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The Mechanics

Police Fri Sep 20 2013

Charges Dropped for Anti-ALEC Activists

As you may recall from an earlier Mechanics post, on August 8th Chicago police officers violently cracked down on activists protesting the American Legislative Executive Council (ALEC) outside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago.

Those who witnessed the incident said they saw officers rush a group of protesters and aggressively arrest targeted individuals in the crowd. They said the attack came without warning and did not appear provoked. Six protesters were arrested and charged with various offenses.

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Emily Brosious / Comments (2)

Police Tue Aug 13 2013

Why Did Chicago Police Attack ALEC Protesters?

Photo by Justin Carlson, via The Anti-Media

Thousands of activists, union and faith group members, and concerned citizens rallied outside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago this past Thursday to protest the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose 40th anniversary conference was being held inside the hotel.

Demonstrators picketed around the block for about an hour, then gathered at a soundstage to hear speakers including Rev. Jesse Jackson address the crowd. Closing remarks from a Chicago Federation of Labor representative thanked the Fraternal Order of Police for protecting the crowd and asked everyone to leave. A majority of union members, many from out-of-town, did leave at the CFL's request. However, a smaller group of anti-ALEC activists and citizens stayed put to continue on with the protest.

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Emily Brosious

The Left Thu Jul 05 2012

Socialism 2012: When Marx Rejoined Modern America

"Socialist" is the dirtiest insult in American politics.

So when I arrived at a hotel lobby last Thursday night to see what a conference that had the audacity to call itself "Socialism 2012" looked and sounded like, I wasn't sure what to expect. Was anyone actively involved in political and social struggles relevant to the average person going to be there? Or was this just going to be parade of faux-revolutionaries wearing t-shirts with pictures and quotes from radical icons, patting themselves on the back for their own self-righteousness? And more importantly, would anything happening over the next four days actually have an impact in the Chicagoland area (much less the world)?

Sure enough, I immediately found groups of 20-somethings in the hallways hawking t-shirts with sales pitches like "Get your Egyptian revolutionary socialist t-shirts here! Straight from Tahrir Square! $20!" But as the weekend progressed, I found much more than I ever could have expected.

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Jason Prechtel / Comments (4)

Occupy Chicago Wed May 02 2012

#MayDay in Chicago

Yesterday protestors took to the streets for May Day protests supporting workers rights and other causes in what many saw as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming NATO summit. Mechanics contributor Mike Ewert chronicled the posts, pictures, and tweets from the day's events on Storify.

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Occupy Chicago Tue Mar 27 2012

Occupy Festival Postponed

The Occupy Festival, a music event originally planned for May 12-13 in the Near West Side's Union Park, is being postponed to address various concerns. Among these concerns was the matter of the ticket price and where the proceeds go to.

The ticket price is being reduced significantly, and all proceeds will be going to the Occupy movement. Originally, festival staff would be paid for their time, and 50 percent of proceeds would go to Occupy, but many in the movement felt this was an attempt to make money off of the Occupy brand.

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Tyler Davis

Occupy Chicago Sun Mar 25 2012

Occupy the Bike Lane

_MG_2596.JPGSpring has arrived in Chicago, and even Occupy Chicago is enjoying the warm weather.

On Sunday evening, about 30 Occupiers got their bikes out for Occupy the Bike Lane.

"It's just a fun event for Occupiers to get together and do something we enjoy," said John, who declined to give his last name.

"The warm weather hit early, so we're training for long days of marching and riding during the Chicago Spring," said Occupier Emily Day in a press release.

Occupy Chicago is planning demonstrations for April 7, May 1 and ten days of action leading up to the NATO summit.

Tyler Davis

Occupy Chicago Thu Mar 15 2012

Eye on #OCHI: About that Festival

eyeonochi.jpgBy Joe Macaré

If you think about the commodification of lifestyle in our capitalist society, we're now able to purchase any kind of identity you could possibly imagine within that. ... The idea that your money, how you spend it, is where your politics is expressed potentially reproduces the idea that capitalist democracy is this great marketplace of ideas where it's just up to you to pick and choose. It ignores uneven power relations, social relations, the fact that some ideas are more "valued" than others are and can quite literally be a matter of life and death for another individual or population.
Mimi Thi Nguyen

The organizers of the Occupy Festival, scheduled to take place May 12-13 in Union Park, say on their snazzy-looking website that they want "to highlight the struggle of social and economic inequality through artistic performance." In an email exchange, the man behind the festival, Graham Czach, told me it's intended to provide "a place for expression, peace, positivity, and change."

