PI Original Josh Kalven Wednesday April 21st, 2010, 11:49am

"Save Our State" Rally Swarms Springfield (VIDEOS & PHOTOS)

Over 10,000 protesters descended on downtown Springfield on April 21 as part of the Responsible Budget Coalition's Save Our State Rally.  Below is our full coverage.

The Responsible Budget Coalition's "Save Our State" rally is underway in Springfield, where  thousands of teachers, students, state workers, health care providers, and concerned citizens have gathered in support of a sustainable solution to the state budget crisis.  We'll be uploading pictures and videos throughout the day, so check back often.

12:10 p.m: Educators of all stripes are present at the rally today, from kindergarten teachers to university professors.  Below is a brief interview with John Miller, who teaches at Western Illinois University and says that he's seeing the state budget crisis start "to impact the quality of education" at his institution:

12:25 p.m.: We also spoke with Ashley, a child care provider from Freeport, who emphasized that if the agency she works for goes under because of state funding cuts, it won't just affect her employment but also that of the parents who rely on her services:

12:40: Here are a few more pics from before the rally this morning:

(Photo credit: Heather Stone)

12:55 p.m.: We caught up with State Rep. David Miller, as he observed the growing crowd from the capitol steps.  A longtime support of House Bill 174 -- the revenue option supported by the Responsible Budget Coalition and its members -- he told us that "many legislators have not seen a rally of this magnitude," adding: "This is not just a city of Chicago problem, or a Cook County problem.  It's a statewide problem."

1:35 p.m.: After the rally, the protestors headed into the state capitol.  On their way there, they chanted "Raise our taxes! Raise our taxes!"

2:05 p.m.: Some more photographs from the rally and march, starting off with one of SEIU Healthcare IL/IN President Keith Kelleher addressing the crowd. (Full disclosure: SEIU Illinois sponsors this website.)

(Photo credit: Heather Stone)

2:25 p.m.: From the Tribune:

A spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White estimated the rally crowd at 15,000, with more than 12,000 marching around the building. That would appear to make it the largest Capitol protest since the Equal Rights Amendment crowds a quarter-century ago.

2:40 p.m.: Before the protestors had reached the statehouse, we caught up with State Rep. Will Burns (D-Chicago) who was encouraged by the rally's geographic diversity:

3:10 p.m.: A few photos from the action inside the statehouse:

(Photo credit: Heather Stone)

3:30 p.m.: Our favorite t-shirt of the day:

3:45 p.m.: And here's some video from inside the statehouse, with protestors chanting: "Show some spine, show some guts!  Now's the time to stop the cuts!"

Towards the end of the rally, Denver Bitner, president of Lutheran Social Services of Chicago, reminded everyone that "human services are about human beings."  He then brought Deanna Martinez to the stage, who recalled how a state-subsidized addiction treatment program saved her life.  Watch her remarks:

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