|Part of the Occupy movement|
|Date||September 23, 2011 – February 1, 2013|
|Location||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Causes||Economic inequality, corporate influence over government, inter alia.|
|Methods||Demonstration, occupation, protest, street protesters|
|Arrests and injuries|
Occupy Chicago was an ongoing collaboration that has included peaceful protests and demonstrations against economic inequality, corporate greed and the influence of corporations and lobbyists on government which has been taking place in Chicago since September 24, 2011. The protests began in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York.
Occupy Chicago had been consistently occupying the corners of Jackson and LaSalle in Chicago's financial district. Occupy Chicago was unique among the major occupations across the country in that it lacked a permanent encampment. Protesters remained outdoors, exposed to the elements 24 hours a day. Due to city ordinances, protesters were told that all supplies had to be technically "mobile." Protesters complied with the city by containing all of the occupation's supplies (including signs, food, and clothing) in carts on the sidewalk. It also has created a more fluid atmosphere at Occupy Chicago with individual protesters fluctuating in and out.
Occupy Chicago was also unique in that unlike Occupy Wall Street it is positioned directly in front of major financial centers, including the Board of Trade, Bank of America, and the Federal Reserve Building. This proximity has resulted in the curious sight of traders watching the protesters while outside on breaks. It has also resulted in taunts from workers in the Board of Trade. On October 4, 2011 a sign was visible in the windows of the Board of Trade that read, "WE ARE THE 1%." The sign was quickly taken down.
In late 2011 Occupy Chicago was able to recruit massive crowds of people to embark on protest marches throughout Chicago because its politics were still very inclusive with primarily "left" liberal minded people and communists, socialists, anarchists but also a fair share of libertarians and even a few who identified as conservative. Over time as the political direction of the group developed many of the more moderate individuals left and a more radical political stance became dominant within the movement. In 2011, Occupy Chicago was the foundation for the Occupy High School campaign.
Attempts at permanent occupation
Seeking to create a permanent, sheltered base, over 175 protesters were arrested under the orders of Chicago's mayor Rahm Emanuel on the morning of October 16 after refusing to take down tents and remaining in Grant Park near Chicago's lakefront after the park's posted closing hours. Remaining in any unfenced park between 11 P.M. and 4 A.M. or erecting a tent or other structure without a permit is a crime according to Chicago Municipal Code (MCC) and park district ordinances.
One week later, during a second attempt at occupation during the evening of October 22 and morning of October 23rd, Chicago police arrested 130 demonstrators, again for refusing to leave the park after the posted closing hours. Two of those arrested were nurses and members of National Nurses United who had set up a medical tent to provide any needed medical services to the occupation.
On October 27, 2011 Occupy Chicago planned a candlelight vigil in solidarity with Scott Olsen and Occupy Oakland. The 30 protesters were met with Chicago Police Department officers and Illinois State Troopers on order from governor Pat Quinn armed with tear gas masks, attack dogs, and police wagons.
Indoor space at 500 W. Cermak
Occupy Chicago remained outdoors without an encampment until January 2012 when the organization acquired an indoor space at 500 W. Cermak in the East Pilsen neighborhood. This headquarters was envisioned to be a community hub but has never actualized those ambitions.
After the NATO summit left Chicago May 21, 2012 the Occupy Chicago loft rental was downsized from two units to one smaller unit, where general assemblies and committee meetings were held, as well as a space for storage.
On February 1, 2013 Occupy Chicago will terminate its lease at 500 W. Cermak and continue on despite diminished interest/presence without an expensive indoor headquarters.
In addition to the national and global issues addressed by the Occupy movement at large, Occupy Chicago has been active in local political issues.
In a move to bolster law enforcement of the Occupy movement and upcoming G8 and NATO summits, in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recently passed ordinance imposes harsher fines and rules for protests and demonstrations. A letter sent by Occupy Chicago to 50 of Chicago's aldermen reads: "Given what the ordinance actually says, it cannot be construed as an effort to protect the integrity of G8 and NATO conferences. This measure is a permanent attack on public protest in the City of Chicago. The consequences of this attack will be far reaching, and will be felt by protesters throughout the city, most of whom will never have any connection to the protests associated with these events."
Howard Morgan case
The group has also become involved in the case of Howard Morgan, a black off-duty police offer who was shot 28 times by four white officers. Morgan was jailed, with bail set at $2 million, for a handful of charges including attempted murder. He was freed after a trial in 2007, but then convicted in January 2012. Occupy Chicago demonstrated at his April 5, 2012, sentencing, where judge Clayton Crane sentenced him to 40 years in prison.
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- Chicago Board of Trade to Occupy Chicago Protesters: "We Are the 1%" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/05/chicago-board-of-trade-to_n_996635.html
- "Occupy High School".
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- "Nurses protest outside Emanuel's office over Occupy Chicago arrests". Chicago Tribune. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
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- "Occupy Chicago now occupies Pilsen". Chicagoist. 20 January 2012.
- "Occupy Pushes Back Against Protest Ordinance As Law Enforcement Preps For Fight". Progress Illinois.
- Fitzpatrick, Lauren (5 April 2012). "http://www.suntimes.com/news/11730457-418/man-shot-28-times-by-chicago-cops-gets-40-years-in-prison.html". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 5 April 2012. External link in
- rmperrotta (4 April 2012). "Thurs April 5, 8am: Free Howard Morgan Demo at Cook County Courthouse!". Blog. Occupy Chicago. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
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