Activists Erect Shantytown In Federal Plaza To Protest Budget Cuts

By aaroncynic in News on Dec 7, 2012 5:40PM

Activists erected a shantytown they call "Durbinville" in Federal Plaza on Thursday to pressure Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) into backing away from making a deal with Republicans on the “Fiscal Cliff” that protesters say would result in budget cuts to necessary human services. The groups, including IIRON, SOUL, Stand Up Chicago, Occupy Chicago and others want Durbin to publicly guarantee to protect social service and other economic saftey net programs. In November, 20 demonstrators were arrested inside the Kluczynski Federal Building after staging a sit-in to demand a meeting with the Senator over the same issues, which he refused.

Throughout the week, activists from the same groups have held soup and bread lines in the plaza at noon to highlight what they say could be the effects of cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and other human services to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” Four protesters were arrested inside the Federal Building yesterday after attempting to set up a shantytown inside the lobby. Connie Gates-Brown, a demonstrator who lost her job this year as did her husband told WBEZ, “With all these cuts that are being made, just like in the 30’s and 40’s we are going to end up back in soup and bread lines.”

Demonstrators said the fiscal cliff talks could be an opportunity for Durbin to take a meaningful stand in Washington for the people. Rev. Marilyn Pagan Banks, president of the Illinois-Indiana Regional Organizing Network told CBS News “We’re saying, look, this is an opportunity for you to be a champion. Take a risk, be courageous. We’ll stand behind you, but you have to use your role - your position as the majority whip - to make these things happen and he’s not willing to sort of take that stand.̶