Chicago, Oct. 6—A rally of people against war filled Chicago’s biggest downtown streetside venue for public events today and overflowed into a parade that shut down six blocks of Michigan Avenue’s "miracle mile." The Sunday rally was the second big protest recently against the Bush Administration’s foreign policy; it was held at the Tribune Plaza on the bank of the Chicago River.
Unlike the demonstrations against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund that have taken place in Seattle, Washington, and abroad in the last two years, the Chicago parade did not involve any conflicts between police and demonstrators. There was no violence by demonstrators and no tear gas or pepper spray from the police.
While several groups have been planning the rally for weeks, by far the majority of the 1,500 to 2,000 people in the rally were not part of the sponsoring organizations, but were spontaneously drawn in from the many shoppers who regularly visit the area on Sundays, and from leafletting earlier in the week that announced the event.
The Chicago chapter of the national organization, Not In Our Name, set up a small factory for people to produce their own parade signs, giving them cardboard, sticks for handles, felt-tipped pens, and tape for assembling the placards. Among the Chicago signs were No More War; The Bush Girls Won’t Go; No Blood for Oil; Send Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush First; Invest in Education Not War; War Is Not The Answer; It’s The Economy Stupid; Our Grief is Not A Cry For War; Refuse and Resist A Police State; War Is No Excuse to Sacrifice Civil Rights; Release Prisoners Held Without Charges; Where’s the Evidence? and Stop Police Brutality.
A few pro-war demonstrators were barred by police from direct confrontation with the peace advocates.
The local Public Broadcasting System television station broadcast no news of the parade on its evening news program. A commercial television station devoted about 15 seconds to a scene from the rear of the parade that showed few, if any, of the placards displayed by paraders. Last Tuesday’s rally was front-paged by the Chicago Tribune with a five column photograph of No More War signs. The large photo clearly showed that Tuesday’s paraders were not the familiar combination of students and blue collar workers, but probably employees of the many nearby law officer, securities firms, banks, and the stock and commodities exchanges.
Sunday’s crowd included, many elderly, white haired men and women, students, trade unionists, Jobs With Justice members, blacks, whites, some women in Muslim headdresses, Jews with yarmulkes, many mothers pushing strollers with babies,
Chicago’s most famous author, 90-year-old, Studs Terkel, sent an impassioned speech that was read over a public address system.
One after another, a solemn procession of speakers briefly gave ad lib statements against war, ending with shouts of "Not In My Name," then articulated their own names defiantly as if they were petitioning the Bush Administration.
When the paraders dispersed, many returned to the tables that held Refuse and Resist anti-war leaflets, badges, and t-shirts. One mother bought a badge from her demonstrating daughter. A student commented that her English teacher had told her to attend. Dozens of photographers recorded the event.
One speaker spoke about several thousand US troops tracking down a "about 80" alleged al Qaeda adherents in the Philippines, in contrast with a recent Philippine government-ousting of a decades-old US military base near Manila.
Many platform speakers deplored the state of the economy, complained that investing billions in war was a lower priority than taking care of the unemployed and underpaid workers in the US. Several platform speakers said war preparations are costing billions of dollars that should go into health care and prescription drugs. One orator said he didn’t hate Bush and quoted Martin Luther King Jr. as saying, "The worst thing I can do to an opponent is to make him my friend." Added the orator, "I don’t want to make Bush my enemy, I just want him to join us in this opposition to war."chicago.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=14179&group=webcastE-mail this article