Virtue-signaling Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel sets up clash with Illinois State Police over expressway-blocking demonstration today
Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel is up for re-election next year and apparently is worried about his chances in a city where poverty and ethnicity matter a lot. The obscene level of murders on Chicago's streets and the spread of crime to the fanciest areas of the city are issues for the middle and upper classes, while anti-police sentiment is high among minorities, aggravated by the suppression of police dashcam video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald and subsequent protests upon its eventual release.
Into this volatile mix, add Father Michael Pfleger, the radical Catholic priest, who intends to lead an "anti-violence"[i] protest today, shutting down the Dan Ryan Expressway, the major freeway leading from the Chicago Loop to the city's southside.
Mayor Rahm yesterday came out in support of the expressway-blocking demonstrations. The only problem is that by Illinois state law, it is the State Police who exercise jurisdiction over the expressways. And the Illinois State Police, like the Chicago P.D. leadership, for that matter, oppose the demonstrations closing down the vital artery.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
Bucking the wishes of his own police department and the Illinois State Police, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday he supports allowing protesters – led by the Rev. Michael Pfleger – onto the Dan Ryan Expressway on Saturday for what's expected to be a significant anti-violence march.
Emanuel said he believes the march will raise awareness of anti-violence efforts. ...
Emanuel's comments came even as top cops from the Chicago and the Illinois State Police have asked Pfleger not to march onto the Dan Ryan and instead to keep the march to neighborhoods.
On Tuesday, Leo Schmitz, director of the Illinois State Police, who previously was commander of the Chicago Police Department's Englewood District just north of St. Sabina, said that the idea of marching along the busy expressway poses too great a threat to public safety.
"This call to protest on the Dan Ryan, however well-intentioned, could be considered reckless and must be strongly discouraged," Schmitz said. "The potential of death or injury to pedestrians on the expressway, no matter how righteous the cause, is enormous. ...
Also earlier in the week, Anthony Riccio, Chicago's first deputy police superintendent, said he sympathizes with the purpose of the peace march and understands Pfleger's desire to use disruption and inconvenience to bring maximum attention to his cause.
But Riccio said that by shutting down the Ryan, Pfleger might inadvertently bring more violence to the gang-plagued neighborhoods he is trying to help.
"We talked to the state police. They said it would have to be a complete shutdown of the expressway. They can't do a partial or leave a lane open," he said earlier this week.
"Emergency vehicles. Somebody who has a medical issue. Ambulances. Police cars. Fire trucks. We just think it's a very dangerous idea."
Since the world-famous murder plague mostly takes place in a couple of neighborhoods on the south and west sides, why not march through those streets? That's where people need to have "awareness" of "anti-violence efforts" (and what are they, besides marching around?).
So, unless something changes, today we may see the Chicago cops permitting marchers to walk onto the Dan Ryan Expressway, and then Illinois state cops arresting them. All, we hope, without anyone injured by an unsuspecting driver just trying to get to Aunt Mary's house for a weekend barbecue, something that apparently needs to be delayed or stopped in Father Pfleger's view.
[i] I am always confused by demonstrations with slogans like this. Who is actually in favor of violence? The only people needing persuading would seem to be the perps themselves, and they are not likely to be using the expressways, since their violence is mostly confined to the neighborhoods where drug-dealing takes place. And why punish people just trying to get somewhere on a Saturday (or during commuting hours, for that matter)? Who is persuaded by that?