Protests disrupt traffic into O’Hare during morning rush, 40 taken into custody

A passenger walks on the highway as he carries his luggage to O'Hare International Airport on Monday. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked a freeway leading to three O'Hare terminals Monday morning, temporarily stopping vehicle traffic into one of the nation's busiest airports and causing headaches for travelers. Associated Press
O'Hare passengers walk to the airport as a protest stalls traffic on westbound I-190. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

Forty people were taken into custody by Chicago police Monday after pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked traffic heading into O’Hare International Airport during the morning rush.

“Charges are pending at this time,” a Chicago Police Department spokesman said. Individuals detained by police included 31 women and nine men between 19 and 43 years old.

The protest on the westbound lanes of I-190 at the nation’s second busiest airport brought vehicles to a complete stop at one point, and some travelers were seen exiting vehicles and heading on foot to the airport, ABC 7 Chicago reported.

Videos posted on social media showed protesters stretched across I-190, holding signs saying “Free Palestine” and in support of a cease-fire in Gaza.

At around 9:30 a.m., things started returning to normal. “Inbound traffic into O’Hare on I-190 is resuming following earlier protest activity,” the Chicago Department of Aviation said on social media, advising people to allow extra time to get to the airport.

At an unrelated event Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, “I support the idea that people should 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 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,” Pritzker said.

Similar demonstrations occurred Monday in San Francisco on the Golden Gate Bridge and in New York City on the Brooklyn Bridge, according to authorities and media reports.

Chicago hosts the Democratic National Convention this August.

Asked about disruptions at the DNC, Pritzker said protests “of all shapes and sizes” are common at nominating conventions.

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

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