Police Reveal Why They Stopped “Illegal” Protest Aiming to Shut Down Chicago Interstate
Chicago, IL – The Illinois State Police (ISP) prevented multiple social justice groups from shutting down a stretch of a major Chicago interstate last weekend leaving many following the story to wonder why.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) was the first to report that numerous social justice groups planned to shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway on Saturday, August 15, as a way to bring attention to the “stolen lives” they claim have been “murdered” by “racist police.”
TNN was also the first to report that in the days leading up to the protest local Chicago leaders reached an agreement with the event organizers to assist them in shutting it down.
The ISP remained in close contact with TNN providing the latest updates on the planned route for the marchers and traffic alerts.
In fact, less than 24 hours before the planned demonstration, the ISP again sent TNN an urgent reminder.
“The ISP would urge the motoring public, including truck drivers, to avoid the Dan Ryan Expressway in both directions within the city of Chicago during the proposed date and time of the planned protest,” ISP Sergeant Delila Garcia implored. “We would ask that your audience consider using alternate routes to travel through northeast Illinois, such as the I-290 to I-55 or I-294.”
Authorities had previously indicated marchers planned to enter the northbound lanes of the Expressway at approximately 12 p.m. at the 47th Street entrance ramp and proceed to the 43rd Street exit ramp.
Law enforcement was planning to divert vehicle traffic to local traffic lanes.
Further, Sgt. Garcia indicated it was a large operation in partnership with the Chicago Police Department, Illinois Department of Transportation, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Chicago Fire Department.
Was it the low turnout?
TNN reported on Saturday that the demonstration drew a sparse turnout with fewer than 200 protesters in attendance.
Protest organizers had previously called for 25,000 people to join the effort and as recently as last week assured law enforcement of at least a turnout of a few thousand.
It clearly did not materialize, so was it the low turnout that caused the ISP to change the plans?
According to ISP, that wasn’t the reason.
So, what was the reason?
After all of the negotiating, deployment of public resources and urging the public to avoid the area, ISP admitted what most truckers had been saying for weeks leading up to the planned demonstration.
“Prior to the event, organizers were again reminded it is illegal for pedestrians to be on an interstate,” the ISP explained in a statement shortly following the protest. “During Saturday afternoon’s event, no pedestrians entered the Dan Ryan Expressway or any interstate and no one was injured or arrested by the ISP in connection with the event.”
However, in 2018, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church in the city’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood organized a protest that actually did result in the Dan Ryan Expressway being shut down.
In that instance, the event garnered a much higher number of participants.
After taking two northbound lanes and more than an hour of negotiating with law enforcement, Father Pfleger’s group of protesters accomplished its goal in completely shutting it down.
Organizer of Saturday’s demonstration, Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef with the Chicago Activist Coalition for Justice, promised to try again.
“We were this close to taking the Dan Ryan, but I don’t want you to be defeated,” he told the disappointed group.
The groups sponsoring Saturday’s protest have already planned future shutdowns.
Click HERE to read more about those scheduled shutdowns.
TransportationNation.com will keep you informed as those shutdown attempts draw closer.