EDITORIAL: A march down Lake Shore Drive? Let’s go with the flow
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Beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday, anti-violence protesters plan to march down the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive from Diversey Avenue to Belmont Avenue.
Then they’ll walk west to Clark Street and north to Wrigley Field, where the Cubs are set to play at 7:05 p.m.
Meanwhile, there’s also Lollapalooza and rush-hour traffic.
For some of you, it will be another day, another march. For others, it will be a protest, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the turbulent ’60s.
But we’ve grown a lot since then, Chicago. We can deal with this.
We can even take pride in our city’s ability and willingness to handle with calm and restraint all the disruptions and challenges of life in the big city — and a free society.
Our hope is that the march will be peaceable. It’s on the march leaders to make sure it is.
Our expectation is that the the city will do all it can to keep everybody safe — commuters, Cubs fans, the bar crowds along Clark and, most definitely, the protesters.
But if this march is going to happen, let it happen.
We are not as supportive of this march as we were for the one last month that shut down parts of the Dan Ryan Expressway on the South Side because the point was made then, in dramatic fashion, that Chicago must do more to address a litany of social problems, from gun violence to police misconduct to disinvestment in minority neighborhoods to systemic racism.
Now, as we see it, let’s move forward. Let’s do the hard work.
Rather than compete for the mantle of leadership, which is in part what these competing marches are about, organizers of the Dan Ryan March and the Lake Shore Drive demonstrations would be wise to work together. Collaborate.
They might want to take for inspiration the days of Mayor Harold Washington, when a coalition of reform-minded Chicagoans did not need to march — outsiders pounding at the castle gates — because they had gained real power.
As in the 1960s, we’re living in a time of frequent public protests, and by definition they can be disruptive. The Dan Ryan march tied up traffic on the expressway on a Saturday morning, but the “Black Lives Matters” marches down Michigan Avenue late last year inconvenienced Christmas shoppers. Talk about outraged folks.
Our challenge as a city is to reasonably accommodate marches and demonstrations, to keep folks safe along the way, and to listen.
There will be those who will want to use this march to test just how far we have come since the 1968 Democratic National Convention when cops were ordered to wade into the anti-war protesters with nightsticks.
We can’t lose our cool.
And, a protest, as disruptive as it may be, is a cry to be heard.
The Dan Ryan Expressway march, organized by the Rev. Michael Pfleger and supported by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, attached itself to at least a few specific goals. There was a call for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Bruce Rauner and all the candidates for mayor and governor to sit down and meet with the protesters. There was a call for passage of certain gun laws, such as a state certification of gun shops.
And there was a negotiation in advance between Pfleger and the mayor’s office to keep the march safe, largely because Pfleger threatened to march no matter what. Emanuel came around to supporting the march.
The Lake Shore Drive march planned for Thursday, led by the Rev. Gregory Livingston and activist Tio Hardiman, has a more overtly political aim.
“The call of the people is ‘Resign Rahm,'” Livingston has told reporters.
That being the case, it’s no surprise that the march’s organizers have not sought Emanuel’s support.
So be it. A march there will be, as well as a Cubs game and Lollapalooza.
For those of you who choose to travel the protest route, when the traffic slows to a crawl, it would help to remember in a free society, a march is sometimes our conscience on the move.
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