'Occupy' protests continue at City Hall

October 26, 2011 3:12:34 PM PDT
Hundreds turned out in two protests in Chicago Wednesday. The groups once again rallied behind a range of issues, including jobs, Wall Street and the ability to demonstrate without facing arrest.

Members of Occupy Chicago and Stand Up! Chicago took part in the protests.

Members of Occupy Chicago took their demands to City Hall, asking for a place to hold future rallies without the fear of being arrested.

For the third day in a row, Occupy Chicago protesters marched to the mayor's office, demanding their right to protest 24 hours a day. Shortly before that, busloads of people from another group marched through the Loop during the lunch hour to protest what they call corporate greed.

It was tour of the banks for hundreds of protesters. First, a loop through the Chase Building, past the Bank of America, down LaSalle Street to their final destination, the Board of Trade. A coalition of community and labor groups called Stand Up! Chicago marched against what they say are too many corporate tax breaks.

"It all boils down to corporate welfare and welfare to big banks, and how that many shouldn't be going to them. It's our money," said Stand Up! Chicago's Catherine Murrell.

While Stand Up! Chicago formed months before Occupy Chicago, both groups say they share the same goals, which some observers don't understand.

Many accuse the movement of lacking a cohesive message.

"I understand they are trying to get a point across, I get that, but they understand what their point is. They are all over the place," said Board of Trade clerk Christopher Mateer.

"It will be mixed because we are a mixed country...it takes time for it to get cohesive," said protester Matt Peterson.

The lunchtime protest attracted a lot of attention from picture-taking workers, including traders.

"They are an amusement. They are minor amusement. Everybody looks and shakes their head. Occupy what? Look at them. Ridiculous," said Frank Maritote, who works at the Board of Trade.

"I think they should go out and get a job, make something of themselves rather than protest what other people have done," said Darren Wutzke.

Try telling that to protester and veteran Gregory McLaughlin. He has been out of work since coming home from Afghanistan two years ago.

"We can't just go up in the human resources, 'I want a job, hire me.' All we can do is go to the interview and hope they hire," McLaughlin said.

While Stand Up! Chicago went home, Occupy Chicago marched to City Hall's 5th floor to demand a place for protesters to occupy 24/7 without getting arrested. After several minutes, a person from the mayor's press office came out to accept petitions from the group.

Occupy Chicago also wants the city to drop charges against the protesters who violated a city ordinance by refusing to leave Grant Park after 11 p.m.

Protesters also made a new demand Wednesday: They want to make sure they are within sight and sound of the G8 and NATO summits next May.

The mayor's office says it looks forward to setting up a meeting with Occupy Chicago.


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