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Occupy Chicago Springs Forth From Winter Hibernation

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 9, 2012 6:00PM

Occupy Chicago emerged fully from hibernation on Saturday with actions citywide, culminating in a march to Grant Park where workshops and teach-ins were held throughout the afternoon, finishing off with a “freedom feast” in the evening. More than 1,000 people hit the streets for the main actions, kicking off with a march from LaSalle and Jackson that winded through the loop and eventually sprawled onto Butler Field, where workshops on NATO, capitalism, non-violent direct action, and more were held, along with an open mic, yoga, and other activities.

The mood for what Occupy Chicago dubbed the “Chicago Spring” throughout the day was celebratory and jubilant. After a few months of low numbers at fewer actions, it was evident that the movement needed another spark to reignite the energy it carried during the fall. While the space Occupy Chicago rented in Pilsen provided a much needed space for organizing and a respite from the cold (even a mild winter makes outdoor organizing difficult), it wasn’t without its drawbacks. The diminished presence on the streets in the loop may have caused some to believe the movement fizzled, and outreach to the general public was certainly more difficult.

Occupy Chicago never really left during the winter, however. It merely shifted focus away from the loop. It branched out into neighborhoods, taking on local struggles and making alliances with various other community activist organizations in addition to planning for the eventual spring. they Supported parents at Piccolo Elementary in their struggle with CPS administration, the workers’ occupation of Serious Energy, and even helping maintain a 24-hour presence at a foreclosed home in Bronzeville highlight the meat of the movement’s core goals. One can get a different answer out of every person spoken to at a protest as to what the overall “goal” of the movement might be. The general theme however, can still be distilled into social and income inequality, and finding a way to truly empower people in a more direct democratic process. Issues like the foreclosure crisis, the debt crisis, and even the storm surrounding the upcoming NATO summit are all connected, and attempting to address one without the others is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Protester Calvin Ho told ABC7, “What brings people here is we believe that America is a democracy. 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.”