Occupy Chicago protesters arrested in Grant Park

October 16, 2011 8:56:04 PM PDT
Occupy Chicago protesters marched again Sunday night just hours after 175 demonstrators were arrested for attempting to spend the night in Grant Park.

Some protesters have been camped out for more than three weeks while others joined Occupy Chicago for the first time; but, organizers said there seemed to be more energy Sunday night.

"The crowd seems to be bigger, the horns are honking louder. We don't have any disgruntled passersby," said John Gallagher with Occupy Chicago.

The group marched Sunday from Lasalle down Jackson to Grant Park again for their nightly meeting. After Saturday night's march that marked a Global Day of Occupation, many protesters tried to stay overnight in the park, bringing sleeping bags and setting up tents. A permit is required for staying overnight in the park, and organizers admitted to not seeking a permit.

Chicago police say they repeatedly warned those occupying the area that Grant Park closes at 11 p.m. and that those remaining would be subject to arrest. Even then, it was closer to 1 a.m. when officers started going person to person, giving them the option to leave or get arrested.

"The officer asked me, you know, did I want to leave or did I want to be arrested. I said, 'Well, I don't want to be arrested, but I think I'm going to be,' and then I was," said protester David Orlikoff

"The CPD handled it professionally. We were given multiple warning of what was going to take place," said Andrew Smith, an arrested protester.

Supporters say the arrests of group members as they demonstrated marked a new phase of civil disobedience for the movement.

"The only thing that will change it is if there's a change in the mass consciousness of the American people and they realize -- I'm talking about which is basically the facts," said protester Mick Jackson.

Those arrested were held overnight but most were released Sunday morning. They will have a court date. Many were back Sunday night, however, joined by people like Molly Quirk, a recent college graduate still looking for her first job and making her first appearance at Occupy Chicago.

"I think that it's important to take a stand and do what you can -- not just through social media but to physically come out," Quirk said.

Occupy Chicago began its protest more than 20 days ago as a spinoff of the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City. The group started small outside the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank building.

"This is human rights. What better thing is there to fight for?" said arrested protester Nick Castleman.

"This is a righteous movement. I will be here every chance I get," said Iraq war veteran and protester Anthony Wagner.

Since it started, Occupy Chicago has grown to about 100 to 150 people attending the group's daily general assembly meetings.

"Enough of us are suffering, and we're here to take a stand," said protester Sharon Paschke

"We are going to make these things so big. They can't stop it. They can constrain it. And they can't oppress it," said protester Maria McKiever.

The protesters come from different ethnic and educational backgrounds, but most are in their 20s and 30s -- that's a sign of encouragement to more veteran organizers like Nancy Wade with MoveOn.org.

"We've been waiting for the young people to get as angry as we are. And as bad as what has happened, so can they succeed, can they all succeed? Yes, we can. We will," Wade said.

The Occupy Chicago movement has spread to other parts of Illinois. Demonstrations were held Saturday in Peoria and Springfield, where hundreds chanted and marched through downtown streets.


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