The Rev. Mike Pfleger plans to shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway on the morning of July 7 to bring attention to gun violence.
“Nothing else is working right now, so I think we have to go back to the playbook of the civil rights movement,” Pfleger said Monday morning, several hours after he posted a message on Facebook calling for people to join him.
On July 7 at 10 a.m., Pfleger plans to lead a group down the Dan Ryan’s northbound entrance ramp at 79th Street and walk about a mile and a half before exiting at the Marquette Road/67th Street exit ramp.
Pfleger said several people in positions of power, he wouldn’t say who, have tried to dissuade him from marching down the highway — to no avail.
Ample notice of the demonstration will hopefully allow motorists to avoid the area, he said.
It’s unclear how many people will be joining him. Pfleger said he’s received interest from people as far away as Naperville.
Buses will transport marchers from Pfleger’s church — St. Sabina in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood — to the on-ramp at 79th, he said.
“But I’ll do it alone if I have to,” Pfleger said.
Pfleger acknowledged the possibility he and others could be arrested — it wouldn’t be his first time.
And he would not share his plans on how the group plans to carry out the task safely.
“Is there risk in it? Absolutely. But there’s risk every day when our kids walk in the street and sit on the porch,” he said.
“Is peace going to happen July 7? Hell no,” he said. “But will consciouses be raised? Yes. And will people get the word that we’re not going to sit down and roll over? Hopefully.”
Pfleger said he first announced the Dan Ryan march at a June 15 anti-violence rally in the parking lot of his church and was attended by Chance the Rapper and Jennifer Hudson.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said of the planned march: “We are aware of the event and had initial discussions with Father Pfleger but we are still in the process of meeting internally and with other operational agencies to discuss the feasibility. There are many public safety and traffic impacts to consider. We’re meeting this week.”
The Illinois State Police patrols the Dan Ryan. A state police spokesman didn’t immediate return a message seeking comment.
Pfleger said the idea to shut down the expressway was formed after young people in the community came together to talk about ways to end violence and bring jobs and peace to troubled parts of the city.
Those discussions included chats with survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, he said.
Pfleger has not attempted to shut down such a major roadway. The biggest road he’s helped shut down is Michigan Avenue along the Magnificent Mile, he said.