Chicago anti-violence march ends at Wrigley Field after shutting down Lake Shore Drive

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An anti-violence march ended at Wrigley Field after shutting down Lake Shore Drive in both directions at Belmont for 35 minutes at the beginning of rush hour Thursday afternoon.

Protesters spread out across both sides of Lake Shore Drive around 4:15 p.m. They began marching north up Lake Shore Drive before exiting and looping back around to Belmont Avenue. From there they headed west on Belmont to Clark Street, then north to Wrigley Field. They arrived at Wrigley Field around 5:45 p.m. They dispersed around 6:30 p.m. after speeches, chanting and a public prayer.

Police estimated about 150 people participated in the shutdown of Lake Shore Drive, though protesters said there were hundreds more not counted in the final number. About 300 extra police officers on foot, bike, vehicle and mounted horse were deployed.

There were no arrests or citations. Organizers and demonstrators said this was about civil disobedience, but disobedience to bring peaceful balance to the city.

Organizers said they chose to end the march at Wrigley because it is a high impact location. More than once they said part of the purpose of the march was to "redistribute the pain."

"This is the place where Mayor Rahm Emanuel has built his golden calf and draped it with our TIFF dollars and left black and brown people to starve to death in a food desert and drown in a bloody pool of gun violence," said organizer Eric Russell.

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Protesters marched on Lake Shore Drive to call attention to violence in Chicago.

Organizers want to bring the movement to fight the violence that is typically centered on the South and West sides of the city to the North Side. They're also calling for better schools and economic opportunity on the South and West sides.

Many of the demonstrators and organizers are sharply critical of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration as well, and called on the mayor and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to resign.

"At the end of the day they have the right to protest and to demonstrate, to air their grievances, and it's our obligation to keep them safe and permit them to do it, and that's what we did," said First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio.

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Participants in the anti-violence march on Lake Shore Drive discussed their reasons for marching Thursday.

Antionio Brown was one of the demonstrators. He marched with a picture of his son, Amari Brown.

"My son was killed in 2015 on the Fourth of July. He was 7-year-old. So I'm really just tired of the senseless violence. I'm trying to do everything that I can do to keep his name alive," Brown said.

"Everything that I do for him, if it's positive it helps me get through what I have to get through," he added.

Nicole Duncan marched for her 17-year-old son Corsean Lewis. He was killed 14 months ago this day. Duncan said he was killed by a Chicago police officer. Chicago police say he was killed in a shootout in Washington Park.

"What happened to him was wrong, shot more than 17 times," she said.

At Wrigley Field businesses prepared themselves for crowds. Some businesses boarded up windows, closed main entrances and upped security measures.

Parents were notified to pick up their children early from nearby schools.

The protest had an effect on the Cubs game, too; ticket brokers said they were getting more calls from ticketholders asking them to sell their seats because they didn't want to deal with the traffic or demonstrators.

Residents who live around Wrigley Field, however, said they support the marchers.

"We're gonna need to really get together and really stop this, because it's nonsense," said Prandle McCorkle, Lakeview resident.

While the crowd was loud, the demonstrators did not disturb any businesses along the route.

Demonstrators rallied for their cause then dispersed, but they also left a message for lawmakers.

"It makes no sense with all this money being spent why is that we cannot reduce homicides by 75 percent in Chicago. Why is it that we cannot have one year where you have 100 less homicides in Chicago?" asked organizer Tio Hardiman.
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