Friday, June 29, 2018

Civil disobedience against violent crime? Or just a pain in the keister?

If the people of Chicago are complaining about something, there’s always a good chance that the Rev. Michael Pfleger is involved.

PFLEGER: Trying to 'tie up' Chicago?
That’s certainly the case these days, as Pfleger – the pastor of St. Sabina parish in the Auburn/Gresham neighborhood – has his plans to do a large-scale protest act come next weekend that is supposed to draw public attention to the level of urban violence we have in Chicago.

SPECIFICALLY, PFLEGER HAS plans to do his march along the Dan Ryan Expressway come the morning of July 7 – which is a Saturday.

Theoretically, Pfleger wants to have his supporters march along the highway that is a major thoroughfare leading people into and out of the various neighborhoods of the South Side.

He talks of wanting to clog up traffic so bad that people will have one heck of a time getting anywhere. Pfleger wants to create a massive inconvenience for the people of Chicago – which he says is nothing compared to the conditions that residents of select neighborhoods in Chicago have to endure when it comes to being at risk of being shot or killed in, or near, their own homes.

It seems the Police Department is trying to cooperate with the idea of a protest act. But the Chicago Sun-Times reports that they want Pfleger to turn his action into a march through the neighborhoods.

BECAUSE TO MAKE it anything other than risky for protesters to try to block up traffic along the Dan Ryan is going to mean several hundred police officers being diverted from their home police districts and doing duty along the Dan Ryan.

Anthony Riccio, a first deputy superintendent for the Police Department, says having that many officers reassigned potentially makes high-risk neighborhoods even more dangerous. Although it should be noted the Dan Ryan (Interstate 94) technically is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois State Police.

I already can envision the stories that will result if somebody gets killed in the Englewood neighborhood that Saturday because there were not the usual accompaniment of police in the South Side neighborhood.
Can Pfleger's protesters really jam up the Dan Ryan?
Not that Pfleger is swayed by such logic. He tells the Sun-Times that police are routinely diverted from their usual beats for events a lot less significant than his.


Pfleger and his followers plan to be along the Dan Ryan, starting around 95th Street, at 10 a.m. on July 7 – which is next Saturday.

I suspect that Pfleger thinks he’s already made enough of a concession by holding his protest on a weekend, rather than a weekday, when traffic would be even more intense.

Then again, it’s a bit of practicality. I have no doubt that if protesters tried to clog up the Dan Ryan during the week – even if it wasn’t during a morning or evening rush hour time slot – there would be many of those commuters trying to get to, or home from, downtown jobs who would persist in driving right through the protesters.

AND AFTER SUCH an act of “hit and run,” they’d argue that they’re the victims, with the protesters being trouble-makers who are able to engage in such actions solely because they’re “out of work bums” (or perhaps they’ll use more vulgar language).
Law enforcement of Chicago … 

For what it’s worth, I understand the point of doing a Dan Ryan protest rather than a neighborhood action. It would be way too easy for people to dismiss the latter as something irrelevant to their lives because they never set foot in “those” places.

A part of me thinks one person posting their thoughts on Facebook had a point this week when saying that if Pfleger really wanted to get the city’s attention, he’d try to clog up the Edens Expressway. As in a road traveling north to those neighborhoods and suburbs where the locals think urban violence is irrelevant to them.
… and Illinois will be busy July 7

Although I must also confess the protest is unlikely to impact me, no matter how out-of-hand it gets. I have an aunt who’s organizing our family’s annual summer get-together for that very same day; which means I won’t be anywhere near the Dan Ryan – although I’m sure my assorted cousins and I will be able to debate the merits of Father Pfleger’s actions for ourselves.


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