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Activists Descend On Palmer House To Protest Upcoming ALEC Conference

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 6, 2013 7:20PM

Photo Credit: Aaron Cynic

Six demonstrators were arrested at the Hilton Palmer House hotel in the Loop for staging a sit-in Monday evening. Dozens of activists held a demonstration in the lobby to protest the upcoming American Legislative Exchange Council conference this week. Calling themselves the Chicago Moral Monday Coalition, demonstrators dropped several banners off the second floor balcony while Rev. Marilyn Pagan Banks, Senior Pastor of Namaste United Church of Christ, spoke:

“The American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, is one of the great nexi where money and politics meet in order to corrupt our democracy. ALEC brings together corporate lobbyists and state legislators in order to create legislation that promotes big business and the 1% while working to disenfranchise ordinary people.”

The Chicago Moral Monday coalition takes its name after the “Moral Monday” protests in North Carolina, a series of rallies that activists have held in the state for nearly three months to protest varying forms of legislation. More than 900 people have been arrested since those protests began. Reverend Pagan Banks said the policies the North Carolina activists have been protesting are the same ones ALEC helped to author.

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Dubbed the “corporate bill mill” by its detractors, ALEC creates “model legislation,” which has included laws like the Florida Stand Your Ground law, Right to Work legislation, Voter ID bills and more. Sabrina Morey, a volunteer with Communities Against Foreclosure and Eviction, said she joined the demonstrators because of ALEC’s interest in pushing legislation that makes it easier for banks to evict people from their homes. “We can expect them (ALEC) to make more unjust laws to evict people from their homes. What I’m asking them today is to stop helping these big banks evict people from their homes,” said Morey.

Photo Credit: Aaron Cynic

Asha Ransby-Sporn said she went to the Palmer House to protest the conference to create awareness of what ALEC does as an organization. “Not a lot of people know what ALEC is, said Ransby-Sporn. “People know what the NRA is, people know about mass incarceration, people know about the gun violence in Chicago. People know about Trayvon Martin and the Stand Your Ground law. What people don’t know is that ALEC is a place where the NRA comes, where politicians come together...that the largest private prison company in the country and the world funds...and the write laws like Stand Your Ground. All of that comes together and people are making money off of it and getting political power out of all of this.”

The demonstration at the Palmer House is just one of several events protesters have planned for the ALEC conference. Marches sponsored by the Moral Monday Coalition and several other groups including the AFL-CIO will take place on Wednesday and Thursday near the Palmer House.

Independent journalist Mike Gordan also contributed to this report.