Protesters marching against gun violence shut down the Dan Ryan Freeway in Chicago this Saturday. According to CNN, the march was lead by Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church. The march was only supposed to take up two lanes of the highway, but after Rev. Pfelger and other protesters including Rev. Jesse Jackson negotiated with the police, they relented. Illinois state police shut down all lanes, and demonstrators marched across northbound lanes of the Dan Ryan.
Rev. Jesse Jackson stated that “We will not march on the side of the highway. We’re marching on the highway,” said Jackson.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel endorsed the protests and said he thought allowing the protesters to march down the Dan Ryan was a good idea. “They should be allowed [on the Dan Ryan], yes, because they’re going to be talking about anti-violence.”
Traffic on I-94 was at a standstill, with some people choosing to leave their cars. Traffic resumed shortly after 12:30 CT, and northbound traffic resumed.
The demonstrators are calling for national reform of gun violence, but are especially concerned with their cities high gun violence rates. Their aim is to get more “public resources, more jobs, better schools and economic development” for their community. They say they hope their demonstration forces Illinois Governor Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to take action in passing stricter gun laws and taking steps to address the underlying cause of gun violence, according to The Guardian.
Attorney Eric White said he hopes Rauner and Emmanuel can come together, especially “if Governor Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel can meet in secret to decide to give Amazon a billion dollars.”
While marching, protesters held signs that said things like “we can end gun violence” and shouted “black lives matter” and “shut it down.”
When asked why she took part in the march, Laura Hussein said she and her friends ” because the cost of ignoring gun violence in Chicago is too high.”
“Every week we lose women, children, and especially brown and black boys and men to senseless gun violence.”
Though the march remained peaceful, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner called the total shut down of the freeway “unacceptable.”
“We had clear parameters that allowed the protestors to be heard while respecting law and order. Instead, they chose…to cause chaos,” he said.
But Rev. Pfleger slammed Gov. Rauner, insisting there was no prior agreement and that the plan had been to shut down the freeway with their protest all along. He says it was the governor who tried to cause chaos.
“He tried to be an obstruction,” Rev. Pfleger said.