Nearly three weeks after embracing an anti-violence march that closed down northbound lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday withheld his support from a similar Aug. 2 march on Lake Shore Drive to Wrigley Field.
“Father Pfleger worked with the Police Department. That’s gonna have to happen here so we can ensure the public safety in that effort,” the mayor said, stopping short of endorsing the Lake Shore Drive march.
The difference between the Rev. Gregory Livingston, who’s spearheading the Lake Shore Drive march, and the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who shut down the Ryan, is the location and the motive.
Pfleger defied a plea from the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois State Police to move the march off the expressway to avoid diverting precious police resources away from violence-plagued neighborhoods on a busy holiday weekend.
But he stayed on the South Side, where much of the violence is concentrated.
Livingston not only is planning his march for the North Side — to spread the pain and make things “uncomfortable” for those in a more affluent community where crime is lower — but also is demanding the resignation of both Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
On Wednesday, Emanuel was asked what the difference is between the two marches — other than the fact that Livingston wants him out.
“Well, that’s kind of different. … There’s the obvious. Your ability to state the obvious. I don’t know. I thought it was supposed to be about violence reduction,” the mayor said, laughing.
Turning serious, the mayor reiterated his earlier point about Pfleger having “worked with the police department on preparations” and the need for Livingston to do the same.
That way, “we can ensure that, if people want … their voices to be heard, they’d be done in a way that is responsible and there’s a message of anti-violence,” Emanuel said.
“If people want to say the superintendent and I should resign, that doesn’t influence my position except for one thing: I think Superintendent Johnson does a fabulous job,” the mayor added.
“I’m proud that I appointed him. … And I’m proud from the time I announced his appointment, it was passed 10 days later on a 50-to-0 vote. And I think, if you look at his record, while he knows we have more work to do, he works tirelessly for it.”
The mayor was asked again whether he was prepared to let Livingston and his group march along Lake Shore Drive as they make their way to Wrigley Field.
“I’m not gonna get ahead of those discussions. You know that,” the mayor said.
Earlier this month, Pfleger led hundreds of protesters 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 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.
Organizers argued earlier this week that they should be allowed to march along Lake Shore Drive since the Dan Ryan march was allowed to proceed.