Chicago Protesters Speak out against Income Inequality and Unemployment

An estimated 3000 protesters, amongst whom were religious leaders, teachers, and union workers, held several marches down Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago Monday to speak out against unfair unemployment. The demonstration was coordinated by the “Stand Up Chicago” group, who openly stated their goal of reclaiming their jobs, homes, and schools, according to a statement on their official website. Members of the group and other smaller organizations came together outside of the Chicago Art Institute while a prominent futures industry trade group was inside enjoying a cocktail reception.

Another group of protesters marched in the street in front of a luxury hotel while the American Mortgage Bankers Association (AMBA) held a meeting inside. Later in the day five different marches taking place in downtown Chicago eventually converged into a single march on Michigan Avenue.

With U.S. personal finance in complete crisis, the “Stand Up Chicago” group is believed to have taken inspiration from the similar “Occupy Wall Street” movement started in New York one month ago, leading to smaller protests around the country.

Leaders of the group stated that the main purpose of these protests was to make the public aware of the actions of some of the key players in the financial industry and how they have led to an absolute fiscal disaster for families throughout Chicago. Amongst the chants cried out by the massive crowd were “we are the 99%” (implying that 99% of the citizens of Chicago are suffering personal finance troubles because of the actions of a small percentage of financial leaders) and “tax, tax, tax the rich.”

During the protests more than 25 demonstrators were temporarily arrested by Chicago police, some of whom were wearing Chicago Teachers Union shirts, locking arms and chanting “save our schools, save our homes!” After a short while they were released and given citations. A little while later police mounted on horseback appeared t be slightly flattered when some demonstrators began chanting “police need a pay raise!”

Meanwhile, as members of the Futures Industry Association (FIA) peaked over a nearby balcony from the Chicago Art Institute as a party was taking place inside, protesters outside pumped their fists towards the building shouting “shame on you!” According to witnesses, any sort of emotional response from the FIA members seemed to be nonexistent as they seemed to be completely disconnected from situation.

Surprisingly, some protesters even went as far as to pay more than $2000 for a badge to gain access to the AMBA event, and one even managed to get to a microphone during one of the panel discussions and ask the president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Michael Heid, “how he could sleep at night.” He also asked how Heid could have the audacity to visit the Chicago area after so many local citizens have been affected by foreclosures directly because of his actions. Heid’s response was that he felt like he was being aggressively “questioned by a congressional panel.”

In a statement later released, the AMBA acknowledged that certain members of their industry significantly contributed to the events that led up to the recent financial crisis. In a separate evening event related to social trends, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stated he believed that the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, and other smaller movements like the “Stand Up Chicago” group has been directly caused by the lack of attention on job creation by high-ranking politicians.

During a time of significant economic restructuring the middle-class citizens of America are facing new types of challenges, with foreclosures at an all-time high and unemployment steadily rising. Protesters were adamant that taxpayer dollars need to stop being allocated towards wars and start being used for creating jobs and improving the education system.

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