Occupy Chicago Activists Face Second Mass Arrest; Rahm Emanuel Sends Nurses to Jail With Protesters
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One union whose members made their presence felt was National Nurses United, whose Medical Aid Tent was the focal point of the camp and the last to be taken down by police. This video shows the perspective of those who sat in front of the medical tent as police cleared the plaza:
NNU has already issued a press release condemning the CPD's actions and Rahm Emanuel in particular for the arrests of nurses and medical aid volunteers. NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said:
“Even in wartime, combatants respect the work of nurses and other first responders. Yet Mayor Emanuel and Chicago seem to care as little about that tradition as they do in protecting the constitutional rights of free speech and assembly. These arrests are disgraceful and unconscionable, and will not deter our nurses from continuing this mission, setting up the station again, and continuing to support the protests.”
Perhaps an even more telling line in the NNU press release says "Emanuel has been perhaps the most aggressive mayor in the nation in repression of the occupy Wall Street movement."
While Emanuel and other city officials no doubt want to convey that they can handle large protests in the context of the looming NATO/G8 meeting in May, it's hard to imagine that Chicago's mayor really wants to be seen as repressing a movement that his party has been trying to co-opt. Especially not when his former boss has to run a presidential election campaign out of the city next year.
So Emanuel may have brought on some seriously unwanted attention. NNU will picket the mayor’s office at 10am Monday morning, while on Tuesday at 3pm another protest has already been planned at City Hall to draw attention to Emanuel's push to reduce taxes for the Chicago Board of Exchange and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (of which the mayor is a former board member).
As for Occupy Chicago, their spirits don't seem to be dampened; even as their legal costs mount, the CPD gets tougher, and major questions remain about their next move. One protester released told In These Times' Micah Uetricht that those arrested had held a General Assembly in the holding cells of District 1.
In a press release released Sunday, Joshua Kaunert, who has been participating in Occupy Chicago for 22 days, said: "There isn’t an asterisk in the first amendment, where it says freedom of assembly as long as it’s convenient. We are non-violent, and have a right to air our grievances. The occupation will continue!”
Full disclosure: The author's wife is an Occupy Chicago participant and Press Committee member.
Joe Macaré is In These Times' Communications Director and token Englishman.