CHICAGO — Organizers planning an anti-violence march that could snarl traffic along its route from Lake Shore Drive to Wrigleyville during Thursday's evening rush hour — before a Cubs game and on the first day of Lollapalooza — went to City Hall Monday and made it clear they don't want Mayor Rahm Emanuel's backing for their demonstration.
Standing outside Emanuel's office, the Rev. Gregory Livingston said it would be ridiculous to seek Emanuel's approval since they are marching in part to call for him and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to step down because of their inability to get the city's violence under control. Livingston said he expects arrests at the march and did not rule out marchers attempting to force their way into Wrigley Field, where the Cubs are set to play the San Diego Padres that night.
"The call of the people is 'Resign Rahm,'" Livingston said. "So how, then, can you back your own regime change? How do you sanction your own termination? How dumb, naive and self-hating do you think we are?"
"The protest route has been well publicized. We have no need to talk with Superintendent Johnson," Livingston added. "Did Dr. King talk strategy with Bull Connor? With Gov. George Wallace?"
Emanuel, who ended up backing an anti-violence march led by the Rev. Michael Pfleger that shut down part of the Dan Ryan Expressway on the South Side on July 7, said last week that his decision on whether to also support this one would be based on organizers' public safety planning with police officials.
Livingston, who was a spokesman for Willie Wilson's 2015 mayoral campaign against Emanuel, said he had been contacted by representatives of the mayor's office and the Police Department to discuss the event. But he said those talks went nowhere and he did not expect them to continue.
Livingston was joined Monday by the Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church, who has said he will provide buses to transport marchers from the West Side to the planned start of the march at 4 p.m. at Diversey Parkway and Lake Shore Drive.
"Honestly, when the mayor endorses a protest, it's no longer a protest," Acree said. "It becomes a parade, and we're on serious business."
Acree and Livingston said they expect arrests.
"We have people who are committed, who are ready to get arrested," Acree added. "And those who don't, they'll stay back. But certainly, people are going to get arrested. And we will have attorneys and people who will provide resources to bail them out."
Organizers plan to shut down northbound Lake Shore Drive from Diversey north to Belmont Avenue. Protesters are then planning to make their way west to Clark Street and north to Wrigley Field, where the Cubs are set to play at 7:05 p.m.
Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police officials have met with some march "participating groups as recently as this weekend to discuss their plans and approximate size of the protest."
"In the end, CPD will protect individuals' right to demonstrate but we also have a responsibility to balance the potential public safety and traffic implications of the event," Guglielmi said in a statement.
Livingston declined to predict how large a crowd will turn up, saying only that they "need enough" to shut down the streets, and he's confident they will get that many. And he would not rule out attempting to get into Wrigley Field.
"That'll be your surprise," he said.