Revolution Online, October 13, 2011

Making a Difference at the Stand Up Protest in Chicago

Revolution received the following correspondence:

Yesterday several thousand, some reports said 7,000, protesters took to the streets in Chicago to protest a group of bankers and financiers meeting at the Art Institute here. Organized by a coalition called Stand Up! Chicago, it was the most diverse protest I've seen in years. Students of all nationalities from many high schools and colleges in Chicago were joined by basic Black and Latino masses, from a homeless organization, unions and many community organizations. An after-school arts program had a marching band, and many others playing drums, horns, bells and whistles gave the march a very young, lively, spirited atmosphere. Chants were in English and some in Spanish. "The people united will never be defeated" was a popular one, and from the Black youth, "No Justice, No Peace."

I was one of several people distributing the special BAsics issue and new issue of Revolution newspaper. I wanted to share some responses I got talking to people:

The most common response to the protest was "It's about time." While most of the signs and slogans were about economic issues, there was a very clear sense that people were there with a long simmering anger over a host of issues and an overall sense that things in this country are thoroughly f'd up and have to change.

Several people I talked to were unemployed middle class people. One woman had worked in an alternative school that worked with ex-prisoners, but had been unemployed for months. There were people there who had lost schools in their communities, and teachers with many students whose homes had been foreclosed.

But not everyone was there because they had been directly affected by the economy. A young woman told me, "I'm not hurting. But I think what's being done to people is a moral issue and that's why I had to come."

A man from Germany said: "I make $75,000 a year. But I'm from Germany, originally East Germany. I saw the wall come down, and it started with Monday protests, started small. So I had to be here. I know people have the power if they just keep it up."

A woman from Argentina referenced the struggle of the people in her country and was elated that at last people in the U.S. were "waking up."

In talking about BAsics and Bob Avakian and the need and possibility for revolution, people expressed both tremendous dissatisfaction and frustration with the current system, and much disappointment in Obama, and openness to what we were saying, but it was clear they had a hard time breaking out of the framework of capitalism and bourgeois democracy. One person asked if we had a leader who could run in the elections. Many people directed their anger at the corporations having too much power, as if this was an aberration. And some said things like we need to remind the corporations of the Constitution. Yet there was real interest that BAsics and our Constitution (Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)) represent a viable vision for a whole different way society could be.

And people I talked to were very glad to see us be part of the mix. I complimented one young drummer, telling him his playing made a real difference there. He said, "You revolutionaries' presence makes a real difference here."

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