Occupy Chicago – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop http://www.newstips.org Chicago Community Stories Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:45:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.14 Two actions target Fannie Mae http://www.newstips.org/2012/09/two-actions-target-fannie-mae/ Tue, 04 Sep 2012 22:13:00 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6595 Four years after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were put under federal conservatorship, actions tomorrow and next Monday are targeting the agencies for blocking principal reduction in mortgage refinances.

On Wednesday, September 5, Occupy Chicago will rally at 5 p.m. at Fannie Mae’s office at 1 S. Wacker, where families facing eviction will speak out, and then march to President Obama’s campaign headquarters, 130 E. Randolph, where protestors will be chained together with balls representing mortgage debt.

It’s part of three days of actions targeting “Obama’s failures as president” and “how both Obama and Romney fail to represent the interests of the 99 Percent,” according to a Facebook announcement.

On Monday, September 10, local community groups joined by Occupy Our Homes groups from Minneapolis and Detroit will march from Daley Plaza at noon and rally in front of Fannie Mae (1 S. Wacker) at 1 p.m. and Freddie Mac (333 W. Wacker) at 2.

That protest is part of a national day of action against Fannie and Freddie by community groups working to stop foreclosures in several cities, said Stuart Schussler of Centro Autonomo of Albany ParkChicago Anti-Eviction Campaign is also participating.

Centro Autonomo protests at bank branches to support families in foreclosure who are seeking loan modifications. Principal reduction is a vital component of affordable loan mods, Schussler said.

“Sometimes we get a favorable response from the bank” that’s servicing the mortgage, but but if Fannie or Freddie holds the morgage – as they do in a large proportion of cases – “they’ll say it’s out of our hands,” he said.

Housing groups have been calling on Obama to replace Federal Home Financing Agency interim director Edward DeMarco, who has refused to allow Fannie or Freddie to do principal reduction – even after the Treasury Department belatedly embraced the idea.

“In the bigger picture we need some really profound changes in order to make good on housing as a human right, but in the short and medium term, DeMarco and the FHFA are in the way of getting help for a lot of people who are in trouble,” Schussler said.

The center does “community building” through popular education, health programs, and workers cooperatives, Schussler said.

Occupy groups have protested at the Republican and Democratic conventions, seeking to divert attention from the “horserace” to “the issues that matter to people,” said David Orlikoff of Occupy Chicago.

He points out that while the FBI estimates that financial institutions committed fraud in a large proportion of subprime loans, financial fraud prosecutions have dropped steadily under the Obama administration and are now at a 20-year low.

Chicago Spring http://www.newstips.org/2012/04/chicago-spring/ http://www.newstips.org/2012/04/chicago-spring/#comments Tue, 01 May 2012 01:47:48 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6092 A May Day march and rally by Occupy Chicago on Tuesday launches the final weeks of the Chicago Spring, culminating with protests at the NATO summit later this month.

With the theme of immigrant, labor, and youth solidarity, an array of community groups and unions will rally at noon (Tuesday, May 1) at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph, and march to the Federal Plaza, Adams and Dearborn.

Though it continues a recent Chicago tradition of immigrant rights marches on May Day going back to 2006, it was initiated by Occupy Chicago, and in particular the group’s labor committee, said Orlando Sepulvida of Occupy the Barrio.  Strong union involvement in the march is the result of interest on the part of rank-and-file union members participating in Occupy, he said.

“After six years, [the issue of immigration reform] is not resolved, and in some ways it is worse now for undocumented families,” said Sepulvida, who has been involved in the marches going back to 2006.

Questions about whether Occupy Chicago would last out its first winter were answered when an estimated 1,000 people participated in an April 7 “Freedom Festival” in Grant Park, with teach-ins on topics including non-violent direct action, the “black bloc,” NATO, and “Mayor 1 Percent’s Budget of Austerity.”

Moving to indoor quarters allowed the group to hold a steady series of educational events and strengthen a network of working committees, according to Mark Cassello at Indignant Left.  Chicago Spring and the NATO protest are making Chicago “the national hub of the Occupy movement this spring,” Costello writes.

Peoples Summit

A People’s Summit on May 12 and 13, at Occupy Chicago’s space at 500 W. Cermak, will kick off a week of actions leading up to the May 20 NATO summit protest.

