Jesse Jackson Shuts Down Expressway to Protest Gang Members Shooting Each Other
102 people were shot in Chicago and 15 killed over the Fourth of July weekend.
Jesse Jackson, the Rev Pfleger (an Obama mentor and Farrakhan fan) and some other lefty clergy had a plan. Shut down an expressway.
The showdown between police and the organizers of a march against gun violence culminated Saturday in the shadow of the 76th Street overpass on the Dan Ryan Expressway.
For weeks, the Rev. Michael Pfleger said his intention was to shut down the busy South Side expressway for a demonstration designed to focus a spotlight on crime, joblessness and poverty plaguing city neighborhoods. Chicago police urged him to use a neighborhood street instead of the interstate. Illinois State Police threatened arrests.
The Saturday morning march kicked off with a compromise: demonstrators in half the northbound lanes, traffic in the others, separated by a barrier of highway trucks, emergency vehicles and uniformed officers.
But with semi-trucks crawling past the few thousand protesters crowded onto the expressway, Pfleger, the march’s chief organizer, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson stopped and reiterated their desire to fill all northbound lanes with chanting, drumming demonstrators. The priest from St. Sabina Catholic Church spoke with commanders at the scene, including Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
After about an hour, with protesters pressing toward the police line and traffic squeezing by in single file, officers agreed to close off the remainder of the lanes.
You might ask, what’s the point of this? Gang members are shooting other gang members. And occasional innocent bystanders.
How does shutting down an expressway do anything except get Jackson and Pfleger in the news?
“We came out here to do one thing: to shut it down,” Pfleger said. “We came here to get their attention. Hopefully we got their attention. … Today was the attention-getter, but now comes the action.”
As the march stalled during the pavement negotiations, he asked the crowd, “Hands up, who’s ready to go to jail?” Protesters’ hands rocketed into the air.
“This day is your day,” Jackson told the demonstrators, and the nearby protesters repeated after him in a chant. “Our mission, shut the highway down, our mission, first-class schools … our mission, stop guns and drugs from coming in, and jobs going out.”
Earlier, demonstrators gathered near 79th and State streets. Some hoisted signs that read “NO MORE DRUG WAR” and “NO GUNS,” with an illustration of a handgun crossed out.
You know what stops gang violence? Arrests. A police presence.
Not only did this publicity stunt mess up traffic, but it diverted police officers who might have managed to stop more shootings.
Black Lives Matter race riots correlate neatly with a rise in homicides in places like Baltimore. If urban leaders want to stop shootings, they need to do what was done in the eighties and throw their weight behind the police. Instead the Ferguson Effect demonized and suppressed the police presence leading to a high death toll. And Jesse Jackson is politically benefiting from it.