Protesters Calling for Cease-Fire in Gaza Temporarily Blocked Traffic Near O’Hare Airport

O’Hare International Airport is pictured in a file photo. (WTTW News)O’Hare International Airport is pictured in a file photo. (WTTW News)

Protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza blocked traffic near O’Hare International Airport Monday morning, closing lanes of I-190 and keeping cars and buses from getting to domestic terminals.

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Demonstrators used the traffic shutdown to bring attention to the continuing war in Palestine and push for a cease-fire in Gaza. Traffic flow resumed by about 9:20 a.m., according to a social media post from airport officials.

The protest is a potential preview of what’s to come as Chicago prepares to host tens of thousands of people in high-profile fashion when the Democratic National Convention begins Aug. 19.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who was instrumental in securing the DNC, said he supports the rights of anyone to use their First Amendment protections “and protest if they would like to.”

But, in response to reporters’ questions at an unrelated event on Monday, the Democrat indicated support for law enforcement intervention if protests become too obtrusive.

“I do not think that they should be disruptive of the traffic of people trying to get from one place to another,” Pritzker said. “I think they can have their voices heard and let people move along their day. And I’m convinced that law enforcement out to make sure that those byways and highways are open for people, and still be respectful of those protests.”

Pritzker said there are always protests at political conventions, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to Chicagoans that they will happen in concert with the DNC.

“I don’t think that anybody is unfamiliar with the protests that have occurred as a result of the Israel/Hamas war,” he said. “But, I do think that, again, we have to make sure that at all times that people are able to get where they want to go, while at the same time respecting the people who are protesting.”

The Coalition to March on the DNC, a group of self-described “progressive forces,” on Saturday met to make their preparations for protesting leading up to and during the DNC.

“We intend to keep building pressure on these genocidal Democrats in the lead-up to the DNC, and we expect that tens of thousands of people from all across the U.S. will join us as we protest and march on the DNC to demand an end to all U.S. aid to Israel,” said Kobi Guillory, spokesperson for the Coalition to March on the DNC and co-chair of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, last week in a news release.

Would-be protesters are also suing to reverse the city of Chicago’s rejection of permits to gather and march near the United Center, which will serve as a headquarters for the convention.

Roadways reopened by mid-morning Monday, though traffic disruptions were expected. 

The Chicago Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the police response to Monday’s demonstration.

The CPD, FBI, U.S. Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are coordinating security for the DNC, with federal agencies responsible for activity in and near the convention sites and local police in charge of security outside of those perimeters.

Contact Amanda Vinicky: @AmandaVinicky[email protected]

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