Co-sponsored by Occupy Chicago and the Coalition Against NATO/G8, the summit will feature dozens of workshops and talks by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (a frequent visitor to Afghanistan), Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, and Reiner Braun of No To NATO.

The keynoter will be Malalai Joya, a former member of the Afghan Parliament and women’s rights crusader.  In her early 20s, under Taliban rule, she set up a secret school for girls.  Elected to Parliament in 2005, she was expelled in 2007 after denouncing the presence of warlords and war criminals in the body, and causing a near-riot.  She has survived several assassination attempts.

“For ten years U.S. policymakers have misused the plight of Afghan women as an excuse to advance the war in Afghanistan,” Joya has said.  “Your governments have replaced the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban with another fundamentalist regime of warlords.  That is what your soldiers are dying for.”

Week of action

The week of action demonstrates Occupy Chicago’s capacity for connecting with organizing efforts in local communities.

On Monday, May 14, Occupy Chicago plans an action at a South Side school highlighting disinvestment in neighborhood schools, according to Brian Bean of the group’s summit working group; a May 15 an action with the theme “No human being is illegal” will draw connections between border walls impacting Mexican-Americans and Palestinians (who commemorate the date as Nakba Day), he said.

On Wednesday, May 16, Occupy Chicago and anti-eviction groups will march on Sheriff Tom Dart, calling on him to reinstate a moratorium on foreclosures; on Thursday, May 17, an environmental action will target NATO member Canada, which is promoting tar sands oil, which environmentalists call “the world’s dirtiest oil.”  And Saturday the 19th, an action highlighting the closing of mental health clinics is planned, Bean said.

On Friday, May 18, National Nurses United and other groups will rally at Daley Plaza at 12:15 p.m., focusing on the union’s call for a financial transaction tax that could raise $350 billion a year as an alternative to austerity policies.

Counter-summit for peace

On Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19,  a Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice will be held by the American Friends Service Committee and the Network for a NATO-Free Future at the People’s Church, 941 W. Lawrence.  It will feature experts and activists from around the world, including author Tom Hayden (of Chicago 7 fame), Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, Sarita Gupta of Jobs With Justice, and Saraia Saher of Afghans for Peace.

“NATO’s new role as a global military alliance” – and U.S. and NATO plans to maintain troops in Afghanistan for another decade — will be examined, along with “campaigns to bring the troops home and to create a future free of wars, occupation and the costs of a militarized foreign policy.”

Sunday, May 20 is the big march starting at noon from Grant Park to McCormick Place, where the NATO summit will be getting started.  It will be led off by a contingent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, who will call out NATO generals for a ceremony returning their Global War on Terror medals.

Endless war

“What is the strategy? No one can articulate it,” says  Aaron Hughes of Iraq Veterans Against the War, pointing out that the new U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership agreement will allow thousands of U.S. and NATO troops to remain (and continue controversial night raids) after official withdrawal of combat troops. “How many more people are going to have to suffer in this endless war?”  IVAW is calling for immediate withdrawal.

Speakers at the Grant Park rally will include Rev. Jesse Jackson, Malalai Joya, Kathy Kelly and others, according to Eric Rudder of CANG8.

And that’s not all.  With the NATO summit concluding May 21, Occupy Chicago is planning an action day for democracy for Monday that will target Boeing Corporation on three issues, according to Bean: it’s record of tax avoidance, its role as supplier of weapons for NATO adventures, and its lead in the NATO host committee.

“They’ve raised $55 million to wine and dine these warmongers, while we’re closing clinics to save $3 million,” Bean said.  “It’s obscene.”

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King Day: Occupy the Fed, foreclosures, schools http://www.newstips.org/2012/01/king-day-occupy-the-fed-foreclosures-schools/ Sat, 14 Jan 2012 01:29:58 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=5448 The civil rights movement, the Occupy movement, and community organizations will come together for a series of events marking Martin Luther King’s birthday this week, including a demonstration Monday at the Federal Reserve led by African American clergy including Rev. Jesse Jackson.

At the time of his assassination, King was organizing an “occupation” of Washington D.C., and after his death thousands of people occupied Resurrection City there from May 12 to June 24, 1968, demanding jobs, housing and an economic bill of rights.

In other King Day activities, housing rights groups are stepping up the drive to occupy foreclosures, and teachers and community groups are demonstrating against school “turnarounds.”

