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Rauner not shutting down rap on Dan Ryan protest: ‘It is dangerous. It is wrong’

Gov. Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel greet guests ahead of a press conference announcing the public-private partnership to develop “The 78,” a 62-acre development site on the Chicago Pier on October 19, 2017. File Photo.| Max Herman/For the Sun-Times.

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday said he respects the rights of thousands of anti-violence protesters who halted traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway but called it “dangerous” and “wrong” to sanction protests on an interstate expressway.

“It’s wrong. It’s dangerous. … It’s not the place to protest, Rauner said.

And — speaking at a campaign event in the backyard of a Des Plaines home — the governor called one of the goals of Saturday’s massive protest “bringing attention to the failure of government in Chicago to reduce crime.”

“The city of Chicago is suffering. There’s massive failure by the political leaders involved here,” Rauner said. “We need to change the system.”

But was it “chaos?” That’s what the Republican governor called the closure of all lanes in a tweet that sparked a fiery response from the Democratic mayor.

Rauner and Emanuel engaged in a Twitter battle on Saturday after Illinois State Police agreed to shut down all inbound lanes for the controversial Dan Ryan protest that saw thousands of protesters, led by the Rev. Michael Pfleger, marching to both pay tribute to Chicago’s victims of violence and to demand solutions.

Thousands of anti-violence protesters pour into the inbound lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway, led by Father Michael Pfleger, Saturday morning, June 7, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Demonstrators pour onto the Dan Ryan Expressway Saturday morning. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Rauner called the closure “unacceptable” in a tweet, while also saying he was “disappointed” in the mayor for supporting the expressway closure. Rauner in his tweet asked Emanuel to “put an end to this kind of chaos.”

Less than an hour later, Emanuel fired back: “It was a peaceful protest. Delete your account.”


Speaking in the backyard of a Des Plaines home on Monday morning — to once again highlight those affected by Cook County’s skyrocketing property taxes — Rauner commended police for ensuring a safe march but said “the tactics used in that protest were wrong.”

“No one should walk onto an Interstate expressway. No one. It is dangerous. It is wrong,” Rauner said, adding there must be a focus on “real solutions” — creating more economic opportunity, reducing property taxes and reducing the regulatory burden on business owners.

Asked whether he could understand why some may have taken offense to his including the word “chaos” in his description of the protest — where there were no injuries or arrests reported — the governor reiterated that an expressway is “not the place to protest.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner talks to a Des Plaines homeowner during a Monday news conference on property taxes. Photo by Tina Sfondeles.

Gov. Bruce Rauner talks to a Des Plaines homeowner during a Monday news conference on property taxes. Photo by Tina Sfondeles.

“I’ve made my point very clear. I respect the rights of individuals to peacefully protest. Individuals were offered many locations, parks roads, etc. places to protest. I support the right of every American to protect peacefully and I support the goal of the protest: bringing attention to the failure, the failure of government in Chicago to reduce crime, to bring down the taxes and create more jobs. I agree with all that,” Rauner said. “But to be clear, no one should go onto an Interstate expressway. ”

Emanuel on Sunday said attention to the Twitter feud is “missing the message” of the protest.

“There was no chaos. It was a peaceful march to raise awareness. But don’t focus on that, because then you are overshadowing the important message,” Emanuel said. “So let me step back — I said what I said to the governor, it’s over — everybody focus on the message of what the marchers spoke about, which is the importance of anti-violence, raising the awareness that we all have a role to play.”

The mayor said it’s about getting more police on the street and getting “kids, guns and gangs off the street.”

Despite Rauner’s claim that the city has failed to reduce crime, Chicago Police statistics in June showed the city has seen its 16th consecutive month of declining violence. The city saw 79 fewer murders and 270 fewer shootings in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, police said.