By Erin Meyer and Carlos Sadovi
Chicago teacher Margeaux Temeltas was among several thousand demonstrators who marched through downtown streets Monday, the latest in a series of protests across the country that have targeted economic equality.
“My students are under-educated,” said Temeltas, who teaches at Orr Academy High School on the West Side. “Their parents are unemployed and losing their homes to foreclosure.”
The demonstration was organized by Stand Up Chicago, a coalition of some 20 community groups and organizations that want “to reclaim our jobs, our homes and our schools,” according to the group’s website.
“We are here to restore economic equality,” said Phillip Mueller, 73, who said he was a Vietnam veteran from northwest Indiana. “We are not sold on one or two issues. It’s about a lot of problems.”
Protesters gathered at five downtown locations and snarled evening traffic as they marched toward a gathering at Monroe Drive and Michigan Avenue, next to the Art Institute of Chicago. The march was timed to coincide with a reception of the Futures Industry Association in the museum’s Modern Wing.
A large contingent organized by the Chicago Teachers Union crowded the plaza outside the Chicago Board of Trade before marching east on Jackson Boulevard.
“For teachers, all of these (economic) issues are connected,” said Elizabeth Parisian, spokeswoman for Stand Up Chicago. “It’s a matter of money moving out of our neighborhoods and into the hands of these bankers.”
Teacher Pablo Tinajero, 24, said he was marching in opposition to the longer school day being pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others.
In New York on Monday, music mogul Russell Simmons and the Rev. Al Sharpton lent their celebrity to the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has galvanized those who feel marginalized nationwide. Occupy Chicago supported the march Monday but kept a presence in the Loop‘s financial district.
On Sunday, police in Des Moines, Iowa, arrested 30 adults and took two juveniles into custody during a protest against economic inequality.
Stand Up Chicago wants a $1.4 billion tax levied on trading at the city’s biggest financial exchanges to fund a jobs program.
Calling CME Group Inc. and CBOE Holdings Inc. “giant casinos” that fuel the kind of “excessive risk-taking” it says brought on the financial crisis, the group is floating a 25-cent-per-contract tax on the two exchanges.
A CME spokesman declined to comment on the proposal. A CBOE spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
The Mortgage Bankers Association also was meeting in Chicago on Monday. The association’s chief executive officer, David Stevens, warned members of the planned protest during a morning session and urged them not to “engage or confront” the protesters.
When all of the protesters came together shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, they filled Monroe from Michigan to Columbus Drive, chanting as people on the Nichols Bridgeway snapped photographs of the scene.
At one point, marchers turned their attention to a group that was drinking wine while watching the demonstration from inside the Art Institute.
“Look at them. They are laughing at us,” said Morese Logan, 49, holding a banner that read “Take Back Chicago.”
Police worked to disperse the crowd and keep protesters on the sidewalk. At least one protester was taken away by police after confronting officers. Police said they made one arrest for battery to a police officer.
Eventually, protesters began cooperating with police and cleared out of the street by about 6:30 p.m.
Tribune news services contributed