CHAMPAIGN — A protest rally and march, planned for Thursday afternoon (April 19) at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall parking lots, has prompted Champaign police to announce road closures in the area from between 5:15 and 7:15 p.m.
Thousands of labor union members, students, Democrats and retirees are expected to meet Thursday to protest an appearance by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels at the Champaign County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center. Daniels recently signed into law a "right to work" bill.
Champaign police Wednesday issued a traffic advisory, saying the city will close Kirby Avenue east of Neil Street to Oak Street, and Oak Street between Kirby and St. Mary's Road.
The intersection of Neil and Kirby will be closed briefly for pedestrian crossings, said police, who urged motorists to avoid the area.
Message boards have been set up on Neil on the north and south side of Kirby to warn drivers of the closures.
"I would say we're going to have 3,000 to 5,000 people for this," said Larry Swope, executive director of the Illinois Pipe Trades Association. "But I wouldn't be surprised if there were more."
A stage will be set up in the southwest Assembly Hall parking lot, Swope said.
Demonstrators will begin gathering at 3 p.m., with speeches from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. The march to the Hilton will follow soon after.
Speakers from several union groups in Illinois and Indiana are scheduled to participate, including Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO; Henry Bayer of AFSCME Council 31; and Indiana AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Joe Breedlove.
"So-called 'right to work' and other attacks on collective bargaining are all about politics," Carrigan said. "These bills won't create a single job. We're here to send a strong message to the politicians here at (the Lincoln Day dinner) that 'right to work' is wrong for Illinois. It is wrong for working people everywhere."