Over a thousand community activists are expected for an Occupy the Dream event (Sunday, January 15 at 3 p.m. at People’s Church, 941 W. Lawrence), where elected officials will be called on to support jobs and tax reform, including closing corporate tax loopholes and instituting a financial transaction tax.

It’s sponsored by IIRON, a regional organizing network that includes Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, Northside POWER, and the Northwest Indiana Federation. Occupy Chicago has endorsed the event.

“We are organizing in the tradition of the civil rights movement,” said Rev. Dwight Gardner of Gary, president of the Northwest Indiana Federation.

“In Dr. King’s very last sermon, he warned us not to sleep through a time of great change like Rip Van Winkle,” he said. “This is a moment of great change and we must put our souls in motion to occupy his dream.”

At the Fed: National Day of Action

Monday’s action at the Federal Reserve (Jackson and LaSalle, January 16, 3 p.m.) is part of a national day of action to “Occupy the Fed” by the Occupy the Dream campaign, with African American church leaders moblizing multicultural, interfaith rallies in 13 cities.  They’ll be emphasizing racially discriminatory practices by banks which have resulted in high foreclosure rates, as well as the issue of student debt.

“There needs to be economic equality, there needs to be jobs for all, there needs to be opportunities for the next generation,” said Rev. Jamal Bryant of Occupy the Dream.

“It’s consistent with the Poor People’s Campaign of holding people accountable who have benefited from the labor of working people and used their influence to create inequality,” said Rev. Otis Moss III of Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago coordinator of the effort.

On Tuesday, Northside POWER and other groups will visit Bank of America (135 S. LaSalle) at 3:30 p.m. to demand help for a North Side family facing foreclosure; the bank has refused mediation for the family, which has applied for the Hardest Hit foreclosure relief program, said Kristi Sanford.

They’ll also visit Attorney General Lisa Madigan, demanding she withdraw from the proposed settlement of the robosigning fraud case by state attorney generals and the U.S. Department of Justice.  The settlement would fine banks “a pittance” and absolve them of all liability, Sanford said.  Attorney generals in New York and California have withdrawn.

Sanford said an effort to occupy a foreclosed home and launch an eviction resistance campaign is also underway.

Working the grassroots against eviction

Meanwhile, groups organizing against foreclosure and eviction have come together in the national network Occupy Our Homes, and they’ll go door-to-door Sunday and Monday, reaching out to families facing foreclosure and their neighbors.

Training sessions for canvassers will be held on Sunday, January 15 at 10 a.m. in Albany Park (at Centro Autonomo, 3630 W. Lawrence) and Monday at 10 a.m. on the South Side (Sankofa Center, 1401 E. 75th) and the West Side (a foreclosed property at 2655 W. Melvina and the Third Unitarian Church, 311 N. Mayfield), and volunteers will canvass those areas from 11 to 3 on the respective days.

Homeowners will be connected with legal resources and encouraged to consider staying in their homes after foreclosure, said Loren Taylor of Occupy Our Homes.

The foreclosure process is unfairly stacked toward lenders, banks have engaged in “massive, massive fraud,” and the banks which refuse to help homeowners have received government bailouts in the trillions of dollars, Taylor said.

Participating groups include the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, and the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, which has worked with renters in foreclosed buildings.

School marches mark King’s Chicago legacy

Also Monday, demonstrations against educational inequality – and against school “turnarounds” – will take place in areas made famous by Martin Luther King’s 1966 Chicago campaign.

At 10:30 a.m., the Chicago Teachers Union and community allies will march for education justice and “quality schools for all” at Marquette Elementary, 6550 S. Richmond, just south of the park where King was hit by a brick while marching for fair housing in 1966.

Today the school is 99 percent black and Latino – and slated for a “turnaround” by Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL). CTU argues that all schools should have small class sizes, a well-rounded curriculum, and supportive services.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Blocks Together and other supporters of Casals Elementary, 3501 W. Potomac, will go door-to-door to inform neighbors of parent efforts to stop the transfer of that school to AUSL.

And at 1 p.m. on Monday, North Lawndale residents including members of Action Now will hold a press conference and march from Dvorak Elementary, 3615 W. 16th, past the site where King lived in Lawndale in 1966, to Herzl Elementary, 3711 W. Douglas.  They’re opposing Herzl’s “turnaround” by AUSL – and they fear Dvorak is next, said Aileen Kelleher of Action Now.

