Chicago highway shutdown avoided after low protest turnout

Illinois law enforcement officials were able to avoid shutting down a major Chicago freight artery after a planned protest generated fewer than expected participants, according to local reports.

The demonstration against police brutality, organized by Black Lives Matter and other social justice groups, was expected to start with a rally at approximately noon local time at Robert Taylor Park in the city’s South Side. It was then expected to proceed onto a stretch of the Dan Ryan Expressway, which includes portions of Interstates I-90 and I-94.

However, “once they got going, police say they had them march down side streets,” according to a report from WLS-TV Chicago later in the afternoon. CBS Chicago quoted police as saying “small crowd size” was the reason they weren’t allowing marchers onto the expressway.

Law enforcement officials were not immediately available to comment.

To avoid potential delays, the Illinois State Police (ISP) had urged truck drivers moving through northeast Illinois to avoid the expressway in both directions within the city and to consider using I-290 to I-55 or I-294.

“Road closures are always a tactical decision based on the size and conduct of protests and the safety of officers, motorists and protesters,” ISP spokesperson Delila Garcia said in a statement earlier in the day.

“Working with local law enforcement including the [Chicago Police Department], ISP has facilitated and managed peaceful gatherings throughout the state this summer and to make sure these First Amendment activities are safe for all involved. This is standard operating procedure, and this effort is always in consultation with local law enforcement. We are in continuous communication and agreement with CPD about any and all events in Chicago this weekend.”

Garcia recommends truck drivers use the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Designated Truck Routes Map on for real-time traffic and detour information.