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Governor says free speech is a right, but doesn’t support protesters blocking traffic

Monday, Apr 15, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Here’s a clip of the protest this morning which blocked traffic near O’Hare Airport


* Coverage…

* The governor was asked about the O’Hare protests at an unrelated news conference

Q: Governor Could you also talk about what’s going on at O’Hare this morning and I’m not sure because you’ve been here doing this, but there’s been a rather large protest people have had to literally walk from the highway up to O’Hare because of the Palestinian protest. And it seems to be perhaps a preview of what we might see for the DNC this summer.

Pritzker: Well, first of all, I support the idea that people should you know express their First Amendment rights and protest if they would like to.

I do not think that they should be disruptive of the traffic of people trying to get from one place or to another. I think they can have their voices heard and let people move along their day.

I’m convinced that law enforcement ought to make sure that those byways and highways are open for people and still be respectful of those protests.

Q: Are you concerned people are going to watch this tonight and say I’m out of here this summer when the DNC comes because look what’s already going on today?

Pritzker: Look, there are protests at every convention. I have to say every four and eight years. And so I don’t think it’s any surprise to people that there would be protests. They come in all shapes and sizes. And I don’t think that anybody’s unfamiliar of the protests that have occurred because of the Israel-Hamas war. 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 were protesting.

Q: Some of the groups that are wanting to protest the DNC say that the permitting process is unfair. What do you think of that?

Pritzker: As you know, the state’s not in charge of that permitting process. And you know, and again, I respect peoples’ right to protest.

I also respect peoples’ right to come to the convention and be able to get where they want to go without having to be greeted with people yelling at them as they’re walking to the convention hall.

Having said that, again, First Amendment rights are immutable and we ought to be protecting those wherever we can.

Please pardon any transcription errors.

       

72 Comments
  1. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 11:37 am:

    A perfect example of how to win friends and influence people. i hope they had a sign up sheet become am sure so many people now understand their cause and will want to support it. /S


  2. - NIU Grad - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 11:45 am:

    There’s a difference between freedom of speech and disrupting someone else’s right to travel freely in public spaces.


  3. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 11:52 am:

    Gov. Pritzker’s remarks are bordering on banality. He will have to make an actual statement at some point.


  4. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 11:56 am:

    - A perfect example of how to win friends and influence people. -

    Do a little reading on the tactics used in the civil rights movement and let us know what you find out.


  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 11:57 am:

    ===bordering on banality===

    Yeah.


  6. - Model T - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 11:57 am:

    Perhaps you should do a little reading on the civil rights movement, Excitable Boy.


  7. - Jocko - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 11:59 am:

    Free speech doesn’t give anyone the right to be a nuisance.

    BTW, any idea when the 130 hostages will be returned?


  8. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:01 pm:

    - Perhaps you should do a little reading on the civil rights movement, Excitable Boy. -

    I have, but thanks for the advice.


  9. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:08 pm:

    ===Free speech doesn’t give anyone the right to be a nuisance.===

    Not true. At all.


  10. - Socially DIstant watcher - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:09 pm:

    Time, place, and manner, people.

    Learn it, live it, love it


  11. - low level - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:12 pm:

    So they succeeded in making people walk to their terminals. What do they expect to accomplish by doing that?


  12. - Rudy’s teeth - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:13 pm:

    Protesters blocking access to OHare to demonstrate re: a conflict over 6,000 miles away might refocus their efforts closer to home.

    In the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago, a young girl was killed, two other children are in critical condition and nearly ten were injured in this mass shooting at a gathering. Where are the protesters?


  13. - JS Mill - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:17 pm:

    =Free speech doesn’t give anyone the right to be a nuisance.=

    Civil disobedience is an accepted form of protest and expression of free speech.

    I don’t support the pro palestinian protesters at all, i am very tempted to join a pro Israel march. So few people read their history these days.
    I would be ticked if I couldn’t get to my flight too. But what they are doing is exercising their right to free speech.


  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:17 pm:

    ===Where are the protesters? ===

    Whataboutism alert.

    But, since you asked…

    An organization called Increase The Peace is planning a prayer vigil at the scene of the shooting at 6 p.m. Monday. They say they want to pray for the family and the community.

