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Marching on Dan Ryan is dangerous, but status quo in neighborhoods is deadly

The Rev. Michael Pfleger speaks at a gun violence prevention rally last summer in Chicago's Federal Plaza. He plans another rally on July 7 that would shut down a section of the Dan Ryan Expressway. | Lou Foglia/ Sun-Times

There’s something perverse about a culture when a cry for peace is answered with death threats.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger is once again stirring things up with his plan to march down the Dan Ryan Expressway on Saturday.

The pastor of St. Sabina Church has been rebuked by the nattering ninnies of social media, the racist losers and the Chicago Police Department.

“The church office has been flooded with hate calls,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed last week.

“People are telling me they are going to run me over if they see me on the street; I’m getting a lot of hate back on Facebook … .”

It’s a march for peace, for God’s sake.

OPINION

On Saturday at 10 a.m., demonstrators will commandeer the northbound lanes of the Dan Ryan from 79th Street to 67th Street. Pfleger and Chicago Strong, a youth-led group, are teaming up to decry gun violence and demand solutions.

They will stop traffic on one of the city’s busiest expressways, carrying banners with five demands. “Resources for our communities; national common-sense gun laws; jobs; excellent schools; and economic development,” according to their website.

Pfleger has inspired hundreds of protests and marches in his long and vocal career. This one is different. It is dangerous.

When Pfleger hits the hot pavement Saturday, he will be the biggest target. That’s nothing new. Every time I write about Pfleger’s advocacy, I get hate mail. He is a magnet for the tiny-minded racists.

The racists despise anyone who speaks out against injustice, who cares for people of color and the poor. They reserve a special place in their vitriolic hearts for white people who care.

The racists don’t care about the shootings and murders that continue at an epidemic pace on the South and West sides of Chicago. They revel in it.

But what about the rest of us? This march will ramp up the volume.

Commuters and weekend visitors will be inconvenienced for a few hours as the marchers plead for peace on the Ryan.

Many who will sit in their idling, hot cars have options and resources. They will eventually drive on, to their shopping on North Michigan Avenue, festivities in Millennium Park. They can take off for their sailboats and blue skies in Lake Geneva or relax on their leafy lawns in Naperville.

When they do, here’s hoping the marchers’ chants will echo in their ears.

Marching is dangerous, but the status quo is deadly.

Deadly for the people trapped in these hell holes of violence. Deadly for the innocent families and children, bereft of support and hope, who can’t walk their own streets, who can only pray they survive another day.

To protect the marchers, Chicago Police Department officials warn they must pull 200 police officers out of the South and West sides, leaving high-crime neighborhoods unprotected.

CPD First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio urged Pfleger to stay in the ‘hood, and “take this march into the communities where the violence is and show the people in the community that you have all of this support for peace and anti-violence… .”

Been there, done that.

“Is peace going to happen July 7? Hell no,” Pfleger told the Sun-Times. “But will consciousness be raised? Yes. And will people get the word that we’re not going to sit down and roll over? Hopefully.”

We are all part of this city. We all must be part of the solution.

Email: lauraswashington@aol.com

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