A Labor Day protest march may have failed to reach the Kennedy Expressway near O’Hare International Airport, but it did reach into taxpayers’ pockets for tens of thousands of dollars.
Police agencies assigned to the march spent at least $152,871.52 on their efforts, according to information obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times under the Freedom of Information Act.
Add to that the cost of an August march that shut down a northern stretch of Lake Shore Drive, and the total tally hits $214,662.82.
Illinois State Police wouldn’t say how many officers it allocated for the Labor Day protest; they did, however, provide the total personnel cost, including benefits: $119,391.90. The Chicago Police Department, sent 48 officers, which cost taxpayers $27,526.33. The site, on the Park Ridge/Rosemont border, also was staffed by 24 Park Ridge opolice officers ($5,528.22) and two officers from Rosemont ($425.07).
The stated goal of the Kennedy protest, organized by Rev. Gregory Livingston, was to gather on Cumberland Avenue near the Kennedy, then march onto the highway and block traffic. In the end, several dozen protesters showed up, but they were outnumbered by state troopers who filled the onramp, effectively blocking their path. Police arrested 12 marchers, including Livingston, who refused to get off the ramp.
It was the last of three attempts this summer to march onto an expressway to draw awareness to real issues facing neighborhoods on the South and West Side of Chicago.
Livingston said the number of law enforcement used for the Labor Day protest was excessive.
“When they come out there in that level of force, it is evidence to me of the levels of powers being threatened by the truth we are trying to draw awareness to,” Livingston said, adding that the problems he was trying to call attention to also could be considered a burden on taxpayers.
“The violence in this city is a bigger burden on the taxpayer, the lack of adequate education in this city is a larger burden upon the taxpayers and inadequate health care is a more of a burden on the taxpayer,” Livingston said.
According to the state police, the staffing was needed and consistent with how they approach every protest. The agency “will always ensure we take the necessary steps to do everything in our power to keep the public safe,” said Sgt. Jacqueline Cepeda, a state police spokesperson.
HT: Marathon Pundit