Father Pfleger plans march on Dan Ryan Expressway amid CPD concerns

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Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church is planning a march on the Dan Ryan Expressway on July 7. (WLS)

Father Michael Pfleger holds a peace march in Chicago's neighborhoods every Friday night, but he's planning a much larger event.

Pfleger, who presides over Saint Sabina Church, plans to shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway for a few hours July 7 to bring attention to not only gun violence, but the need for more jobs and better schools on the South and West sides.

"The whole purpose of a demonstration and direct action is something that is going to irritate people to get in their face," Pfleger said. "...We've done Michigan Avenue, we've done other things, but what we need to do is something that is going to raise the bar."

The march will occupy a stretch of the expressway in the northbound lanes between 79th Street and 67th Street. Pfleger said this arrangement will allow for State Street to be used as a traffic detour.

Top officials have urged Pfleger to call off the march or move it to a neighborhood street.

Police officers said they are worried that resources needed to keep neighborhoods safe over the holiday week will have to be diverted to keep marchers safe on the Dan Ryan.

One official suggested that violence will escalate if officers are pulled out of neighborhoods, but Pfleger denied that claim.

"So, we are saying every time there is an event downtown we are making neighborhoods dangerous," Pfleger said. "I've never heard that before."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel declined to answer questions about the dispute at public events Friday, but a statement released by his office stated: "The Mayor shares Father Pfleger's passion for and commitment to rooting out gun violence. CPD has some legitimate concerns about next week's scheduled march and department leadership is continuing to work with organizers to ensure the safety of the public."

Pfleger said he will not back down, even if it leads to death threats and hate calls to his office at St. Sabina.

"I have a list of hate calls coming in, its amazing how many we get," said St. Sabina Office Manager Glenda Fanklin.

Fanklin said the church is also receiving many calls of support.
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community-eventsprotestchicago police departmentrahm emanuelChicagoAuburn Gresham
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