Parents maintain that CPS neglects neighborhood schools serving low-income minority children, setting them up for failure so they can be turned over to AUSL or charter schools, Kelleher said

Protest permits issued under existing ordinance http://www.newstips.org/2012/01/protest-permits-issued-under-existing-ordinance/ Thu, 12 Jan 2012 23:30:19 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=5442 The city is granting permits for protests at the upcoming NATO/G8 summits under the existing parade ordinance, making it hard to follow Mayor Emanuel’s argument that a new ordinance is needed in time for the summits.

Last month Emanuel introduced revisions to the parade ordinance – adding an array of bureacratic requirements for protest organizers — as part of a package of changes to the municipal code he said was “appropriate for a unique event.” He later said he “made a mistake” saying the changes would be temporary.

The City Council is set to begin considering the proposals next week.

But on Thursday the city approved the application for a parade route from the Coalition Against NATO and G8 for a march from Daley plaza to a rally at 23rd and Indiana, near the summit site at McCormick Place (with the proviso that the Secret Service could override the approval).

‘Current ordinance adequate’

“The issuance of this permit shows that the current ordinances, while not perfect, are more than adequate for large public events in our city, and that the Mayor should rescind his proposed anti-protester ordinances,” said Andy Thayer of CANG8.

The proposed ordinance adds requirements that protest organizers list all sound equipment, signs, banners and other “attention-getting devices,” and all contingents planning to participate — things Thayer says no protest organizer could possibly predict.

It could just mean more paperwork – or it could provide additional grounds to harrass organizers (and the top fine for violating the ordinance is doubled to $2,000).

Thayer says that’s quite common. He’s been charged with petty violations of the parade ordinance many times. And last month the city dropped charges of parade ordinance violations against the person who applied for a permit for an October protest against the war in Afghanistan.

Pat Hunt was charged with two violations of the ordinance when a banner was taped to a statue and police decided a hand-pushed cart with sound equipment was a vehicle.

No clear reason

“I don’t see a clear reason why the city needs to enact these changes,” said Ben Meyer of the National Lawyers Guild, who has represented protestors. “I don’t see how it helps the police or the city do their jobs. It won’t help the police direct traffic or maintain public safety.”

Instead, he says, “the city is trying to make it more difficult for people to engage in First Amendment activities by making it more onerous for people to get permits.”

CANG8 also criticized the city’s “escape hatch” giving veto power to the Secret Service.

“The feds have had at least six months to study the security issues surrounding the summits,” said Thayer. “In the event that they attempt to make large sections of the city inaccessible, we demand that the city insist that the protests proceed unimpeded and unmolested.”

Proximity to the summit site is “a very important issue because these people are trying to convey a message to the delegates,” Meyer said. “They’re trying to tell the delegates they disagree with their policies, and if the intended audience can’t hear the message, the message isn’t being conveyed.”

Thayer’s analysis of the new parade ordinance, with copies of the old and new ordinances, is at Chicago Indymedia.

Occupy Chicago has announced Operation Roll Call, a citywide effort to “demand that your aldermen defend your rights.” Occupy the Northwest Side has met with aldermen on the issue.

Occupy Rogers Park and Occupy the South Side issued a letter to aldermen pointing out that, far beyond the NATO/G8 protest, the new restrictions apply citywide –and could impact the ability of communities of color to protest cuts in city jobs and services which affect them disproportionately, Chicago Muckraker reports.

Seniors plan civil disobedience to protest Social Security cuts http://www.newstips.org/2011/11/seniors-plan-civil-disobedience-to-protest-social-security-cuts/ Sun, 06 Nov 2011 22:15:16 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=4897 Joined by hundreds of supporters from community and advocacy groups – and from Occupy Chicago – dozens of seniors will block traffic Monday morning to protest proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Following a rally and march starting at Dearborn and Adams at 10:15 a.m. on Monday, November 7, they’ll blockade the intersection of Jackson and Clark outside the Federal Plaza at 11:30 a.m..

The groups will meet later with Senator Durbin and members of the local congressional delegation “to demand a federal budget that strengthens the social safety net for low-income families” and that leaders “solve the revenue crisis by raising taxes on millionaires and closing loopholes for banks and big corporations,” according to a release.

