Thousands of Chicagoans Protest City’s Decision to Close More Than 50 Chicago Public Schools

crowd marching

Thousands of protesters from unions, community organizations and schools across the city came together on March 27 to decry school closings instigated by Mayor Emanuel and CPS.

CHICAGO—A massive rally and downtown march sponsored by SEIU Local 1, UNITE HERE Local 1, the Grassroots Education Movement and the Chicago Teachers Union drew a crowd of close to 5,000—well above Chicago Police Department estimates. The protesters gathered in Daley Plaza before marching through the streets of downtown Chicago and around City Hall. The diminished rally participant number was yet another attempt by Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel to silence the voices of our city’s parents, teachers, workers, and most of all our children.

More than 100 parents, students, school employees, and community members’ banded together and sat down on LaSalle Street in front of City Hall in an act of civil disobedience to save Chicago’s schools—127 people were ticketed and detained, including SEIU Local 1 CPS custodians and President Tom Balanoff. The protesters called on the City of Chicago and its Board of Education to stop school closings and slow the expansion of the charter system in order to focus investment in our public school children, working families and our city’s struggling neighborhoods.

The rally united people across the city who oppose the City’s plan to close schools, expand charters and eliminate good, middle class jobs. The current proposals not only put students at risk for bad educational outcomes and increase exposure to violence, but devastate thousands of workers and their families.

UNITE HERE, SEIU Local 1 and Chicago Teachers Union represent school workers; the unions’ 125,000 households make up roughly 15 percent of the city’s population. These union members are not just workers in the public schools, they are parents and grandparents to 92,000 school aged children who overwhelming attend Chicago Public Schools.

crowdUNITE HERE Local 1, SEIU Local 1, the Grassroots Education Movement and the Chicago Teachers Union were joined by a broad-based coalition of community organizations, including: Action Now, Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Arab American Action Network, Blocks Together, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Bridgeport Alliance, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign, Grassroots Collaborative, Jobs With Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Northside Action for Justice, PACE, Parents 4 Teachers, Chicago PEACE, People for Community Recovery, Pilsen Alliance, SEIU Local 73, Southside Together Organizing for Power, Southsiders Organized for Unity & Liberation, Stand Up Chicago, Teachers for Social Justice and VOYCE.

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