Chicago, IL - Angered by a police raid and arrests of Occupy protesters in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, 1500 protesters marched and rallied here May 19. The protest marched from the Federal Reserve Bank, the main protest site for Occupy Chicago, up to Daley Plaza. A roar went up when the march stepped off with hundreds of young people taking to the streets, chanting, “This is what democracy looks like!” and “No war for oil! NATO off Afghan soil!”
Protesters responded immediately to the police repression by mobilizing a large crowd in less than 24 hours. According to the National Lawyers Guild, police “disappeared” nine people for nearly a day – first in the Organized Crime Building and later a Chicago police station. Friends and family had no idea what was happening and Chicago police denied any knowledge. After two days, three people remained in jail facing serious terrorism charges, with bail set at $1.5 million.
Upon arriving at Daley Plaza, Zoe Sigman of Occupy Chicago thanked the crowd and then asked everyone to sit down in silence for ten minutes in solidarity with the nine people taken away by the police and the three charged with terrorism. When the solidarity silence ended, Zoe rose to speak from on top of a flower box and denounced the police raid. She described the busting down of the door of the apartment and the abuse of those living there. Sigman spoke about the need to stand against police repression and to continue to protest the war-makers of NATO in Chicago. She also called for people to not be fearful, but to mobilize even more people to come to Grant Park for the big anti-NATO protest against war and poverty on Sunday, May 20.
Stephanie Weiner with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression spoke next and denounced the 2010 FBI raids on 23 Midwest activists’ homes and the home of Carlos Montes a few months later. She said that solidarity with Zoe and the other activists abused and arrested can beat back this outrageous attack. Weiner said, “We are powerful, we can build a powerful movement to stop NATO and its wars, and we can beat back police and FBI repression if we stick together!”
Then a student from Utah and the Revolutionary Students Union spoke. Gregory Lucero was visited by the FBI at his home and they wanted to know about organizing a trip to protest NATO and war. Lucero said, “What do you say when the FBI or police come to your door?” The crowd shouted, “Nothing!” Then Lucero ended by saying it is important to speak out against FBI repression and war.
Finally, a speaker from Cleveland spoke about the recent arrest of three young homeless men who are part of the Occupy movement and how they were set up by the FBI. He asked for solidarity as they face serious charges in this latest FBI frame-up.
The march proceeded from Daley Plaza and eventually onto Michigan Avenue, with tourists and workers taking photographs and smiling as they went by. The streets of Chicago are alive with the sounds of protest, opposing repression at home and war abroad.