About 200 demonstrators briefly shutdown Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive as they marched through one of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods Thursday to draw attention to gun violence in the city’s poorer areas.
Organizers hoped the march would draw attention to violence, corruption and the lack of economic investment in the city’s African-American neighborhoods. The protesters are also demanding the resignation of police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel for failure to stem gun violence.
Johnson has asserted in recent weeks violent crime in the city has declined, attributing it to new police tactics. However, he conceded more has to be done in the neighborhoods where much of the violence takes place.
“There are too many killings in Chicago, there are too many police-involved killings in Chicago,” said Tio Hardiman, one of the demonstration’s organizers. “It’s time to change the narrative in Chicago.”
City plows and garbage trucks blocked traffic on Lake Shore Drive in the vicinity of the protest. It brought traffic to a standstill as motorists were forced to exit the roadway.
After protesting on Lake Shore Drive, the demonstrators marched to Wrigley Field as fans were arriving for a Chicago Cubs game, snarling traffic and attracting onlookers. Chicago police performed rolling street closures as the march progressed, creating traffic headaches across the North Side.
The protesters marched through a crowded neighborhood of high-rise condominiums and multi-story townhouses and apartment buildings.
Rochelle Sykes told the Chicago Sun-Times she was marching for a 15-year-old nephew, Demetrius Griffin, whose body was found burning in a West Side alley in 2016.
“I’m glad folks can afford to live up in the penthouse, but there’s bad stuff going on here on the ground floor,” Sykes said.
The number of protesters appeared to grow to about 400 people once the marchers arrived in front of Wrigley Field, where the Cubs were hosting the San Diego Padres. The demonstrators waved signs demanding Emanuel’s resignation and chanted “one city, one Chicago” and “Rahm has to go,” as fans watched from inside the park.
Harold Gatewood, a neighborhood resident, pointed out streets in his neighborhood that are blocked off regularly for street festivals and activity at the ballpark.
“It’s nice to have the script flipped for a more important cause,” Gatewood said.
Several hundred police officers watched over the marchers, with officials saying they were there to protect the protester’s rights as well as public safety.
The demonstration came almost a month after anti-violence protesters shut down traffic on a Chicago interstate.
At least a thousand people participated in the July 6 march, led by Roman Catholic priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who said he couldn’t support Thursday’s march because the organizers were advocating the resignation of Emanuel and Johnson. He said that would do nothing to stop the violence.