There's been plenty of expression: A lot of people have been expressing their views on the Occupy Festival already, but this hasn't involved much peace, and only a little positivity. And the change people seem afraid of is a perhaps inevitable—but still to be resisted—process in which Occupy becomes a consumer brand. Some worry that because their General Assembly (GA) has officially endorsed the event, Occupy Chicago is accelerating this process.

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Mechanics / Comments (2)

Occupy Chicago Thu Feb 09 2012

Eye on #OCHI: Aldermanic Puppets and Protests

By Joe Macaré


There are a lot of fascinating sights to be seen at Occupy Chicago's new indoor space at 500 W. Cermak Ave., but perhaps the most striking is the painting of "King Rahm" and the Aldermanic puppet figures who hang from his fingers.

Four members of the City Council have been singled out for this dubious honor: Carrie Austin (Ward 34), Walter Burnett, Jr. (27), Joe Moore (49), and Joe Moreno (1).

Moreno's relationship with Occupy Chicago is complicated. Always active on Twitter, he expressed support there early on and has retweeted calls to donate coffee to Occupiers at LaSalle and Jackson — and in an email conversation, he told me he is still "absolutely sympathetic to Occupy."


Easy to say, but when I asked Moreno what the issues are on which he and the movement agree, he laid out a pretty spot-on diagnosis of the malaise to which Occupy is a response:

The priorities of our nation have been upside down for the last 30 years. Since Ronald Reagan, it seems we have somehow legitimized greed; somehow made this most negative of things seem patriotic.

Thankfully, since Occupy began, people have started to question these assumptions. The 2008 economic crisis was a much-needed slap in the face to our citizenry.

The people who caused this near-Depression are today back to doing the same things, which caused it. Occupy helps (and sometimes forces) people to recognize the economic injustice, which is now so metastasized within our system that no one seems to know how to kill it.

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Mechanics / Comments (1)

Occupy Chicago Tue Jan 31 2012

Eye On #OCHI: AdBusters and the Locals

by Joe Macaréeyeonochi.jpg

Adbusters jumped onboard the NATO/G8 protest bandwagon last week, and in the process pushed Occupy Chicago further into the national (and international) spotlight.

Unfortunately, they did this without contacting Occupy Chicago beforehand, and in a manner that invoked the police violence of the 1968 Democratic Convention protests.

That Adbusters were acting unilaterally is evident from reading their January 25 announcement with even a vague working knowledge of Occupy Chicago and the existing plans for protest around the NATO/G8 summits -- the kind of knowledge you could get easily from the mainstream media. Aside from the incendiary rhetoric and imagery, and the fact that it doesn't once mention the existing Occupy movement in Chicago or link to their site, "Tactical Briefing #25" also includes a list of demands that were neither drafted nor endorsed by any Occupy movement.

There's no doubt that the Adbusters announcement got a lot of people excited: Mostly those from outside of Chicago who relished the chance to grab a tent and head on down for May 1 (a date that itself is problematic, given how far ahead of the summits it is and the fact that Chicago activism's own May Day traditions tend to focus on labor and immigration). On local Twitter accounts and the forums, however, the excitement was tempered with confusion that rapidly turned into annoyance and even anger as it became clear that AdBusters had done this on their own.

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Occupy Chicago Mon Jan 23 2012

Eye On #OCHI: Focus on Free Speech

By Joe Macaré

eyeonochi.jpgJanuary has been something of a resurgent month for Occupy Chicago, with a new indoor space secured just in time for a late-arriving winter, and the beginning of preparations for the "Chicago Spring," a mass rally and day of action scheduled for April 7.