According to reports, both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate “Supercommittee” considering a deficit reduction deal have proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Both party’s proposals include cutting cost-of-living increases for Social Security, though costs for seniors are known to rise at a higher rate than for others.  (See the Strengthen Social Security coalition’s materials on the supercommittee and on Social Security’s COLA.)

‘Very, very angry’

“I am saddened and very, very angry at the prospect of elected officials even considering cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or HUD programs,” writes Ruth Long, 85, of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, in a statement.

She notes that as a young black woman in the South in the 1940s, the only job open to her was as a domestic – which was not covered by Social Security.  Her employer at a bakery in Chicago didn’t report her earnings to Social Security, and when she was forced to stop working due to health issues, Medicaid and SSI “rescued” her.

“How can legislators look at themselves and their families in the face while considering this evil deed?”  she asks.  “I am one among many senior citizens standing on the brink of despair, because we feel abandoned by the very people we worked hard in our communities to put in their respective political offices.”

A warning to Democrats

Serving on President Obama’s deficit commission last year, Durbin reversed his previous opposition to raising the age to qualify for Social Security.  As part of a senatorial “Gang of Six” earlier this year he endorsed reducing Social Security benefits and heavy cuts in Medicaid and Medicare.

And while he promised to oppose  Social Security cuts during his campaign, this summer President Obama backed raising the retirement age, reducing benefits, and cutting Medicaid and Medicare as part of a deficit reduction deal.

The Campaign for America’s Future warns Democratic politicians that they “are courting political disaster.”

“At a time when American’s are demonstrating in cities and towns across the country against growing inequality and the economic damage done by an out of control banking system, leaks from the Super Committee reveal that representatives of both parties are proposing immediate and irresponsible cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid,” according to a statement from CAF.

“The undemocratic Super Committee should be focusing how we repair the massive unemployment imposed on the 99 percent of Americans by economic policies designed to favor the top 1 percent of Americans. They should not be sending the bill for this economic devastation to the millions of American who depend — or will depend — on the crucial health care [and] Social Security systems.”

Occupy Austin, Occupy Bronzeville http://www.newstips.org/2011/10/occupy-austin-occupy-bronzeville/ Fri, 28 Oct 2011 21:51:06 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=4873 Occupy Austin and Occupy Bronzeville, joined by people from Occupy Chicago, will begin a new drive to occupy foreclosures at actions on the West and South Sides tomorrow.

They’ll rally with tenants of a foreclosed building who are resisting what they say are illegal attempts to evict them from a 12-unit rental building, just two weeks after foreclosure.

Federal law requires tenants be given at least 90 days to move.  (See the recent Newstips post, Foreclosure and tenants: Banks break the law.)

“We’re saying these folks will not be moved,” said Elce Redmond of South Austin Coalition.  He said Occupy Austin would continue “organizing people on a day-to-day basis against the big banks.”  Their goal is “nonviolent mass organization to fight the greed and corruption of the top 1 percent and restore democracy in America.”

Redmond said the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing is representing the tenants in a lawsuit.

The rally starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 29, at 5960 W. North.

From there the groups will head to a housing resource fair at IIT’s Herman Hall, 3241 S. Federal where they’ll talk with homeowners seeking mortgage modifications.

“We want to see how many homeowners get modifications,” said Willie J. R. Fleming of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, a core group in Occupy Bronzeville, which is part of a nationwide Occupy the Hood movement.

“There are a lot of resource fairs going on since the collapse of the financial system, but we still have millions of people losing their homes,” Fleming said. “We want to see if this is a real solution or just a dog and pony show.”

They’re laying plans to occupy foreclosed homes as well as blighted commercial spaces, which they want to turn into community centers, he said.  (This is a tactic that’s worked in Boston, Mark Konzcal writes at New Deal 2.0.)

Meanwhile Occupy Chicago is regrouping – and exploring options to lease indoor space — since the city turned down the group’s request for a permanent location on Thursday, spokesperson Sugar Russell said.

They could use a space for teach-ins and trainings, as well as a place to warm up, she said.

But she notes that their current location at LaSalle and Jackson – in front of Bank of America, across the street from the Federal Reserve – is not without its significance.

That’s especially true since last week, when anonymous regulators leaked to Bloomberg that the Fed was okaying BOFA’s shift of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary that’s insured by the FDIC – over the FDIC’s objections.

