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Homeless Protest Snarls Traffic On Lake Shore Drive During Morning Commute

By Josh McGhee | September 7, 2017 9:38am | Updated on September 7, 2017 10:15am
 A group of protesters aiming to help Uptown's homeless temporarily blocked traffic on Lake Shore Drive Thursday.
A group of protesters aiming to help Uptown's homeless temporarily blocked traffic on Lake Shore Drive Thursday.
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DNAinfo/Josh McGhee

UPTOWN — A group of protesters aiming to help Uptown's homeless temporarily blocked traffic on Lake Shore Drive Thursday, snarling the busy morning commute. 

Chanting "give us homes or leave us alone" and marching onto Lake Shore Drive, the protesters and "tent city" residents aimed to stop the city-ordered evacuation of viaducts Uptown's homeless call home. The protesters blocked southbound traffic for about 15 minutes at 8:35 a.m. before police directed them off Lake Shore Drive.

Last month, the tent city residents were served a 30-day notice to evacuate the viaducts at Lawrence and Wilson avenues.

RELATED: Uptown's Tent Cities Preparing To Evacuate Viaducts As 30-Day Notice Issued

At one point, the southbound Wilson entrance ramp and the Lawrence Avenue entrance ramp were closed by police. By 9:35 a.m., all of the ramps were reopened. 

Four protesters were arrested, according to H. Kapp-Klote, communications director for One Northside, a group that has been fighting the evacuation. One person was taken to an area hospital by ambulance. 

Those arrested included Carol Aldape and Mark Saulys, both tent city residents; the Rev. Fred Kinsey, pastor of Unity Lutheran Church in Uptown; and Adam Gianforte, Kapp-Klote said. 

After the group was moved off Lake Shore Drive, protesters continued to camp out near the Montrose exit, waving signs as traffic passed.

The Lawrence Avenue viaduct and Wilson Avenue viaduct are both on the list of "most traveled structurally deficient bridges in Illinois." Both bridges were built in 1933 and are crossed about 100,000 times per day by motorists.

Residents have known about the planned bridge rehab for months, but some have no idea what they'll do when they're kicked out of the viaducts, as the bridges have served as a last refuge for the homeless in Uptown. 

Those who call tent city home now have until 7 a.m. Sept. 18 to leave the viaducts, according to a city notice.