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Organizers detail planned Lake Shore march; ‘People are not going to like us’

Tio Hardiman (from left), Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston and Eric Russell spoke outside Wrigley Field last week, detailing plans of a proposed march along Lake Shore Drive on Thursday. | Sam Charles/Sun-Times

Tio Hardiman (from left), Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston and Eric Russell spoke outside Wrigley Field last week, detailing plans of a proposed march along Lake Shore Drive on Thursday. | Sam Charles/Sun-Times

The Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston and other organizers of a proposed march along Lake Shore Drive next month have made it clear in the last 24 hours that they’re not asking for permission to take to the busy thoroughfare.

In fact, Livingston says, they’re willing to go to jail to support their causes.

Unlike the march along the Dan Ryan Expressway earlier this month, this proposed march would happen in an area with far greater economic opportunity and far less gun violence.

“People are not going to like us, but that’s how you’ve got to get to the other side,” Livingston said at a press conference Tuesday morning across the street from Wrigley Field.

“The people on the North Side have to become uncomfortable enough to where their consciousness is pricked and they say, ‘You know what? We need to get in there and help our brothers and sisters, too.'”

Livingston said he wants marchers to get on Lake Shore Drive about 4 p.m. on Aug. 2. near Diversey and walk north about a half mile to Belmont.

From there, he said, the marchers would walk west to Clark and take Clark north to Wrigley Field.

What’s unclear, though, is how marchers would get onto Lake Shore Drive as there are neither entrance nor exit ramps at Diversey.

The Cubs are scheduled to play the San Diego Padres at 7 p.m. that night.

Livingston was joined at Tuesday’s press conference at Addison and Clark by Tio Hardiman –– the former gubernatorial candidate and anti-violence activist –– and Eric Russell, a police accountability and reform activist. Also there were attorney Tony Romanucci and anti-violence activist Pete Keller.

The organizers are calling for the resignations of both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, as well as greater investment in West and South side neighborhoods.

Livingston said that after news of the proposed march broke on Monday, he received several calls from a liaison in the mayor’s office, which he called an “insult.”

“They want to make sure that everything goes smoothly and safely and to see what they can do and what is it that I want,” Livingston said.

“They’re there to tame the black people. They’re there to keep us domesticated. They work for ‘Massa,’ if I can be so bold in my language.”

Shannon Breymaier, a spokeswoman for Emanuel, did not characterize those calls, but issued a statement saying, “CPD regularly works with event organizers to keep the public safe, and, as always, our goal is to keep the community safe on public thoroughfares. CPD will be in contact with the event organizers soon to talk through their plans and evaluate potential public safety impacts.”

On Monday, a Sun-Times reporter asked Livingston if the marchers planned to try to get into the ballpark and he replied, “You’ll have to wait and see.”

On Tuesday, however, Hardiman said they would not try to get inside.

Earlier this month, the Rev. Michael Pfleger lead hundreds of people on an anti-violence march along 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 that 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.

Lake Shore Drive, however, is under the jurisdiction of the Chicago Police Department.

Tuesday, organizers argued that they should be allowed to march along Lake Shore Drive since the Dan Ryan march was allowed to proceed.