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Monday October 10, 2011, Occupy Chicago brought in unions, marching bands, and acrobats to come out en masse to occupy the streets of our city. Thousands of people arrived to lend support to the occupiers, including many children brought along by their parents, in what was a mixed-message general amalgamation of protests.

We get it, you don’t like stuff, but what do you want to do about it, protesters? Stand in the streets and shout “this is what democracy looks like?” (More like, “This is what mob rule looks like,” by the way.)

They started out in many locations, eventually converging on the Art Institute side entrance. There was a lengthy program laid out, people were told to sit in the street, and chant under the general theme of these being their streets. Acrobats did stunts, 12-foot tall effigies of corporate welfare kings were in attendance, and a troupe dressed like Robin Hood made a silent showing.  There was no one message, but of the many that were out there, I gathered that people wanted their houses and jobs back, as well as wanting to make bankers pay. They don’t seem to know, or were willfully ignoring, the fact that it is the regulations from the U.S. government that makes the banks do the things they have done, not the banks taking it upon themselves.

After this moment of fist-raised silence and a repeated chant “whose streets, our streets” I at last discovered the real purpose of why they were here: it was to taunt investment bankers who were having a cocktail reception on the roof. There were many shouts of “shame” and shaking fists, all while the marshals of this outing were trying to move protesters out of the way so that union members could sit in the street in order to get arrested.

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It was a most civil act of civil disobedience; after nearly a thousand people sat in the street watching the skits and listening to mundane speakers, 17 union members were politely arrested, without handcuffs, or even any jail time. When this task was finally accomplished (the process took nearly an hour), the majority of the crowd dispersed, having  met their goals of blocking traffic, “getting arrested” and shouting “shame” at some people on the roof of the Chicago Art Institute. (The recipients of these epithets seemed less than bothered, with quite a few happily snapping pictures while enjoying their wine and watching the crowd.)

The union members, many of which held signs to “give their jobs back,”–and a handful who had admitted they were paid to be there–dispersed into waiting school buses. They were not interested in sticking around for the Occupy general assembly meeting that was about to begin. Perhaps their show of solidarity stops when the buses leave?

Cross Posted at: HMStarsnStripes

2 Responses

  1. R Black

    I was there. This description is ‘spot on’. I did chat with a girl at about 645PM at the Jackson/LaSalle ‘occupy’ location, off camera. This had to be about the time things at Monroe/Mich were well into breaking up and I assume some headed south to hear more mundane meaningless speeches near Congress Plaza. This girl was very nice, but as I talked with her she seemed politically niave. In general I don’t think these people completely understand the concept of cause and effect and just as you wrote they falsely attribute capitalism as the root of what they see as problems.

  2. Henry Parsons

    You are so right about government regulations – they forced the banks to dabble in high-risk mortgage-backed securities which caused the financial meltdown. Without those goddamn government regulations, the banks never would have made those risky bets.


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