But the last month has also seen something of a shift in focus, with a great deal of energy being spent protesting the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's protest and parade ordinance. This hasn't just been in evidence just at protests and actions specifically organized around these issues: When Occupy Chicago made a conscious effort to get people back out to LaSalle and Jackson for a "Return to HQ" on Jan. 13, two of the first people there were young women handing out fliers about SOPA.

In some ways this is simply the result of timing and circumstance: President Obama signed the NDAA to mark the New Year, and the past week saw both the culmination of protests around SOPA (and its Senate equivalent, the acronym-within-an-acronym PROTECT IP Act, aka PIPA) and the passage of Emanuel's ordinance by the subservient City Council.

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Mechanics / Comments (1)

National Politics Sat Jan 21 2012

One Day, Two Downtown Protests

Two demonstrations occurred downtown on Saturday. A group of demonstrators gathered in support for the people of Egypt, while another unrelated group marched through the streets in support of sustainable seafood.

About 30 people gathered in front of the Egyptian Consulate, located at 500 N. Michigan Ave., and shouted, in Arabic, in support of the people of Egypt and against the military council currently in control.

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Tyler Davis

Chicago Sun Dec 04 2011

Occupy Chicago Joins Motel Occupation

Visitors to Pastor Corey B. Brooks Head onto the Roof

At 7p.m. tonight, Occupy Chicago will hold its first overnight occupation on the South Side following a general assembly on property owned by New Beginnings Church. The church is hosting the event in conjunction with its own occupation of the derelict Super Motel at 6625 S. Martin Luther King Blvd, which is across the street from its main sanctuary. Its pastor, Corey B. Brooks, has been camping on the roof of the motel for a dozen days and fasting on water alone. He plans on camping on the site until the church raises $450,000 to raze the former motel and build a community center with mixed-use, mixed-income development on site.

Pastor Brooks said that he was "excited" when contacted by Occupy Chicago. "I think that anybody who -- especially when they're not from this area -- wants to come lend support, we've got to be open to that." Ultimately, the pastor hopes that he can play a role mediating between the group and Mayor Emanuel. "I want to have good relations with everybody. We are the church. We're not supposed to be at war with anybody ... We bring about peace."

Follow developments in the motel case on the Project H.O.O.D. website and through Pastor Brooks' Twitter account, CoreyBBrooks. Occupy Chicago is online at

Additional photographs follow.

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David Schalliol / Comments (1)

Occupy Chicago Fri Oct 28 2011

Tariq Ali on the Arab Spring and #OccupyWallStreet

"Hey! think the time is right for a palace revolution
But where I live the game to play is compromise solution"

"Street Fighting Man," often hailed as the Rolling Stones' most political song, was allegedly inspired by Tariq Ali — political thinker, novelist, filmmaker and activist. Ali was involved in protesting the Vietnam war, and has written more than two dozen works of non-fiction and seven novels. Last night, he spoke at the Biograph Theater on the relation between the protests that resulted in the Arab Spring and the occupy movements that are spreading across the globe.

While he sees Occupy Wall Street and its spin-offs as indication that "things are beginning to move" here in the US, he remains realistic — the occupations may not achieve the results the 99% want, yet are "creating a space" for something "totally different": for the realization that there is and must be an alternative to the "corporate capitalism" that rules what is effectively a one-party system. Democrat or Republican, the US government is comprised of what amounts to an "extreme center," in which politicians, when in power, wind up doing the same thing as their predecessor, regardless of party affiliation. And that one thing is simple: stay in the pockets of corporate capital, and stay in power.

Ali began his talk by pointing out how even the smallest beginning of a grassroots movement can have a global impact. When the Egyptians saw what the Tunisians had achieved — "not known for their political activities — they thought, "If they can do it, so can we." Those who ignited the Arab Spring were resoundingly doubted — no one thought they could do it. What the world witnessed during those months was not, certainly, unprecedented. Ali was clear that this had been brewing for three or four years prior to the eruption, as seen in factory strikes and demonstrations on a smaller scale.

The points here are two-fold: whether the occupy movements taking shape across the US and abroad would have happened at all without the impetus of the Arab Spring is doubtful, although possible in perhaps another form, and the occupy movements may amount to some of the "smaller demonstrations" that prefaced a larger uprising and true change brought about by Tahrir Square.

The Arab Spring and the occupy movements may differ in scale, but qualitatively they are very similar. The occupiers are railing against what they see as the "paralysis that has afflicted their politicians" and the "widespread disillusionment" in the wake of the Obama presidency. Obama (or at least the idea of him) who Ali cites as the "most inventive apparition the [American] Empire could develop," is little different from his predecessor. What the US got isn't change, it's "continuity with other imperial presidents before him."

At the end of the day, #OWS, #OccupyChi, and their brethren represent an opportunity, to which Ali really has only one thing to say: "Don't waste it."

If you missed last night's discussion, you can read more about his thoughts on the occupy movements and the Arab Spring here.

Megan E. Doherty

Occupy Chicago Wed Oct 26 2011

A Small Token of Support for (or Against) #OccupyWallStreet

Busy Beaver Button Co. has created buttons for both sides of the #OccupyWallStreet issue. The 99% 1-inch buttons glow in the dark, and are a very affordable 10 for $7. The 1% buttons, on the other hand, are made with 24-karat gold and cost $100 apiece. That's not to say the 1-percenters can't get a deal: the price drops to $99 each if you order 50 or more.

#occupywallst buttons

Fifty percent of the profits from the sale of 1% buttons will go to the Association House of Chicago, a nonprofit settlement house in Humboldt Park providing health, education and social services to recent immigrants and families in need.

Andrew Huff / Comments (4)

Occupy Chicago Sun Oct 23 2011

More than 100 Arrested as Occupy Chicago "Takes the Horse"

Occupy Chicago Demonstration

More than 1,000 Occupy Chicago demonstrators marched to the corner of Michigan and Congress on Saturday night as the movement attempted to occupy Grant Park for a second week in a row.

After hours of demonstrating, dozens of protestors were arrested around 1am on Sunday while supporters chanted, "ONE - We are the people! TWO - We are united! THREE - The occupation is not leaving!"

The protest was as notable for its size as its orderliness, with demonstrators hosting conversations weighing the pros and cons of risking arrest and police officers glacially moving towards detaining the protestors. Nearly two hours passed between when the police shut down the park and the first protesters were escorted to CPD trucks in plastic restraints.

More photographs from the demonstration are below.

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David Schalliol / Comments (2)

Occupy Chicago Tue Oct 18 2011

On The Street With #OccupyChicago

by Daniel Hertz

Evelyn and Josh come running across Michigan Avenue from the Grant Park side, where the Chicago police are in the process of arresting almost two hundred protesters and dismantling their tents.

They're laughing. It's two in the morning.

Evelyn runs up to another demonstrator, puts one hand on their shoulder, and hunches conspiratorially with her back to the line of cops guarding the sidewalk. There are about five hundred people on this side. Because it's not in the park, and therefore does not close at night, the police are not arresting anyone on the east side of the street.

"If I start gesticulating, and pointing this way," Evelyn says, waving her hands now to the left, "they'll think I'm ordering people around." She's still breathing heavily from the run. "They think I'm a leader. I'm not actually saying anything, but they'll think we're doing something!"

She bolts the group that's formed around her and starts jogging around the sidewalk, pointing at people.

"We'll start counting people! They'll think we're starting something." I must have a quizzical look on my face, because she stops for a moment and says, "The cops said they have their eyes on me." She points two fingers at her eyes, and then at mine. "Like that." She starts counting again.

Soon, though, she and a handful of other protestors have to do something other than pantomime leadership, as the passionate, but more or less orderly, character of the protests is threatening to break.

The arrests have been happening for about an hour now, but it's not at all settled what the reaction from the protestors should be. The Occupy Wall Street movement has repeatedly expressed its dedication to nonviolence, and the Chicago branch-unlike, say, in New York-has generally had a good relationship with the police. But as the full paddy wagons drive off, a group of about twenty people is chanting, "This is what a police state looks like!"

When a city bus pulls up to take away the remainder of the arrested protesters, a buzz runs through our side of the street. Some people want to block the bus, form a line of bodies so it can't leave.

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Mechanics / Comments (3)

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Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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