While most Northwestern students were still recovering from their Halloweekends Monday morning, others protested with hundreds of other people during a Moral Mondays march in Chicago. Chanting, “They say cut back, we say fight back,” the protestors expressed their agitation with Illinois Govenor Bruce Rauner’s recent budget cuts.
Rex Tai, Weinberg ’15, organized a bus to take Northwestern students to and from the protest. Tai helped fundraise for former Governor Pat Quinn last year and strongly disagrees with Rauner’s policies.
“We knew he would cut a lot of these important social programs while favoring the pockets of corporations,” Tai said.
Tai said he was pleased with the diverse turnout of groups supporting the cause. In addition to NU students, various social activist groups attended the protest, including religious leaders from pastors in clerical collars to rabbis in tallit. Protestors’ signs criticized the budget from several angles, including women’s rights and antiracism. They marched from the James R. Thompson Center to the Chicago Board of Trade, where they blocked off the doors from all sides of the buildings.
“You had a lot of groups and religious leaders a lot of racial justice people, people representing a variety of issues, and it was a very diverse crowd that you don’t really get to see very often,” Tai said. “That visibility is a very powerful display.”
Claire Sloss, who works for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, explained the specific impact the cuts will have on her organization. “The governor is cutting back on services for homeless people, the things that they need like shelter, services and case management, and we want to fight back,” Sloss said.
Tajauna Jackson, who marched with the People’s Lobby, added that the cuts to childcare subsidies would seriously impact her ability to work and support her family.
Pastor Michael Russell spoke outside the Board of Trade to the protestors, thanking them for “risking their bodies to disrupt business as usual, because business as usual is hurting people, like the seniors here at my church, homeless youth in the neighborhood and children of color whose parents can’t go to work, because working parents were robbed of their daycare subsidies.”
The protest definitely succeeded in disrupting the work day, inhibiting employees at the Board of Trade from entering or exiting the building. Disgruntled passersby heckled the protestors, cursing and even getting out of cars to yell at them.
41 people were arrested.