Thousands Protest in Chicago as Emanuel’s “Devastating” Budget Is Approved

Thousands of protesters in Chicago blocked downtown traffic Thursday as part of the National Day of Action and to protest the city council's unanimous approval of Rahm Emanuel's budget cuts.

The march included an action blocking a major bridge over the Chicago River during rush hour, ending in 46 tickets for “Pedestrian Failure to Exercise Due Care,” and a long march that at one point blocked traffic on the major Lake Shore Drive thoroughfare.

“We hope it inspires other people to stand up for themselves,” Lucinda Scharbach, one of those ticketed for blocking the bridge and a member of the labor and community coalition Stand Up! Chicago, told The Chicago Tribune.

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Scharbach said she participated “so that other people in Chicago see that we're not afraid to stand up for ourselves and our rights, and they can also do the same.”

Thursday was also the day that Mayor Emanuel's so-called “budget of the 1 percent” was approved by the city council. The budget will close half of the city's mental health centers, privatize all seven of the city's community health clinics, cut 517 jobs along with 2,000 vacant positions and reduce the hours of public libraries.

The expected outcome of the cuts will be devastating, said speakers at the N17 rally.

“I wanted to remind those of us who are lucky enough to still have a job that we're just one layoff away from losing our health insurance or our homes,” Jamie Hayes, one of the people engaging in the civil disobedience, told Progress Illinois. “What little safety net we do have in this country will be taken away if the one percent has their way. If that's not class warfare, I don't know what is.”