    “The tragic mass shooting in the Back of the Yards over the weekend was a cowardly act, and we are doing this prayer vigil as a way to show our support for the family — as a way to unite our community against the violence in our neighborhoods, and to say enough is enough,” Berto Aguayo, executive director of Increase the Peace, said.

    https://abc7chicago.com/chicago-mass-shooting-back-of-the-yards-ariana-molina-52nd-street/14667301/


  15. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:18 pm:

    === But what they are doing is exercising their right to free speech===

    They’re also endangering lives and obstructing interstate commerce.


  16. - Dude - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:25 pm:

    I believe the protesters are mostly right about their beliefs. Which is why I condemn their actions in the strongest possible terms- they are doing nothing to help the Palestinian people and are only coddling their own self-righteous egos.
    Blocking traffic on a highway leading to O’Hare is just about the stupidest method of protest I’ve heard of. It’s only going to make people hostile to your cause, and view you as an insincere ineffective DSA type


  17. - ChicagoVinny - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:30 pm:

    Civil disobedience also means accepting the consequences be what may, such as getting arrested for violating traffic laws.

    I think the thing that strikes me is the Chicago City Council went out on a limb and passed a cease fire resolution. A lot of people aren’t happy with unconditional US support of the Netanyahu government.

    What’s the strategy here? Where do you choose to protest? Israeli consulate in Chicago? Or how about one of the many Federal buildings? Or blocking traffic at O’Hare and making your allies on the council have egg on their face for backing you.


  18. - 47th Ward - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:31 pm:

    ===They’re also endangering lives…===

    Yes, and the US Supreme Court just ruled that protest organizers can face consequences if individual protesters cause injuries. This decision applies for now only in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, where it is expected to have a very chilling impact on the ability to protest.

    CTU, Critical Mass, Black Lives Matter, Pro-Palestinian activists all should read this closely. The Court severely restricted protest rights. With its current makeup, I doubt will see any cases that reverse this set back.

    https://www.vox.com/scotus/24080080/supreme-court-mckesson-doe-first-amendment-protest-black-lives-matter


  19. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:35 pm:

    “So they succeeded in making people walk to their terminals. What do they expect to accomplish by doing that?”

    I’m sure the goal is something very meaningful such as a ceasefire resolution. Those change everything.


  20. - JS Mill - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:35 pm:

    =They’re also endangering lives and obstructing interstate commerce.=

    And on the wrong side of history.


  21. - Webster - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:46 pm:

    =But what they are doing is exercising their right to free speech.=
    General protesting is one thing, blocking traffic is another. According to the Illinois Public Demonstrations Law this is an unlawful act. https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1658&ChapterID=39


  22. - low level - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:48 pm:

    ==I’m sure the goal is something very meaningful such as a ceasefire resolution. Those change everything.==

    Right? The Chicago City Council passed the ceasefire resolution and Israel immediately stood up and took notice and decided they want to go into Rafah. Great move by MBJ and his DSA allies.


  23. - Amalia - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:49 pm:

    They are not doing their cause any favors by this kind of protest. But I don’t even understand what their cause is. There is a significant anti Israel and anti Semitic tone to many of the protests and folks who disrupt and social media chatter. that makes it difficult to support the legitimate wish for a two state solution. If they truly cared they would not support Hamas.


  24. - Demoralized - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 12:57 pm:

    ==But I don’t even understand what their cause is==

    Agreed. I have no idea what they are hoping to accomplish here and I suspect they don’t either other than being a nuisance and thinking it’s “cool” to do this.


  25. - Don't Bloc Me In - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:09 pm:

    There is a legitimate discussion to be had regarding free speech vs. civil disobedience. There may be some overlap, but I see them as distinct ideas. Free speech is a right, but civil disobedience is a tradition in our country. One can be arrested for civil disobedience, and should be prepared for that. Blocking roadways and traffic is civil disobedience. I’m not sure they picked the right method to spread their message.


  26. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:14 pm:

    ===and I suspect they don’t either other than being a nuisance and thinking it’s “cool” to do this. ===

    I think there’s a lot of that involved here. But that is true about a lot of civil disobedience.


