Occupy Chicago kicks off 'Chicago Spring' with rallies

April 7, 2012 8:57:09 PM PDT
A march and rally across the city were the focus of what organizers called the kickoff of "Chicago Spring."

Occupy Chicago called Saturday a citywide day of action. Groups all across the city rallied in 13 neighborhoods. Some events were in Chicago's suburbs, as well. Those gathered talked about a number issues, like foreclosures, residents' visions for their communities and genocide.

"I want Medicare, Social Security. I want housing to be taken care of. I want the upper 1 percent to pay fair taxes," said protestor Barb Hogman.

In Hyde Park as a part of Occupy the South Side, the impacts of genocide both globally and locally were discussed while the South Austin Coalition helped tenants of a West Side apartment building protest what they called an unfair bank foreclosure.

Afterwards, hundreds converged in the Loop and walked to Butler Field in Grant Park for a festival they said will help unify in the battles of the "99 percent."

"It's important to let the 1 percent know we have gone nowhere and gotten stronger (since) the winter," said Mike Ehenreich of Occupy Chicago.

Non-violent resistance training was also a part of the day's series of events organized by "Occupy Chicago" that lead up to planned demonstrations during the NATO summit in May.

"You know, the protesters really want the focus to be on the critique of NATO," said Mary Zerkel of the American Friends Service Committee. "It's important to get everybody settled and ready to be nonviolent during the summit."

Not everyone agrees with the message.

Jeremy Segal runs a website critical of the Occupy movement, which he said is being organized by fringe elements.

"It's a workers revolution," Segal said. "And it is being staged by Marxists-Leninists, many other far left-leaning organizations."

Occupy organizers say as many as 1,000 people attended Saturday's events, and they expect those crowds only to get bigger as we approach the NATO meetings in May.

"What brings people here is we believe that America is a democracy," said protester Calvin Ho. "It means that the people rule themselves. I think when people come and voice their grievances, come up with solutions with how to improve this country, that's where true democracy occurs."