released a statement Saturday morning, allowing protesters to occupy about half of the expressway. However, a statement from Governor Bruce Rauner’s spokeswoman, Patty Schuh, earlier that morning, stated that protesters were only allowed to march on the shoulder of the expressway.

Rauner came up with “a comprehensive plan to allow controlled access to the shoulder of the Dan Ryan Expressway for a peaceful protest against Chicago’s violence was negotiated and approved by all stakeholders,” Schuh said, according to MSN News.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Pfleger became upset because his initial plans were to shut down the entire highway, which led to a standoff between police and protesters during the march. Police officials eventually gave in and shut down the entire northbound lane, allowing protesters to march for about an hour.

Dissatisfied with the outcome of the protest, Governor Rauner tweeted his sentiments that morning. Mayor Emanuel also retorted with a tweet, instructing the mayor to delete his account.



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