Saturday, July 7, 2018

What will the carnage be like along the Dan Ryan come Saturday morning?

By the time you read this, it may be over.
DAN RYAN: A major Chicago thoroughfare

The “it” being the protest march by which some eight busloads of people being led by Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina parish will try to force the majority of Chicagoans who like to ignore the problem of urban violence to acknowledge the situation.

PROTESTERS SAY THEY plan to gather at 79th Street along the Dan Ryan, then walk onto the interstate highway (I-90/94) to march north for a mile-and-a-half – ultimately finishing their political statement at 67th Street.

Their intent is to disrupt the flow of traffic to the point where, for a bit of time Saturday morning, people won’t be able to easily commute around the city of Chicago.

Considering that the Dan Ryan Expressway is THE major path leading motorists from the South Side into downtown, these protesters could cause some serious inconvenience if they truly are capable of blocking up traffic.

Although the fact that they’re choosing to do so on a Saturday morning means they’re not messing with the rush of workers to jobs downtown that exists every weekday morning. I suppose that is Father Pfleger’s one concession to the rest of Chicago in staging this protest action.

I HAVE HEARD some people who say they plan to join in the protest that they’re not terribly concerned about interfering with traffic because they’re more concerned about the level of violence that occurs in parts of Chicago.

Some will say they think their inconvenience living in certain South and West side neighborhoods and having to tolerate such violence as an everyday fact of life is far worse than any drive into downtown that will be messed up Saturday morning.

But the part that has me wondering is for the people who feel compelled to drive along the Dan Ryan and have to pass through the portion from 79th to 67th streets.
The portion that protesters want to clog up
I have to confess – I am a South Side native who often has driven along the Dan Ryan (more than any other Chicago expressway) and that particular stretch of the road is one that I’m used to whizzing right past. I might occasionally catch a glimpse of a commuter waiting for a CTA Red Line ‘el’ train that runs down the middle of the Ryan.

BUT IT IS a part of the city that many pass by without giving it, or the surrounding neighborhoods, much of any thought.

I’m wondering how many people trying to drive along the Dan Ryan will suddenly find the pedestrians trying to walk in the road and will have trouble stopping in time.

Will we have protesting pedestrians being rushed to the hospital, or a pileup of a few automobiles that collided because they were trying to avoid hitting someone in the street.

There’s a reason that state law specifically prohibits people trying to walk along the expressways, and why the Illinois State Police (who have jurisdiction over the Dan Ryan) have warned they will arrest anybody who tries to carry out their protest to the fullest extent of their threats.

WHICH COULD MEAN there won’t be much of a protest along the Dan Ryan – instead, it will be eight bus loads of people being loaded into wagons and hauled away for arrest, Eventually, they will face court dates on charges of Criminal Trespassing to State-Supported Property – and any other charges that police and prosecutors deem necessary.
How busy will they be Saturday

Which will likely be decided by how peacefully they cooperate with police Saturday morning. The ones who persist in putting up a fight are the ones who most likely will get charges piled on – and wind up having no chance of working out a deal that results in all charges dropped.

The “worst case” scenario for Saturday morning is that protesters wind up getting killed, and a majority of people in this city turn cold-hearted and say they got what they deserved for walking along an Interstate highway.

Which would truly be the worst possible message that could be sent by people who are trying to make for a safer Chicago for all of us.


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