Father Pfleger, protesters threatened with arrest ahead of Dan Ryan protest

SHARE Father Pfleger, protesters threatened with arrest ahead of Dan Ryan protest
afp_1613y8_76839060_192070.jpg

The Rev. Michael Pfleger plans to lead a shutdown of the Dan Ryan Expressway on Saturday morning. | Jim Young/Getty Images

Father Michael Pfleger isn’t letting threats of arrest stop his plan to shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway Saturday morning — even as the Archdiocese of Chicago declines to say if it supports his plan or not.

Pfleger has a suggestion for the police if they need additional officers to handle the protest.

“If they say doing this will pull officers from the most needed neighborhoods in the city of Chicago then pull them from the North Side,” Pfleger said, at a news conference Tuesday.

The priest of St. Sabina Church said Illinois State Police hand delivered a letter this morning that said they would arrest anyone who steps foot on the Dan Ryan, one of Chicago’s busiest expressways.

But the head of the Illinois State Police said at a separate news conference that arresting people isn’t the goal but rather keeping them safe.

Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz, who previously commanded the CPD’s Englewood District, just north of St. Sabina, said that the idea of marching along the busy expressway poses too great of a threat to public safety.

“This call to protest on the Dan Ryan, however well-intentioned, could be considered reckless and must be strongly discouraged,” Schmitz said Tuesday. “The potential of death or injury to pedestrians on the expressway, no matter how righteous the cause, is enormous.

Aside from Lake Shore Drive, all expressways within city limits are under the jurisdiction of the ISP.

“We’re not looking to arrest people,” Schmitz said. “If people break the law, we may have to arrest people, but that’s not what our goal is here.”

Asked if ISP troopers would physically restrain people from walking onto the expressway, Schmitz said, “That’s one of our plans, yes.”

Pfleger’s plan to shut down part of the Dan Ryan is his latest effort to demand action on the city’s gun violence problem, and on Tuesday he wasn’t buying police objections to the plan.

“They’ll close any expressway when a president comes into town, they’ll close it for every event that’s been going on in this city, they close it down Lake Shore Drive for the Bulls . . . ” Pfleger said. “Why don’t you close it down for people and for lives?”

It’s unclear how Pfleger’s plans are going over with his superiors. A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago declined to comment when asked if the archdiocese supports or is discouraging Pfleger’s plans for the march.

Protesters are set to block off the northbound lanes of the expressway from 79th to 67th Streets Saturday morning — buses to 79th street, near the Dan Ryan, will be available at St. Sabina.

The group will meet at 79th street, near the Dan Ryan, around 9:45 a.m. and march down the ramp.

RELATED

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

Michael Pfleger critics get personal over plan to march on Dan Ryan


The Latest
The man, 36, was in a vacant building sometime Sunday morning in the 6400 block of South Whipple Street when the fire started, according to Chicago Fire Department officials.
He wants to help catch the person who shot him. First, he has to get police to work with him — then he has to pick the right guy.
About 4:25 a.m., a red sedan was going south in the northbound lanes of the 3300 block of South DuSable Lake Shore Drive when it struck a dark SUV going north, Chicago police said.
Voters face a long list of candidates for Chicago mayor, some with vastly different views on public schools, and longstanding history, for better or worse, with the district.