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Occupy Chicago Protests, Compared to Others, Relatively Peaceful

By aaroncynic in News on Nov 18, 2011 3:15PM

More than a thousand people took to the streets last night in Chicago to participate in a nationwide day of action in solidarity with Occupy movements around the world. Demonstrations began in the afternoon at the Thompson Center, after which activists marched to the LaSalle Street bridge and staged a sit in. Some chose to stay and were cited by police for civil disobedience.

After the sit in, activists marched south on LaSalle back to Occupy Chicago's roving headquarters in front of the Federal Reserve Building. At 5:30 p.m., with at least a thousand strong blocking traffic at the corner of Jackson and LaSalle, several dozen activists staged a "die-in," lying in the middle of the street while others used the “people's mic” to read a prepared eulogy.

“We gather here today to mourn the death of poor and working people, of the middle class, of the 99%. Everyday people cut from their services, denied their power, subdued from their democracy...Their struggle is our struggle...It's time we stand with these deceased, with each other, together,” chanted the crowd.

After the die-in, demonstrators briefly formed a human chain around the Board of Trade building. From there, the crowd marched again for quite some time through the Loop, snaking slowly towards their usual general assembly spot at Congress Park and Michigan Avenue.

As the march neared the designated rally point, however, Chicago Police had completely barricaded the area. Protesters were puzzled as to why the police would do this, since no one had planned to stay in the park past the 11 p.m. curfew and set up a permanent base of operations. After some confusion, the march headed north on Michigan back to the Thompson Center for a final rally and general assembly.

In stark contrast with demonstrations in New York and Oakland, where police violently assaulted demonstrators and made hundreds of arrests, Chicago's demonstrations have been completely peaceful. Both protesters and Chicago Police managed to maintain a civil and respectful relationship: even when police barricaded the usual general assembly meeting point. While Chicago stood in solidarity with occupations that have been forcibly removed and attacked by police, the actions planned still managed to stay focused on the overall message, rather than turn confrontational.

The Occupy movement across the nation and world have shown constant growth and dedication in its two-months. Achievement of goals like pulling money out of politics or ending corporate welfare may still be a pipe dream, but Occupy movements have managed to completely shift the national political conversation towards one about economic rights and justice.

Even if activists in New York can't camp in Zuccotti Park or Occupy Chicago be able to take the Spearman statue in Grant Park over the winter, the occupations aren't planning on leaving the public eye anytime soon.