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(en) US, demo in Chicago

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 21 Mar 2003 15:56:20 +0100 (CET)


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I just got home from the demo in my town. It started off at 5pm, speeches
and so on. I got there at 5:30 and it was very crowded, already people were
having a hard time fitting in the plaza. The crowd was fairly mixed-
assorted vanguardist space aliens sellling newspaper, religious peaceniks,
Puerto Rican nationalists, Palestian groups anarchists, labor folks, a lot
of students - both university and school kids, including some JROTC
(military training program), and a lot of other people.

Lots of great banners, both printed and home-made, including a group of
teachers against the war, and public health workers against the war, both of
which were exciting because not many links are being made between major
cutbacks here in education, health, and housing, and the 'war on terror' and
the war on Iraq.

Around 6pm or so the rally started to march, it split into two marches going
up different streets. The one I was with got stopped by a police line a
block away. After a few minutes of tension protesters pushed passed the cops
and the cops backed off.

Lots of fun chants - 'Whose streets our streets' became 'whose planet our
planet'. The two marches converged at the entrance ramp to Lake Shore Drive,
sort of like a highway, a big high-traffic road which affords a great view
of the city and the lake the city sits on. We faced off another police line,
and eventually got past them until we were on Lake Shore Drive, occupying
the northbound ramp (four lanes.) We marched up that for a while and people
started climbing over the concrete barrier and taking the lanes of
southbound traffic as well. For a while the cops tried to stop people, but
enough people got there that the police had no option but to let us go
(Chicago's fine local collective - the Brick Collective - of the Federation
of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives, Great Lakes, helped spur people to
occupy those lanes by leading the charge with their black and red flags and
banner and black bloc dress). Once the drive stopped being highway style
ramps we started occupying the streets that ran parallel to it as well.
Eventually we cut across a park and were finally halted by a massive police
presence.

We stood and listened to drums and chanted and such for quite a while as
more police amassed. The cops boxed a lot of people in and many people
started leaving as more and more cops showed up. The folks who were boxed in
eventually marched back around to another intersection where they were held
again by police. I ran into this as I was trying to walk toward my home.
Last I knew the police were arresting people and a friend just called to say
that people are still boxed in right now and are waiting for police to bring
in new buses to put people one -the word is two police buses filled with
arrested people, probably about 100 people.

Estimates I heard for turnout were between 1,000 and 3,000 people, but I
think there were more than that as this is the biggest demo in Chicago I've
been to.

It was interesting that so many people marched - more than were at the
rally, a number of people kept saying "where did they all come from?" People
on the sidewalks were very supportive and applauded and joined in a lot.
Over all the whole atmosphere was very festive and fairly militant compared
to most actions here. Tomorrow morning there's civil disobedience and then
another rally in the evening. Apparently the bourgeious (sp?) press is
giving this a lot of coverage, whatever that means, saying it's the biggest
or one of the biggest of the day's actions in the US.

I'm told a lot of high school (and in one instance, kids as young as 11 to
13) have been walking of school and holding spontaneous demos. That was the
most part of tonight, all the different ages of people (and the racial
composition was more diverse, ie less white, than usual actions here) and
the spontaneity of it all - no one was leading it so much as we all just
marched where we wanted (until the police finally stopped us.)

All in all it was highly spirit-boosting event after a day spent listening
to radio reports in the car of the war. I'd love to hear more from San
Francisco and anywhere else.
N.

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