Leaders of Thursday’s a planned anti-violence march along Lake Shore Drive to Wrigley Field said Monday they don’t need and do not want Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s endorsement.
“We’re not looking for any kind of help from Mayor Emanuel because, Jesus said, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan?’ He’s then divided against himself,” said the Rev. Gregory Livingston, who is demanding the resignation of Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
“That’s trickery. That’s hoodwinking. That’s bamboozling to say, are you gonna march with us and say, ‘Resign, Rahm, too. Resign me? It doesn’t make sense. We have to call out the foolishness and the wool that is being pulled over peoples’ eyes.”
Earlier this month, the Rev. Michael Pfleger led hundreds of protesters on an anti-violence march that shut down the northbound lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway.
Leaders from the Illinois State Police — which has jurisdiction over the Dan Ryan — and Chicago Police Department publicly asked Pfleger to call off the plans, saying arrests would be made if necessary.
But the march went on after Emanuel gave his blessing. Johnson could be seen walking arm-in-arm with Pfleger along the expressway.
On Monday, Livingston argued that his march is different than Pfleger’s.
“We’re not gonna be surrounded by 300 state troopers. We’re not looking for protection. We’re looking for liberation,” Livingston said.
Standing outside the mayor’s office, the Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of the Greater St. John Bible Church, articulated a list of demands that went beyond the resignations of Emanuel and Johnson.
They included: justice for “police murders”; economic investment on the South and West sides; resources for “black-led anti-violence initiatives” and the “re-opening and re-purposing” of all of the record 50 Chicago Public Schools closed by Emanuel.
“We do have people who are committed who are ready to get arrested. And those who don’t, we’ll tell them to stay back. But certainly, there are people who are gonna get arrested. And we have attorneys and people who will provide resources to bail them out,” Acree said.
The protesters plan to gather at 4 p.m. in the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive near Diversey and march north to Belmont, where they will exit the Drive and continue on to Wrigley Field.
Asked if the marchers would seek to gain entry to the Cubs 7:05 p.m. game against the San Diego Padres, Livingston said, “That’ll be your surprise…We’ll wait and see.”
But he said, “We want to be a disruptive force…That’s one of the reasons why we’re going up to Cubs Park….The multi-millionaires holding baseball bats there are holding the same kind of bats that Quintonio LeGrier held on the West Side of Chicago.”
Last week Tio Hardiman –– the former gubernatorial candidate and anti-violence activist –– said he and other activists wouldn’t try to get into Wrigley Field.
What happens if the crowd is too small to cause the “disruption” that Livingston seeks?
“The Montgomery bus boycott did not begin with a total shutdown of the Montgomery transportation system,” Livingston said.
“We have to start somewhere. If we have a great crowd, that’s fine. [But] every march that Dr. King led was not huge. But every march was significant because you’re raising consciousness.”
While Emanuel embraced the Dan Ryan anti-violence march, he has withheld his support from the Lake Shore Drive protest.
The mayor argued last week that Pfleger “worked with the Police Department” and said, “That’s gonna have to happen here so we can ensure the public safety in that effort.”
Emanuel laughed out loud when asked to describe the difference between the two marches – other than the fact that Livingston wants him and Johnson out.
“If people want to say the superintendent and I should resign, that doesn’t influence my position except for one thing: I think Superintendent Johnson does a fabulous job,” the mayor said.
On Monday, Livingston made it clear that he is not negotiating with Emanuel, nor does he need the mayor’s approval.
“He didn’t need ours to close 50 schools. He didn’t need our approval to close mental health centers. He didn’t need our approval to cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald,” Livingston said.
“He’s not God. Nor are we.”