If you have access to any news source such as tv, newspapers, or the internet you have probably heard about the “Occupy Chicago” and other “Occupy” movements going on around the country that started from the “Occupy Wall-Street” protests in New York. These protests have been going on for a few weeks now, maybe even a month. Thousands of people are occupying busy streets of downtown, marching and protesting for change. There are many reasons I saw that people were protesting for, from education to housing to everything in between. The main reason that is the root of the problem is that the nation’s wealthiest 1% is controlling approximately 40% of the nation’s wealth. This 1% is getter increasingly wealthier all the time, with the help of the government, while the other 99% has to pay the price. Last week, I got a chance to experience the Occupy Chicago movement firsthand.
I’m a student at Harold Washington College which is located in downtown Chicago. I had heard about Occupy Chicago and had seen protesters in front of Daley plaza, so I had a general idea of what was going on. Last Monday, I was walking around by Millennium Park to kill time between classes when I noticed an unusually large concentration of police officers about a block away. Naturally, I wanted to see what was going on. I followed the flashing lights where I encountered a crowd of approximately 7,000 people (although the media would inaccurately report that there were merely hundreds of people) protesting in the street in front of the Art Institute. There were also hundreds of police present, more than I have ever seen in one place at one time ever in my life. I’m pretty sure there weren’t any cops present anywhere else in downtown at that time, I think they sent ever available squad by car, bike, and even horseback, to intimidate the protesters. I don’t know what they were so afraid of, Occupy Chicago is a completely peaceful movement, just people practicing free speech.
Traffic on that street was completely stopped by the sea of protesters. I saw a variety of signs, covering basically every problem you could think of. People where chanting and playing instruments. It looked like a revolution was going on. I heard from some of the people around me that the reason why they were occupying the street in front of the Art Institute that day was because there was some sort of banquet going on for a wealthy U.S. futures industry trade group. I looked up to the windows of the art institute and I could see them looking down at the protest, it was kind of funny. Here’s a picture I took:
Unfortunately, the protest didn’t last very long thanks to the Chicago Police Department, who did what they do best by stopping the most innocent, peaceful people from exercising their freedom and democracy. A line of police officers, shoulder-to-shoulder, eventually worked to plow protesters from the street. Of course, they were met with resistance and people chanting, “Our streets! Our streets!” but in the end the police were able to clear the streets and I believe a few arrests were made along with a handful of citations. In a bizarre effort to prove their power, the CPD followed up their street-clearing by marching a line of police on horses down the street. This was relatively pointless, but it did work as a fear tactic because a lot of people were shouting things like, “Watch out! They’re bringing out the horses!” It was quite strange, look:
Now the question is, will the nation-wide protests be heard? How long until a revolution occurs for the 99% of the population? How long will the Occupy movements continue until we see change? How long until we stop being peaceful and start trying to overthrow the government like what recently happened in Egypt? 2012 is near, everyone. That’s all I have to say…
In the meantime, the Occupy Chicago, Occupy Wall Street, and similar movements around the country still continue. People can afford to do nothing but protest all day everyday because a lot of people don’t have jobs due to the very problems they are trying to change through this protest. The system here in the United States is pretty messed up. Unless you are part of the lucky 1%, which theres a 99% chance you’re not. Good luck people.