Chicago gun protesters close part of major interstate near downtown

Demonstrators aiming to close Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway to protest gun violence achieved part of their goal Saturday morning, gathering on at least one northbound lane as a line of police officers created a barrier to keep other lanes open to traffic.

The marchers, led by the Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church, are protesting the city’s high gun violence rates. They’re calling for "national common sense guns laws" and, for their communities, more public resources, more jobs, better schools and economic development.

March organizers had said they wanted to march on the portion of Interstate 94 between 79th and 68th streets.

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday along and on that stretch, as well as on a ramp and a grassy berm, video from CNN affiliate WLS showed.

"Shut it down! Shut it down!" the crowd shouted at one point.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, also at the protest, told demonstrators by megaphone: "We will not march on the side of the highway. We’re marching on the highway."

State police on Saturday morning said they, Chicago police and state transportation department workers would serve as a barrier between protesters and traffic, parking their own vehicles on the highway to separate protesters from the left lanes, allowing traffic to flow behind them. Public workers also stood between protesters and traffic, photos show.

State police director Leo Schmitz told reporters: "Illinois State Police will take necessary steps to ensure we prevent (anyone) from getting hurt."

"This whole thing is great if no one gets hurt and we can get it done," Schmitz said.

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