Monday, May 01, 2006

Note From Chicago Protests...

I must say, I totally dig Chicago. The city has a blue-collar, common-sense flavor to it; a town of hard work and diverse close-knit neighborhoods. It is a city born of inteimmigration and migration. New immigrants with their work ethic have no problem adopting the city's ethos. And that extends to its surrounding suburbs such as Joliet, Aurora, and Waukegan. You get the feeling sometimes, that it is America at its best. The Trib has a great blog-like summary of todays protest in Grant Park, those little snippets that captured some pretty big moments. And this picture in the Trib, taken by a reader, John Matt Dorn, just seems to sum it all up. Its about as Chicago as you can get.

Starting at my old neighborhood in Wicker Park, moving to Grant Park.

Its Everyone..hey even Palestinians and Israelis.

10:30 a.m. About 150 people had gathered at Division Street and Milwaukee Avenue by 9:30 a.m., unfurling U.S., Mexican and Polish flags.

"I am seven years here. I love America," said a burly Polish construction worker who identified himself as Jan Kowalski. "We work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. I pay taxes. I pay Social Security."

9:40 a.m.: At the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center on the Northwest side, dozens of Korean and Filipino immigrants boarded school buses around 10 a.m., saying they wanted to add an Asian-American presence to the march.

Bryant Kim, 24, of Chicago, adjusted the red, blue and yellow sashes of his traditional Korean outfit. He planned to play at the event with the IL Kwa Nori (Work and Play) percussion troupe.

"By participating, this shows that immigration is a universal issue," he said.

11:15 a.m.: The Wicker Park feeder march headed south on Ashland Avenue with a sound system blaring the late '70s anthem "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" and the song "Walk This Way."

The crowd, having swollen to more than 1,000, displayed multiple flags from the Palestinian Authority, the Philippines, Poland as well as the multicolored banner of gay pride.

But the U.S. flag dominated. Amber Javed, 23, of Chicago, carried a sign in Urdu that translated: "We are America."

"It's going to be a beautiful day," said Javed, an immigrant from Pakistan

12:01 p.m.: The head of the march is now at Des Plaines and Madison Streets, led by a row of flags from Israel, Japan, Argentina and more. The sign on the pace car reads: "We are are here, like it or not."

Some skinheads trying to cause trouble......

12:38 p.m. There is conflict with three or four skinheads on LaSalle Street. Charles Williams, deputy superintendent of patrol, takes a handful of officers into the crowd and kicks them out. The crowd cheers the police, chanting "paz. (peace)."

There is something really compelling about that image, that made me crack a big smile....

The unruly demonstrators..demanding special rights...

The crowd now is chanting, "We want to pay taxes!"

Peaceful And Orderly

4:17 p.m.: Charles Williams of Chicago Police Department now estimates the crowd at 400,000.

He says no arrests were reported as of about 3:45 p.m. One person needed emergency medical service and transport by the Chicago Fire Department after fainting. A few kids ended up at the lost child tent.

Williams says there have been no huge traffic hassles and he calls the demonstration "a very good march."

7:52 p.m. At a wrap-up news conference Monday night, Office of Emergency Management and Communications Executive Director Andrew Velasquez said there were no arrests during the rally.

The office handled 10 ambulance calls -- "none of which were trauma" – with more than 200 firefighters, paramedics and other Chicago Fire Department personnel on hand, Velasquez said.

Although the rally attracted about 400,000 demonstrators, "at no time, I repeat at no time, was order disrupted," he said.

After the demonstration, crews from the Department of Streets and Sanitation cleaned up what they regarded as a "moderate" amount of debris.

Deputy Supt. of Police Charles Williams said the 400,000 people "were able to peaceably march and get their message out without breaking the law."

Williams credited march organizers.

"What we had were organizers who had volunteers along the march route to keep the peace," Williams said. "They helped police themselves, which assists us.