  27. - Mark D - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:14 pm:

    === BTW, any idea when the 130 hostages will be returned? ===

    They’re probably buried in a rubble pile, or if they’re fortunate enough to still be alive, on the brink of starvation. Isn’t it strange how indiscriminately bombing and starving an entire population also harms the hostages that we’re supposed to be so gravely concerned about?


  28. - City Zen - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:18 pm:

    ==such as getting arrested for violating traffic laws.==

    625 ILCS 5/11-1009: every pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to the authorized emergency vehicle.

    Of course, you need someone brave enough to enforce the law.


  29. - Mark D - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:22 pm:

    === I believe the protesters are mostly right about their beliefs. Which is why I condemn their actions in the strongest possible terms- they are doing nothing to help the Palestinian people and are only coddling their own self-righteous egos. ===

    I agree with this, but I empathize with their frustration. The situation in Gaza is apocalyptic, enabled and funded by President Biden despite being opposed by a majority of his constituents. If we think a protest like this is disruptive, just wait until the DNC - it has potential for a 1968-type disaster.


  30. - Model T - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:22 pm:

    Sure doesn’t seem that way, Excitable Boy


  31. - H-W - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:23 pm:

    The First Amendment Right to protest is about being heard, being a nuisance, about influencing people, about disrupting.

    At the same time, protesters do not have a First Amendment right to prevent others from living their lives, going about their daily business, etc. So when a protest is held in order to be heard, other people still have the right to egress and ingress. If you block a road, you better make sure people are not prevented from getting where they are going in a reasonable manner.

    Preventing people from accessing O’Hare and thereby requiring them to possibly miss their flights seems to cross the line for me. The people being compelled to hear grievances in this case may in fact be directly harmed (missed flights) and experience undue and unnecessary stress. They are not the cause of the problem that leads to the protest and may not be related to the problem in the slightest.

    I am opposed to Israel’s level of revenge in Palestine. “Seven times seventy” is an unjust formula in my moral ethos, unless we are talking about forgiveness and turning the other cheek.

    That said, preventing others from traveling in the name of protest is an escalation, not a protest.


  32. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:25 pm:

    I fed you once, troll, that’s all you’re going to get.


  33. - Demoralized - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:30 pm:

    ==despite being opposed by a majority of his constituents==

    Who cares?


  34. - Gravitas - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:32 pm:

    Bridges in San Francisco were blocked by similar protests today.

    Not good.


  35. - Montrose - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:33 pm:

    I agree with H-W. To add on, and others have said this in one way or another, I sincerely don’t understand the strategy. Who is the target when you do this particular protest? Is the target voters and the theory voters will blame Biden and his pro-Israeli policies for why they missed their flight, thus putting pressure on the president? Is there some inside game I am unaware of that protests like this are helping get traction?

    These aren’t rhetorical questions. I really hope there are substantive answers to these questions that point to some thoughtful strategy, even if it’s not a winning one.


  36. - H-W - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:33 pm:

    Re: Civil Disobedience

    Civil Disobedience is about intentionally not obeying unjust laws, and a willingness to accept harm for failing to obey unjust laws.

    Driving to O’Hare to catch a flight is not unjust, and preventing people from driving to O’Hare (in this case) is not disobeying unjust laws (civil disobedience).

    The strategy of having their voices heard in this case invokes potential real harm upon others unnecessarily, and in ways unrelated to the concerns of the protestors regarding Palestine.

    What seems to have occurred at O’Hare is not civil disobedience. It is protest, but it is not civil disobedience.

    Causing harms or potential harms through protest is an escalation of harms to others. It is a race to the bottom.


  37. - cermak_rd - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:33 pm:

    I’ve said it before, the Palestinian spokespeople and movement leaders seem to be not very smart. This kind of thing doesn’t get people on your side. It annoys people.
    You can see some of the same reactions to pro-Palestianian spokespeople and actions in Germany.
    Very few think they don’t have the right to speak their mind and protest, even if it inconveniences others a little. But making people miss their flights and preventing emergency vehicles from traveling are not cool. And just generate and/or reinforce opposition to their cause.


  38. - Gravitas - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:49 pm:

    Some of these protests are antagonizing people.

    The goofs at the Teamster headquarters on the West Side cheering the Iranian drone strikes on Israel Sunday looked like idiots.