The FDIC’s deposit insurance fund finally turned positive in June, now amounting to just $3.9 billion.  A failure by troubled BOFA, which no one seems to be discounting, would require the FDIC to go to Congress for a bailout, possibly several times the size of TARP.

As Robert Reich argues, the situation shows the wisdom of the Glass-Steagall Act, which (until the year 2000) kept investment banks seperate from government-insured commercial banks – and underscores the need to break up “too big to fail” banks.

MSNBC senior editor James Carney calls it “outrageous” that BOFA is “obviously exploiting government backing for profit.”  Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil says it reinforces the popular impression that the Fed “puts big banks’ interests above those of ordinary taxpayers.”

More from Yves Smith, William K. Black, and most bleakly, Christopher Whalen.  Locally only ENews Park Forest seems to have noted the story.

And more attention is coming.  On Monday, National Peoples Action and the New Bottom Line Campaign will launch an online campaign to press BOFA to stop financing payday loans.

“Big banks like BOFA borrow money from the Fed at less than 1 percent interest, then lend that to payday lenders at 3 percent, who then turn around and lend money in our communities at 400 percent or more,” according to a note from NPA.

Elsewhere, the anti-corporate Adbusters magazine, which initiated the call to occupy Wall Street in September, is urging a global day of action Saturday in support of the “Robin Hood tax,” which is what they’ve dubbed the financial transaction tax.  That idea has gotten some attention in Chicago locally, with a modest proposal from Stand Up Chicago and the Chicago Political Economy Group (see previous post), but it’s a very live issue for the G20 Summit that convenes in Cannes on November 3.

There it’s backed by the governments of France and Germany as well as the European Union, which recently moved to adopt a continent-wide tax on speculation.  It’s being blocked by the Obama administration.

“Let’s send them a clear message: We want you to slow down some of that $1.3 trillion easy money that’s sloshing around the global casino each day — enough cash to fund every social program and environmental initiative in the world,” Adbusters writes.

“It’s obvious you have no idea how to get us out of this economic mess you put us in,” the magazine tells the elite. “So now we are telling you what we want: a radical transformation of casino capitalism.”

The tax would not only raise as much as $400 billion a year and offset the effects of the global crisis, which has thrown 60 million people into poverty worldwide, according to Oxfam America; it would target the spit-second computer-generated speculation that leaves the world’s economy so unstable.

Rally for ‘Jobs Not Cuts’ http://www.newstips.org/2011/10/rally-for-jobs-not-cuts/ Wed, 19 Oct 2011 21:17:08 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=4845 A new coalition challenging the federal government’s budget priorities will hold a town hall meeting with three members of Congress Thursday night, then adjourn to join Occupy Chicago outside the Bank of America at LaSalle and Jackson.

The town hall takes place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, October 20 at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington, with a press conference at 5:30 p.m.

Move The Money Chicago, which includes scores of community, peace, and labor groups, calls for a massive jobs program funded by taxing the rich and ending overseas wars.

U.S. Reps. Danny Davis, Jesse Jackson Jr., and Jan Schakowsky will speak at the meeting, along with local residents spelling out concerns – a public school teacher, a victim of foreclosure, an unemployed worker, and others, said Terry Davis of MTM Chicago.

Schakowsky will speak about her Emergency Jobs Act, which would create 2.2 million jobs, including hundreds of thousands of jobs in school maintenance and repair, park improvement, weatherization, along with funding for more teachers, police, health care and child care workers, and student jobs.  It would give priority to the long-term unemployed, who today face discrimination in their job searches.

It would be fully funded by Schakowsky’s Fairness In Taxation Act, which would raise the income tax rate on millionaires to 45 percent and on billionaires to 49 percent. That’s lower than the top rate under President Reagan, she points out.  Currently billionaires pay the same rate as anyone making over $373,000 a year.

A representative of Occupy Chicago will also speak at the town hall.

‘An amazing convergence’ http://www.newstips.org/2011/10/an-amazing-convergence/ Thu, 13 Oct 2011 22:34:42 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=4821 It’s been a remarkable week in Chicago, a nonstop whirl of protests targeting the financial industry and government collusion with corporations, and demanding action on jobs, housing, and schools.

