With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Friday, March 30, 2012

In D.C. with an eye on Chicago

I'm in D.C. for the Occupy the DOE events. I don't speak until Monday so I'm taking in the other presentations and will be reporting on some of them as time allows.

Occupiers should find strength and solidarity vibes floating in from Spain where there's a general strike and where nearly a million protesters are demanding an end to austerity and budget cuts from Madrid to the Basque country.

Meanwhile back in Chicago, I see that the mayor persists in his denial of First Amendment rights to those who want to demonstrate their opposition to NATO's war machine next month. He continues to defend his refusal to allow a march in the Loop on the first day of the NATO Summit, claiming police will be too busy with all the motorcades for visiting delegates.  Of course there's noting in the Constitution allowing for suspension of free speech because the police are "too busy."

 However the real thing keeping them busy in the city's free-fire zones is an epidemic of gun violence. Last night alone there were 13 shot and 2 killed within 6 hours on city streets, all of them between the ages of 16 and 24.

Conditions of life for inner-city youth continue to worsen. The costs are high. Joblessness, easy access to guns, instability caused in so small measure by continued school closings and teacher firings, and growing poverty all contribute to the crisis. 

So far, Emanuel has had no problem in raising $36.5 million from his rich, powerful friends to pay for all the bells and whistles around the NATO Summit. But still no money in sight to pay for lost teaching positions or schools in general. The mayor will say that by bringing this up, we are just making excuses for falling test scores. Is anybody buying that?

Welcome to Chicago, NATO protesters. 

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