Truckers Urged to Avoid I-94 in Chicago as Shutdown Looms, FOP President Calls for Arrests
Chicago, IL – Truckers are being urged to avoid areas of Chicago on Saturday as a protest to highlight social justice causes is expected to shutdown parts of a major interstate.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) was the first media outlet in the nation to report on a planned shutdown of the Dan Ryan Expressway on Saturday, August 15.
TNN also first reported this week that local city officials had reached an agreement with protest organizers to help them shut down the expressway.
“We have been in contact with the protest organizers to set up a safe route of travel,” an Illinois State Police (ISP) spokesperson confirmed to TNN this week. “The ISP will protect the rights of those seeking to peacefully protest while ensuring the safety of the public.”
As part of the terms of that agreement, protesters will be provided safe passage along their planned route from Rogar Park, and ultimately, allowed entry onto the Dan Ryan Expressway.
Click HERE to read more on this agreement.
On Thursday, the Mid-West Truckers Association (MTA) urged truckers to avoid the area and provided further details from local officials.
According to MTA, local authorities indicate marchers plan 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 is planning to divert vehicle traffic to local traffic lanes.
Entrance to the northbound Expressway will be restricted beginning at 63rd Street and all traffic will be diverted off the interstate at 59th Street.
Traffic on the Chicago Skyway will also be restricted at Stony Island Avenue.
“Truckers are urged to avoid I-94 in both directions within the city of Chicago,” MTA implored. “If truck operators are only traveling through northeast Illinois, they are urged to take alternate routes, such as I-294.”
Fraternal Order of Police President Calls for Arrests
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President John Catanzara is calling for protesters who march onto the Dan Ryan Expressway to be arrested by federal agents for violating the Hobbs Act.
As TNN has repeatedly reported, 18 U.S. Code § 1951, also known as the Hobbs Act, makes it a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail to obstruct, delay or affect commerce by robbery or extortion or threaten physical violence to any person engaged in interstate commerce.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, Catanzara is urging U.S. Attorney John Lausch and Attorney General Bill Barr, to “promise even more federal help to prosecute anybody who steps on the Expressway” on Saturday.
“Charge ‘em with interference of commerce, which is a federal felony. You have federal agents here. It’s time to start laying the hammer down and sending these people to Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), instead of Cook County Jail, where they can sit on their felony charges,” Catanzara said.
Protest Organizer Explains Why Dan Ryan Expressway Was Chosen
Also this week, one of the protest organizers, Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef with the Chicago Activist Coalition for Justice, held a press conference discussing the purpose of the demonstration.
“This is like a vigil on the Dan Ryan of the names of the lives that have been destroyed by racist police,” Rabbi Yosef said. “A vigil must begin in righteousness and end in righteousness.”
Rabbi Yosef said the protest was being held on the “grandest stage” in order to draw as much attention to their cause as possible.
“We want people around the country looking at us. We do not want to come out acting anything but passionate people about the circumstances and issues that hurt every day people,” he said.
Further, Rabbi Yosef said the group’s priority is to ensure safety for all demonstrators and urged them to act according to the terms of their agreement with city officials.
“The police are going to be on the street. We don’t want anyone to be arrested. We want everyone to enter the Expressway and exit safely,” he declared.
TransportationNation.com will continue to follow this story.