Anti-Violence Protesters Get Rude Awakening from Police After Trying To Shut Down Expressway


A large, Labor Day protest marked the third attempt to disrupt a major roadway in Chicago since July, but there was something different about the police reaction this time.

Demonstrators met around 11:30 a.m. Monday and headed to O’Hare Airport via the Kennedy Expressway, according to the Chicago Tribune. They planned to shut down the expressway and interfere with the holiday traffic to and from the airport.

They never managed to block the expressway, and a dozen demonstrators were arrested.

The Rev. Gregory Livingston, a vocal Chicago activist who put together the demonstration, hoped to block all lanes in and out of O’Hare. Livingston was an unsuccessful alderman candidate in a special election in 2017.

He was also behind last month’s protest which briefly shut down Lake Shore Drive in August, according to The Associated Press. A separate protest in July, led by the Rev. Michael Plager, an activist Catholic priest, shut down Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway.

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Neither of those demonstrations resulted in protesters being arrested.

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Livingston said that the intention of these protests is to force something to be done about the lack of education and economic opportunities on the South and West sides, to end the violence in those neighborhoods.

According to the Chicago Tribune, he also wants Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and the Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to step down.

Emanuel is seeking a third term in the February city election.

“We want the people’s demands at the table and for them to be acted upon. That’s going to help reduce the violence,” Livingston told WGN-TV.  “As long as we have a tale of two cities, we’ll have this out-of-control violence.”

At a news conference on Friday, according to “Chicago Tonight,” Maj. David Byrd of the Illinois State Police said: “We’re prepared for all contingencies, so arrest contingencies are in place and we’re prepared for that also. But that’s not our goal.”

Livingston told reporters his marchers were ready to be detained.

“We do have some seasoned people who will volunteer to get arrested because that’s our philosophy of peaceful protests, nonviolent direct action,” he told WGN.

Responding to the threat of blocked access to the airport, over 200 state troopers were present, along with several hundred Chicago police officers.

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Check out an Associated Press video here:

Alderman Nicholas Sposato,, a former firefighter, said the officers should be out patrolling neighborhoods and said the demonstration had wasted police resources.

“Try to shut down a highway a third time? Is this going to be a monthly thing now? When does it end?” he asked, according to the AP.

Livingston told WGN before the march that “it is a sacrifice to make others uncomfortable.”

After protesters refused the police commands to turn around – as it is against for the law for pedestrians to be on the roadway – the arrests of eight men and four women took place. They were given $120 citations and released.

There were no injuries to police or protesters, but the demonstrators might have gotten the message that police patience is running out.

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Karista Baldwin studied constitutional law, politics and criminal justice.
Karista Baldwin has studied constitutional law, politics and criminal justice. Before college, she was a lifelong homeschooler in the "Catholic eclectic" style.
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