The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

ALEC Conference Protesters In Chicago Shut Down Street

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 9, 2013 7:40PM

“I’ve got carpenter’s here. I’ve got nurses here. I’ve got the ATU here. I’ve got everyday Americans, operating engineers, I’ve got everybody,” said Bob Reiter of the Chicago Federation of Labor to a cheering crowd yesterday in front of the Palmer House hotel. Hundreds of demonstrators from dozens of unions, community organizations and other groups surrounded the hotel yesterday in a third day of protests over the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 40th annual conference happening inside the hotel. “There’s a reason why every single one of you is here. It’s because of groups like ALEC who are pushing an agenda to hurt every day Americans,” Reiter said.

According to a report released by the Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC dreamed up 466 bills in the 2013 legislative session. Those pieces of “model legislation” include bills which promote privatization of public services, limit the rights of workers to organize, voter ID and “stand your ground” type laws, gut environmental regulations and more. Of those, 84 became law in several states. The report also stated ALEC’s specific agenda at the Chicago conference included education sessions for lawmakers on how fracking can increase profits via exporting natural gas, corporate tax write offs for school privatization, laws which could delay benefits to temp workers and renewing the group’s objection to linking the minimum wage to the consumer price index.

Protesters began to arrive and picket the hotel around 11 a.m. and by 12:30 p.m. had shut down Monroe Street. “They are the people working in every state to bankrupt pensions, to bust unions, to pass stand your ground laws,” said Susan Hurley, executive director of Chicago Jobs With Justice. “They think we don’t know who we are or what they’re doing, but we do know,” she continued.

Shortly after the rally on Monroe Street concluded, police made a series of arrests after pushing the remainder of the demonstrators onto the sidewalk. Seven demonstrators were taken into custody and brought to Area 1 headquarters at 18th and State Streets and were released late last night. Meanwhile, a group called the Northern Illinois Light Brigade held a roving vigile through the loop, displaying electronic signs reading “Fight to end ALEC” in front of the hotel, on "L" platforms and at other locations.