Father Pfleger says march on Dan Ryan was first step

CHICAGO -- Father Michael Pfleger said Monday the march on the Dan Ryan Expressway demonstrated one thing above all, it’s time for serious and immediate action.

“I think at the end of that, people felt really empowered,” Father Pfleger said. “And felt like they had made a statement that ‘We’re upset, we’re mad and time’s up on waiting.”

The historic peace march shut down the expressway.  It stopped traffic and started a conversation.

“It certainly has gotten the attention by those in power,” Father Pfleger said. “We’ve been getting responses from Indonesia, London and Germany.  Now though, comes the solution.”

Monday Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner spoke about the march saying he was disappointed that the group shut down the expressway.

“The tactics used in that protest were wrong,” he said.  “No one should walk onto an Interstate expressway.  No one. It is dangerous.  It is wrong.”

But Rauner said he supports the overall point of the march and put the blame for the city’s problems on Chicago politicians.

“The city of Chicago is suffering. There's massive failure by the political leaders involved here. We need to change the system,” Rauner said.

“The governor needs to go back and read what civil disobedience and direct action is doing things that are not acceptable, not legal, but doing it nonviolently and peacefully,” Father Pflger said in response to Rauner’s comments.

Father Pfleger wants to secure meetings with top policy makers and come up with what he called an “aggressive” plan of action on violence, poverty and education.

“What are we going to do to make sure that we offer opportunity to that 58,000 who are not working?  How are we going to strengthen our school system? How are we going to make sure that every school looks like Whitney Young and Jones Commercial?”

He said  the solution will come with public resources and personal responsibility, knowing that the people in the neighborhoods also must be committed to stopping violent crime.

“We began the turn on Saturday,” he said.  “Now we’re going to continue to turn until we really see that there’s a serious, targeted effort to solve this problem of violence at its roots.”

Pfleger said his time table for action is a few weeks.  If there’s no progress, he said there will be more direct action, and more civil disobedience.