At approximately 5 p.m. thousands of protesters marched through downtown Chicago, eventually converging at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Michigan Avenue was shut down and traffic grinded to a halt as the streets from about Congress Parkway to Washington Street were closed because of the protest march.
The march was officially titled “Take Back Chicago!” and was organized by Stand Up Chicago, a coalition of community and labor organizations and working families. According to their website, their goal is to “[stand] up together to demand good jobs and a strong investment in our community’s schools and neighborhoods.”
Groups that participated today’s “Take Back Chicago” march included but were not limited to the Chicago Teachers Union, the Service Employees International Union and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
The organizers had people who supported their cause meet in one of five “feeder locations” that were all planed to converge on the Art Institute.
The two “Jobs Marches” began at Federal Plaza and Daley Plaza, the “Homes March” began at the Hyatt Regency at Wacker Drive and Stetson Avenue while the “Schools Marches” began at the Hilton Chicago on Balbo Avenue and Michigan Avenue (mainly students and activists) and the Board of Trade at Jackson Boulevard and LaSalle Street (mainly teachers).
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis led the “Schools March” consisted of mainly teachers at Board of Trade. All five marches that eventually converged on the Art Institute Museum at around 5 p.m., where the Mortgage Bankers Association and Futures Industry Association were holding a conference.
Members of Futures Industry Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association that were attending the 27th Annual Futures & Options Expo at the Art Institute, which according to its website, was to “showcase products, services and information for market professionals and participants, with hundreds of risk management products, trading tools, books and exchange and technology products were presented by more than 140 companies from around the world” overlooking the protesters that has taken over the immediate area around the museum and snapping pictures as helicopters buzzed overhead.
“I’m here because I’m against plutocracy. The reason we are here in this location is because the Futures Traders Association is having a meeting there (The Art Institute Museum) right now. This is not organized by Occupy Chicago, this a movement organized by a series of unions, workers rights groups, and various progressive organizations,” said Luke Herrine, one of the thousands of protesters present at the protest action said.
Chicago Police, some mounted on horses, held the line, not allowing protesters to get too close to the entrances of the Art Institute. as the protesters continue to chant and refused to leave of the streets.
Eventually, Chicago Police began to ask the protesters to move away from the museum. Although the Take Back Chicago protesters numbered in the thousands, only one person was arrested for battery to a police officer. Officers also issued 26 citations to other protesters.
There were also conflicting reports that police were using pepper spray on the crowd to disperse them although at this time official sources can neither confirm or deny this.
Eventually around 7:30 p.m., protesters cooperated with police and began to clear out of the streets they had successfully shut down during rush hour traffic, with many of the protesters who decided to not go home heading over to the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway to merge with the Occupy Chicago general assembly.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens warned the morning general session of the conference that protesters were expected to arrive at the hotel in the afternoon. He told attendees not to ‘engage or confront’ the protesters, and advised they use pedestrian tunnels and others means to leave the building if needed.”