Today, a massive movement of “anti-violence” protesters blocked traffic across a major Chicago highway in an effort to shutdown the road and call for "commonsense" gun laws. Mayor Rahm Emanuel had initially disapproved, then approved of the group’s plan to march on the Dan Ryan Highway, but Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner claims today that the group moved beyond what it was permitted to do.
The march is led by Rev. Michael Pfleger, an Illinois Roman Catholic priest who advocates liberation theology, and the left-wing Rev. Jesse Jackson. Protesters shouted “Shut it down!” as they ventured onto the roadway earlier this morning. Just yesterday, Mayor Emmanuel said the protesters “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.”
But, today, Gov. Rauner says that the situation escalated from the original agreement and the protesters “chose instead to cause chaos.” He also tweeted he disappointed in the Mayor and called upon him “take swift and decisive action to put an end to” the protest.
I’m disappointed in the Mayor. There was an agreement in place. I am calling on the Mayor to take swift and decisive action to put an end to this kind of chaos. I will work with him in good faith and urge him to do his job so that the people of Chicago feel safe.— Governor Rauner (@GovRauner) July 7, 2018
To that extent Rev. Jackson said this week that, “Non-violent demonstration is sometimes the only way to get the attention that will help change things…I’m perfectly willing to be arrested to bring attention to this crisis. … Stopping traffic is less damaging than the shooting and the killing and the jailing.”
Mayor Emanuel’s spokesperson had previously said that the protest will actually backfire on the marchers. “The very thing that they’re trying to accomplish — stop violence and stop shootings — has the potential to actually escalate because we’re pulling police officers out of the neighborhoods where we need them in order to escort the protesters down the expressway.”
The protest is ongoing though reports say the entirety of the highway is not closed.