Several Protesters Arrested During Attempted March on Kennedy Expressway Near O'Hare

State Police said they spoke with protest leaders and made it clear demonstrators will be arrested if they enter the expressway.

Several anti-violence protesters were arrested Monday afternoon as they attempted to march on the Kennedy Expressway around 12:30 p.m. near O'Hare International Airport.

Just before stepping onto the ramp at Cumberland, protest leader Rev Gregory Livingston could be heard telling demostrators, "If you don't want to be arrested, go back now."

Livingston was among those arrested, according to reports.

Illinois and Chicago police insisted Labor Day travelers wouldn't feel an impact from anti-violence protesters who plan to shut down part of the Kennedy Expressway at noon on Monday near O'Hare International Airport.

"This morning [Chicago Police, Illinois State Police and] suburban agencies will be ensuring O'Hare demonstrators have a safe location to assemble," Chicago Police tweeted Monday, "while not disrupting airport operations or highway traffic."

State Police said they spoke with protest leaders and made it clear demonstrators will be arrested if they enter the expressway.

"We expect travel to remain uninterrupted," a police spokesman said.

Protesters began gathering around 11 a.m. at the Cumberland Avenue exit at the Kennedy Expressway. As the scheduled noon start time came and went, protest leaders said they were waiting on a bus of protesters to arrive before they attempted the march. The bus was stuck in traffic, they said.

They planned to march west on the expressway for about a mile to River Road.

By 11 a.m. state, city and suburban police assembled, creating a perimeter at the onramp of the Kennedy at Cumberland, blocking it.

Experts say about 8 million people will travel on Chicago-area tollways over the holiday weekend.

Authorities stressed Friday that entering an expressway is illegal, but organizers have not backed down from their calls to shut down the major roadway near the airport.

"Let’s not forget that shutting down expressways is illegal – that’s number one," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said. "You start talking about shutting down operations at O’Hare Airport, now we’re going to federal issues." 

In nearby Park Ridge, Chief Frank Kaminski said the city is planning to have extra officers on hand, though they're "hoping this is going to be a peaceful event."

"Our goal is to make sure all the major roads and thoroughfares are pretty clear," Kaminski said. "We’re going to work with the protesters to make sure they have a place to protest." 

Kaminski said residents were being notified to avoid the area Monday.

"We’re sending out notices to our residents just to stay away from the area for that time period just as precaution," Kaminski said. "Our goal is to make sure everybody is safe and secure and the event goes off peacefully."

The protesters, led by Rev. Livingston, briefly shut down part of Lake Shore Drive earlier this month, calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help all of Chicago. He said the protest is part of a continuing effort to secure more resources for neighborhoods where the bulk of the city's shootings take place. 

"We all share the goal of continuing to build more jobs in our neighborhoods, but rhetoric that ignores reality won't create a single job," Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins said in a previously issued statement.

"It is beyond ironic that Mr. Livingston would announce his desire to shut off access to the airports to demand more jobs for people living in Chicago's neighborhoods less than 24 hours after the Mayor announced 700 new airport concession jobs are being created and filled by residents in Englewood, Humboldt Park and beyond," Collins' statement continued.

"In fact, Mr. Livingston's plans would only harm thousands of people living in neighborhoods across Chicago who earn a good paycheck working at our airports on ground crews, at restaurants, as airline employees and beyond," Collins added. 

Another march in July organized by Rev. Michael Pfleger shut down traffic along the Dan Ryan Expressway on the city's South Side.

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