    My late grandfather was from a family of William Jennings Bryan Democrats. In 1968, he cast his vote for Nixon in response to the protests and riots in Chicago at the national convention.

    There are limits to what protests can accomplish and some people ought to consider unintended consequences.


  39. - Bruce( no not him) - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:53 pm:

    Anyone can protest anything at any time. As long as I’m not inconvenienced. S/


  40. - Responsa - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 1:59 pm:

    There is video clearly showing CPD vehicles positioned/wedged on either side of the road-sitting protesters. They were there, they could have moved the protesters but they did not. They protected them. The CPD presence also did not allow commuters to get out of their cars and forcibly move the protesters aside so traffic could begin moving forward slowly as has happened in other states and countries during similar thoroughfare protest blockades. The location of the police presence shows that they had prior intelligence that the protest would take place. The Mayor has much to account for regarding this morning’s debacle.


  41. - New Day - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:01 pm:

    “Gov. Pritzker’s remarks are bordering on banality. He will have to make an actual statement at some point.”

    I don’t understand your point. JB was very clear. I support people using the first amendment to express their views. I don’t support them shutting down the roads and preventing people from reaching their destinations. Strongly implied in this is a belief that those shutting the roadway should be removed by force. Politely. Respectfully. But forcefully.

    Unfortunately local law enforcement does not report to him. This is a job for CPD and they need to do it.


  42. - Just Me 2 - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:08 pm:

    Not just in Chicago today. This was a coordinated effort in other cities today as well.


  43. - Steve - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:09 pm:

    Free speech doesn’t mean one has a right to engage in a RICO enterprise to restrain trade and travel. Why did the Chicago police allow this to happen? Those inconvenienced should consider legal action against the lawbreakers.


  44. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:10 pm:

    ===This is a job for CPD ===

    ISP patrols the expressways.


  45. - Mark D - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:13 pm:

    === Who cares? ===

    The guy trying to win an election?


  46. - low level - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:15 pm:

    ==I fed you once, troll, that’s all you’re going to get.==

    Another winning strategy if I ever saw one…


  47. - JJJJJJJJJJ - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:16 pm:

    I think a lot of people discussing the 1st amendment here are missing the point. Obviously they’re breaking the law.

    Like a lot of protesters all over the place I assume these protesters are well aware that they are breaking the law and willing to deal with the consequences of doing so.

    Discourse that boils down to “is this legal or not” is not particularly interesting discourse.


  48. - Frida's boss - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:32 pm:

    Can I ask why the majority of protestors wear masks? What are they scared of?
    Last week, the Death to America chants in Dearborn Michigan and Congresswoman Tlaib ran away from a reporter rather than answer a question about it.
    This weekend, another incident with Sigcho-Lopez deciding he hates this country again. I’m sure his statement will say he wasn’t present for the translation services provided to say “Death to America and Death to Israel”.


  49. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:35 pm:

    Their problem is Hamas.
    They should be protesting Hamas.
    And speaking of Hamas, in addition to the hostages, what about the slaughter of nearly 1,200 men, women, children, and infants?


  50. - Steve - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:40 pm:

    Who exactly is paying these protestors to disrupt traffic and put peoples’ lives at risk?


  51. - Mark D - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:45 pm:

    === what about the slaughter of nearly 1,200 men, women, children, and infants? ===

    “What about”? Everyone is well aware of the atrocities committed by Hamas. In the following months, Israel has slaughtered roughly 30x that many, with no end in sight. Why *shouldn’t* Israel be held to a higher humanitarian standard than a terrorist organization? If you’re truly concerned about the hostages, shouldn’t you be protesting the Israeli government as well for endangering and starving said hostages?


  52. - Former Downstater - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:45 pm:

    ==Who exactly is paying these protestors to disrupt traffic and put peoples’ lives at risk?==

    *A George Soros conspiracy theorist has entered the chant*


  53. - Steve - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:47 pm:

    It appears to be an organized effort? Do these people have jobs? How did they communicate?


  54. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:49 pm:

    ===Who exactly is paying these protestors===

    Hilarious. Have you ever met any of those folks?

    ===How did they communicate? ===

    Telepathy!


  55. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:50 pm:

    ===Can I ask why the majority of protestors wear masks?===

    To prevent identification?


