Anti-violence protesters plan to shut down Chicago freeway

In this Dec. 31, 2016 file photo, The Rev. Michael Pfleger, center, Rev. Jesse Jackson, left, and state Sen. Jacqueline Collins, right, led hundreds in a march to Michigan Avenue, with crosses for all those killed by the Chicago force in 2016 and to call for an end to the violence in Chicago.

(Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

A group of protesters were planning on Saturday to march to a major Chicago highway as part of a broader push to increase the pressure on the officials to the gun violence that claimed hundreds of lives in the city.

The Dan Ryan Expressway — a highway that contains parts of the Highways 90 and 94 — was chosen because of its historical significance, because it is a symbol of the racial segregation in the 1960s.

Chicago police said the city saw 252 murders and 1,100 units in the first six months of this year, a decrease from the same period last year. But these crimes are highly concentrated in predominantly black, low-income neighborhoods.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and anti-violence activist on the city’s South side, which will lead Saturday’s march, said that the protesters carry a banner with a list of requirements. They are: more resources, jobs, better schools and stronger gun laws — things Pfleger says that they have been seeking for years.

“If people continue to ignore you, you take it up a notch. … We will continue to take it up a notch until we get the reactions.”

– The Rev. Michael Pfleger

“If people continue to ignore you, you take it up a notch,” Pfleger said. “We will continue to take it up a notch until we get the reactions.”

Hundreds and possibly thousands of people, including other religious leaders, the residents and the leaders of the community, was expected to join the march, despite the police warnings that a pedestrian who enters the expressway faces arrest and prosecution.

Illinois State Police, which has jurisdiction over highways, said the march could live in “great danger”, including protesters, the directors and the persons who access to the emergency services that can be blocked or delayed.

“This call to protest on the Dan Ryan, but well intended, is reckless,” Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz said.

Pfleger and Rev. Jesse Jackson, who also leads the protest, argue they have already tried marching through the neighborhood streets, outside churches and along the centre of Michigan Avenue, and that nothing has changed.

Jackson said that the city still “the ghetto limits” — real or imagined — is designed to “weapons and drugs in and jobs and schools.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

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