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Chicago anti-violence protesters arrested while attempting to disrupt traffic near O’Hare

Kennedy Expressway @ Cumberland Ave. in Chicago (David Wilson/Flickr)
September 03, 2018

Protesters are carrying out a planned demonstration intended to obstruct roadways in a busy U.S. city on Monday.

The Coalition for a New Chicago, an anti-violence group, is underway with their plans to obstruct Chicago’s Kennedy Expressway on Monday afternoon, according to ABC 7. Afterward, the demonstrators intend to march to O’Hare International Airport to send a message to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Demonstrators began gathering at the Kennedy Expressway (Interstate 90) and Cumberland Avenue at 11:30 a.m. They’d planned to obstruct both directions of the expressway to block traffic to and from the airport in an effort to be heard regarding the city’s violence epidemic.

Approximately 60 demonstrators gathered just before noon, according to the Chicago Tribune, although several hundred were estimated to show up. Recent crowd size estimates have not yet been released.

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Park Ridge Police Deputy Chief of Operations Duane Mellema said: “The city of Chicago, the Illinois State Police and Park Ridge all have significant resources to dissuade people from going on to the expressway and hopefully it won’t come to the point where there would be arrests.”

A massive law enforcement presence was prepared to respond to the planned event, and statements were issued ahead of the event. Law enforcement formed a barricade along the expressway on-ramp to prevent demonstrators from entering.

Demonstrators met up with the law enforcement barricade after 1 p.m. Law enforcement held up loudspeakers with messages ordering demonstrators to turn back or be arrested for obstruction of roadways.

Just before 1:30 p.m., law enforcement announced that the arrest process had begun. One by one, law enforcement began placing demonstrators in handcuffs and loading them onto vans.

Many demonstrators moved to grassy areas, as instructed by police, where they carried signs and chanted messages in support of shutting down the expressway, as well as removing Rahm Emanuel from office.

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Although demonstrators were prevented from entering the expressway, several told media that they still plan on marching to O’Hare “to be heard.”

President of the Coalition for a New Chicago, Rev. Gregory Livingston, said: “In order to get the attention and the ears that we need for the people’s needs we have to perform some kind of massive action.”

“Rahm is inaccessible, and not a people person. He runs from the people and we’re just gonna chase him until we get him as long as he’s getting a pay check, because that’s the taxpayer’s money,” he said.

Livingston and the Coalition were behind a march to Wrigley Field last month that shut down Lake Shore Drive.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said law enforcement communicated with Livingston in an effort to compromise on a safer location for the demonstration that would be legal and avoid obstructing vital traffic flow surrounding O’Hare. However, Livingston refused to move locations, even after state police warned of arrests.

“There has to be some pain. There has to be some messiness. There’s no way around it, but there’s great joy on the other side,” Livingston said.