  56. - Former Downstater - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 2:56 pm:

    ==Do these people have jobs?==

    I know, right?!? It’s amazing how no one in America has jobs with vacation days, Mondays off, or later starting hours.

    So they must all be unemployed.


  57. - Demoralized - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:11 pm:

    ==Everyone is well aware of the atrocities committed by Hamas==

    These sorts of people don’t care. These are the sorts of people that have justified Hamas’ actions. So, no, everyone is not “well aware.”


  58. - H-W - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:18 pm:

    === to engage in a RICO enterprise to restrain trade and travel ===

    Uh, no.


  59. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:19 pm:

    ===Those inconvenienced should consider legal action against the lawbreakers. ===

    I hear DeVore is available.

    Seriously, it wasn’t that long ago that conservatives frowned upon filing frivolous lawsuits. But, I suppose, you’re not actually a conservative.


  60. - Former Downstater - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:25 pm:

    @Steve, so you advocate suing people you insinuated early couldn’t possibly have jobs? That seems productive.

    Pick a lane. You’re all over the road, buddy.


  61. - Demoralized - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:32 pm:

    ==so you advocate suing people==

    Perhaps Jackie Chiles can be his attorney.

    “It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous”


  62. - Suburban Mom - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:35 pm:

    ===In the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago, a young girl was killed, two other children are in critical condition and nearly ten were injured in this mass shooting at a gathering. Where are the protesters?===

    Tell me you don’t read any Latino news sources without telling me you don’t read any Latino news sources.


  63. - Back to the Future - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:37 pm:

    Just don’t believe anyone is going to be pro Hamas or anti Hamas or pro or con a ceasefire because (at worse) they miss an airplane flight and have to catch the next plane to wherever they were going.
    These protestors are risking arrest to express themselves. Happens all the time in America.
    They wanted to get publicity for this ceasefire issue and they succeeded. Seems like no one was hurt.
    No reason to start overreacting.


  64. - cermak_rd - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:53 pm:

    Back to the Future, As long as everyone is made whole that missed a flight due to the protests, I don’t have a problem. This time. But if they keep doing these road blocking exercises, they are going to wind up with someone dying due to lack of immediate medical care because an ambulance could not get through to the victim. And then I suppose the individual protesters responsible can deal with the manslaughter charges.


  65. - JB13 - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:58 pm:

    It’s starting to feel like 2020 again.

    “Just blocking a road? No big deal. It’s their right. This is America. You’re just being inconvenienced. Stop overreacting.”

    Up next: It’s just property. Businesses have insurance. Etc etc.

    Fun stuff.


  66. - Mark D - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 3:58 pm:

    === Tell me you don’t read any Latino news sources without telling me you don’t read any Latino news sources. ===

    Seriously. Even Block Club has frequent reporting about anti-violence marches in these communities with regularity. Has there *ever* been a good faith “but what about protesting local violence?” inquiry that wasn’t typical reactionary whataboutism?


  67. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 4:05 pm:

    === Has there *ever* been a good faith “but what about protesting local violence?” inquiry that wasn’t typical reactionary whataboutism? ===

    Nope.


  68. - Vader - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 4:07 pm:

    Anyone has the right to protest, but their rights should not infringe on anyone else’s rights. Blocking travel to O’Hare does nothing to effect change in the middle east and does not bring anyone being inconvenienced to support their cause. I suspect many of them don’t even care about the cause, they just want to feel like they disrupted others to make themselves feel better


  69. - RNUG - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 4:23 pm:

    I’m thinking blocking access to the airport might be considered as interfering with interstate commerce and be punishable under federal law.


  70. - H-W - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 4:47 pm:

    @ RNUG

    True, but it is not a RICO offense, in that it lacks the -CO


  71. - Gravitas - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 6:28 pm:

    What will they say if the protesters shut down O’Hare International Airport when the delegates to the DNC are coming to Chicago?

    Will the apologists react differently if that happens this summer?


  72. - Dotnonymous x - Monday, Apr 15, 24 @ 7:40 pm:

    - Free speech doesn’t give anyone the right to be a nuisance. -

    Not true. At all. - Rich Miller

    Generation uncomfortable can not tolerate any nuisance…call the Comfort/Anti-Nuisance police…before there’s a hissy fit!


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