Police make arrests after speeding drivers block North Avenue in protest of living wage, better safety protection

CHICAGO (CBS) – Police arrested protesters and led them away in handcuffs late Tuesday afternoon as they demanded better pay and safer working conditions for drivers in Chicago.

As CBS 2’s Marybel González reported, rideshare drivers gathered outside the Uber Greenlight Chicago Hub at 1401 W. North Ave., just east of the Kennedy Expressway. They demanded that Uber and Lyft pay their drivers higher wages and introduce more safety measures to protect them

The drivers, represented by the Chicago Gig Alliance, complained that high gas prices and inflation are causing serious problems for their family budgets.

They also accused Uber and Lyft of failing to address their safety concerns — and in particular, protect them from carjacking and violence.

“When I get a ride offer, I don’t see a picture of the person. It could be a fake name. I have no idea who they are,” said rideshare driver Jayson Franklin, “and they know the police are very difficult by tracking who booked the trip.”

Franklin fears working, especially at night. He is among those demanding change.

“At the very least, we’re asking that Uber and Lyft raise the bar for passengers so that if there’s an incident, the criminals know they’re going to be tied to that ride,” he said.

Members of the Chicago Gig Alliance want the City Council to pass an ordinance requiring passengers to verify their identity.

“You can’t control the crime that happens outside of the vehicle,” said Chicago Gig Alliance organizer Lori Simmons. “What we want is for the companies to protect us from our own customers.”

Their concerns are real — especially after the Chicago Police Department issued a new community alert about a series of carjackings involving Uber drivers. The car pods take place on parts of both the north, south and west sides – as well as several western suburbs.

Police said a crew is hijacking some drivers, then using those cars to commit other carjackings and robberies.

“We’re asking the city to step up and force Uber and Lyft to make some changes to protect the moms and dads; the aunts and uncles of the city so they don’t have to do their jobs in fear,” Franklin said.

Just before At 5:30 p.m., across North Avenue, some protesters sat in the crosswalk at Besly Court while police stood on the scene warning them they could be arrested.

Officers began arresting the protesters soon after. They were handcuffed and taken to a police van.

It was not immediately known what, if anything, they were charged with or cited for.

We reached out to both Uber and Lyft for comment on the drivers’ complaints. We hadn’t heard back by late Tuesday night.

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