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Tally to taxpayers for Dan Ryan shutdown reaches $323,000 — and still climbing

Thousands of protesters shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway to draw attention to the city's gun violence.

Thousands of protesters shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway to draw attention to the city's gun violence. State resources that day cost taxpayers $323,000. | AP Photo

As Chicago prepares to handle another protest that could shut down a major roadway, the total cost of the last big demonstration has hit at least $323,000.

That’s the bill that taxpayers are footing for the Dan Ryan Expressway march earlier this month.

The cost so far — $323,229.33 — includes nearly $1,000 in fuel costs for state Department of Corrections vehicles, nearly $200,000 in state police pay and benefits and $52,000 in state Department of Transportation equipment costs, according to department records.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office said they helped state police with 911 calls during the Dan Ryan march, at a cost of about $3,000.

As of Monday afternoon, the Chicago Police Department had not provided an estimate of their protest-related costs. Neither had the Chicago Transit Authority, though it was unclear how the march could have had a financial impact on that agency. Even State Police said they’re still calculating their final costs.

Thousands of anti-violence demonstrators flooded the Dan Ryan Expressway on the South Side on July 7 led by the Rev. Michael Pfleger. Illinois State Police bowed to demonstrators that day, briefly shutting down all inbound lanes on the Dan Ryan for about an hour.

State police have jurisdiction over the highway, but Chicago police aided their efforts deploying hundreds of officers and bikes. Additionally, Illinois Department of Corrections buses and IDOT trucks lined the expressway to block off two lanes of traffic for marchers before the total shutdown.

State Department of Corrections buses lined the interstate to form a barrier for the lanes the marchers walked in during the march on the Dan Ryan Expressway. (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images)

Gov. Bruce Rauner took issue with the march, tweeting during the demonstration that it was “unacceptable.”

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel tweeted his support for the march and disdain for Rauner’s comments, telling the governor to delete his account. Emanuel, however, has not endorsed the upcoming Lake Shore Drive march.

Pfleger said the cost of his march is a “pittance” compared to the cost of incarcerations and shootings of South Side residents.

He also said Rauner chose to overreact, which affected the amount spent on the march.

“The state would rather spend money to resist us than to assist us [with the violence],” Pfleger said.

This Thursday, the Rev. Gregory Livingston and activists will now attempt to disrupt traffic on the North Side. They plan to march on Lake Shore Drive and end up at Wrigley Field just as a Cubs game is set to start.

Lake Shore Drive is under CPD jurisdiction and Emanuel has stressed that organizers should work with police as Pfleger did to ensure safety. Emanuel did not, however, give a strong endorsement of the march as he did the Dan Ryan march.

CPD Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi said since the exact size and route of the Lake Shore Drive protest is still being worked out with organizers, an estimated cost for it couldn’t be determined.

Rauner’s office and Emanuel’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment.