Members of the Chicago branch of the Occupy Wall Street protests, Occupy Chicago, met in Pilsen Nov. 22 for a special general assembly to discuss neighborhood issues and plans for upcoming actions. Protesters originally gathered at the Chicago Public Library Rudy Lozano branch but moved to the nearby public square at 18th Street and Blue Island once the library closed for the night.
Representatives from Occupy Phoenix and P.E.R.R.O, the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, spoke at the assembly. Every sentence at the assembly that was spoken in English was immediately translated into Spanish by Crystal Vance Guerra, a 23-year-old from South Chicago involved in several branches of the Occupy Chicago movement.
The representatives from Occupy Phoenix talked to the group about an upcoming day of action aimed against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). On Nov. 30, members of Occupy Phoenix and other Occupy movements will gather to protest at the ALEC States & Policy Summit that will be held in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Ezra Kaplan of Occupy Phoenix described ALEC as “a massive non-profit body that brings corporations and legislators together to draft model legislation. It was instrumental in finalizing the legislation that became Arizona’s SB-1070, the controversial law that allows law enforcement to stop and check the immigration status of anyone they suspect might be an illegal immigrant, she said.
“I’m here today on behalf of Occupy Phoenix to invite Occupy Chicago and all other Occupys that are going on in the Chicago area to join us in solidarity,” Kaplan said. “Our vision is that on Nov. 30, there are actions happening all across the nation targeting ALEC and letting them know that we will not stand for this.”
Several individuals present at the assembly got up in front of the group to speak about their reactions to Kaplan’s invitation. One individual suggested that the group find someone in Chicago who knows a lot about ALEC, so they can organize a teach-in on Nov. 30 instead of a march.
Jerry Mead-Lucero of P.E.R.R.O also spoke to the group about another march that will be held on Dec. 10.
“The concept of this march is to denounce corporate greed and corporate power, with a specific focus in this case on some really bad examples of corporate greed and corporate power,” Mead-Lucero explained. “Namely, Midwest Generation and Edison International, which own the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants here in Chicago.”
Mead-Lucero said that the march will start with a rally and lead to a march down 18th Street, up to Halsted, to Jackson and LaSalle, the corporate headquarters of Midwest Generation in the Board of Trade building. “We’d like Occupy Chicago to be a part of this, to endorse it, and to help us organize for this,” he said. “Dec. 10 is Human Rights Day, which meshes with the idea that breathing clean air is a human right.”
Before the assembly came to a close, the group voted on two proposals: The proposal to hold a rally and march in conjunction with Occupy Arizona’s ALEC march, and the proposal to support P.E.R.R.O’s march on Dec. 10. Both proposals passed.
“This is a city of neighborhoods, and it’s also a city of severe segregation between the neighborhoods, and we’re breaking those down,” Vance Guerra said. “To occupy, to occupy everywhere, is unite. We need to address all of the people, and the only way we can address all of them is if we all come together, each with our own experiences, our own skills, our own knowledge, and we share them and really build something new.”