July 8 (UPI) — Thousands of people marched onto a Chicago expressway Saturday to protest gun violence.
Among the demonstrators were some parents whose children had been shot to death, the Chicago Tribune reported. The newspaper reported protester Delores Bailey, whose 15-year-old son Demario Bailey was fatally shot in 2014, shouted, “The blood of Jesus! … Put the guns down, keep the Bible up!”
Roman Catholic priest Michael Pfleger and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson spoke with Illinois State Police and Chicago Police superintendent Eddie Johnson about using the whole expressway for the march. About an hour after the march started, officers granted the crowd full access to the freeway.
An agreement previously reached Thursday had granted limited access to the Dan Ryan Expressway, but on Saturday, the Chicago Police Department later gave an order to shut down the expressway for crowd and traffic safety.
“Nonviolent demonstration is sometimes the only way to get the attention that will help change things,” Jackson said. “I’m perfectly willing to be arrested to bring attention to this crisis. … Stopping traffic is less damaging than the shooting and the killing and the jailing.”
Pfleger said the next step after the march will be to sit down with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and other city officials to discuss how to get more jobs and resources in neighborhoods and prevent violence.
Gov. Bruce Rauner was disappointed local officials shut down the freeway.
“This is unacceptable,” Rauner posted on Twitter. “We had clear parameters that allowed the protestors to be heard while respecting law and order. Instead, they chose instead to cause chaos.”
In another Twitter post, he added: I’m disappointed in the Mayor [Rahm Emmanuel]. There was an agreement in place. I am calling on the Mayor to take swift and decisive action to put an end to this kind of chaos. I will work with him in good faith and urge him to do his job so that the people of Chicago feel safe.”