Demonstrators are planning to march onto — and possibly shut down — the Dan Ryan Expressway this weekend to protest police brutality, an organizer for the rally said Wednesday.
Over the last few weeks, organizers for the “Black Lives Matter March: Shut down the Dan Ryan” rally have been meeting with local and state law enforcement officials to coordinate the march that will resemble Rev. Michael Pfleger’s 2018 rally.
Led by several organizations, including Tikkun Chai Inter-National and Chicago Activist Coalition for Justice, the demonstration is scheduled to start at noon Saturday at Robert Taylor Park, near 47th and Federal streets on the South Side.
Before heading to the Dan Ryan, organizers plan to go through the strict requirements set by local and state police departments. Some of those rules include no PVC pipes, wagons or coolers. Protesters also are asked to stay off the CTA Red Line train tracks.
From there, the group plans to enter the Dan Ryan using the 47th street ramp, an organizer said. The protesters then plan to march north before leaving the highway at a designated exit determined by the Illinois State Police.
It’s unclear if Illinois State Police plan to block off all northbound lanes as the march happens, but a spokesperson for the state police said they’re working with the Chicago Police Department to protect protesters.
“We have been in contact with the protest organizers to set up a safe route of travel,” Sgt. Delila Garcia said in a written statement to the Chicago Sun-Times. “The Illinois State Police will protect the rights of those seeking to peacefully protest while ensuring the safety of the public.”
But not everyone is on board with the protest potentially stopping traffic on the busiest corridor into the city.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said Wednesday he wants U.S. Attorney John Lausch and his boss, Attorney General William Barr, to “promise even more federal help to prosecute anybody who steps on the expressway” on Saturday.
“Charge ‘em with interference of commerce, which is a federal felony. You have federal agents here. It’s time to start laying the hammer down and sending these people to MCC, instead of Cook County Jail, where they can sit on their felony charges,” Catanzara said.
Catanzara is one of the most frequently-disciplined officers in the history of the Chicago Police Department. He is believed to be the first police union president ever elected while stripped of his police powers.
He remains stripped of his police powers and assigned to administrative duty for filing a police report against now-fired Police Supt. Eddie Johnson after Johnson marched arm-in-arm with Pfleger on the Dan Ryan in 2018.
Organizers for Saturday’s march originally called for 25,000 people to shut down the highway to draw attention to “stolen lives lost in police brutality,” according to the Facebook event page. In reality, organizers are expecting only a fraction of that number — about 3,000 demonstrators — to show up.