Coming Friday:  a rally for “jobs not cuts,” with MoveOn, Stand Up Chicago, Chicago Jobs With Justice and Occupy Chicago joining forces, at noon at the Federal Plaza.

Occupy Chicago gets much credit for capturing the public’s imagination – and for their 24-7 commitment and important organizational innovations.  But it was community groups and unions that staged some of the most dramatic and creative actions here this week.

“It’s an amazing convergence,” said Adam Kader of Arise Chicago.

It was activists from National People’s Action who kayaked down the Chicago River, past the Mortgage Bankers Assocation meeting, dressed as Robin Hood, on Monday.

It was Rev. Patrick Daymond of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation and others who “embedded” themselves in an MBA session and took the floor there.  “We asked how they could sleep at night,” Dayden said, according to Progress Illinois.  “We asked how they can show their faces in Chicago knowing the devastation they have brought to our communities.”

On Tuesday, it was Action Now members who dumped garbage taken from a foreclosed, bank-owned inadequately-secured West Side home on the floor of Bank of America (five women aged 56 to 80 were arrested in the action).

Also Tuesday, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council members boarded up a vacant home owned by JPM Chase and brought a bill for the work to the bank’s downtown office; Albany Park Neighborhood Council members protested at the Chicago Association of Realtors.

Outside the MBA meeting, members of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs erected a sukkah, inviting MBA participants inside the ritual shelter (constructed for Sukkot, the holiday which marks the Israelite’s period of homeless wandering in the desert) to hear personal testimony from victims of the housing crisis.

Members of SOUL were arrested trying to enter the MBA conference.

On Wednesday, it was the Grassroots Collaborative which set up a giant Slushie – symbolizing the use of TIF as a corporate slush fund – and then held a “corporate welfare” trolley tour of downtown TIF subsidy recipients.

Also Wednesday, 100 teachers marched through the lobby of Bank of America, demanding the bank renegotiate “toxic rate swaps” they say are robbing Chicago schools of millions of dollars.

Thursday there was a series of protests at low-wage employers – and in the afternoon, Stand Up Chicago set up a casino outside the Chicago Board of Trade while demanding a financial transaction tax to pay for a Chicago Jobs Fund (discussed here last Saturday).

“It feels different,” said Kader, who’s been involved with Stand Up Chicago in planning the week’s actions – timed for two financial industry summits – for several months.  “In the past we would turn out our members,” but this time he’s been struck by the number of unaffiliated folks and passersby joining in.  “There’s something out there, and we just have to say here’s a time and place to come together.”

Media attention was notably greater than past protests – for example, see this Newstip on “anemic” local coverage of NPA’s 5,000-strong demostration at the American Bankers Association here in October 2009.

Only Mary Bottari of the Center for Media Democracy notes another convergence, tying the week’s protests to Mayor Emanuel’s efforts “to balance budget deficits on the back of public workers.”  (She also notes the recent revelation of Emanuel’s role as White House chief of staff in dissuading President Obama from his initial inclination to break up big banks, which progressives argue became dangerously oversized after the wall between commercial and investment banking was torn down in 2000.  Since then they’ve gotten bigger.)

What happens now?  Van Jones of Rebuild The Dream sees a period of “innovation and improvisation.”  He tells Alternet that Occupy Wall Street “is a huge, big deal; there will be other huge, big deals. There is a big thaw happening.  People have gone through a grieving process, and people want to fight.”

“The economic crisis [will get] worse,” says Jones, and “you’re going to have a lot of people suffering due to the economy.  That’s going to create a need for a response….That’s going to be a driver of innovation, the economic crisis.  People have to eat.  People have to live indoors.  People aren’t going to just lay down and die because Wall Street wants to hold up the economic recovery.”

His group has called for nationwide actions – leaving the details up to local groups – on November 17 on the theme of “jobs not cuts.”  Before that, according to Think Progress, a new group  has called for actions around the world to “demand true democracy” – on Saturday, October 15.  They report actions planned in over 800 cities in 71 countries.

And they’ve posted a short video highlighting the year in protests: Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Greece, Israel, New York.  Who knows what’s next?  And as Phil Rosenthal points out in the Tribune, “one can only imagine what will greet visiting leaders in Chicago for the G8 and NATO summits next May.”

Take Back Chicago shows what can happen when diligent, energetic organizing, rooted in communities, aligns with the zeitgeist.