Using the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday as a catalyst, Occupy Chicago and a coalition of African American religious leaders kicked off a week of events yesterday, calling on Congress to pass legislation that will create jobs and revenue as well as provide "real relief" for homeowners facing foreclosure. Some 1,500 people attended the event at The People's Church, including state and federal politicians like U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-9) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2).
“Our Democracy is being high jacked by the wealthy elite, large banks, and corporations who now control elections,” said keynote speaker Reverend Dwight Gardner, who is a pastor from Dr. King’s Progressive Baptist denomination. “Inequality in this nation, the gap between the haves and the have not’s, continues to grow. And only a few, that 1% so aptly named by the Occupy Movement, are benefiting at the expense of the rest of us. This is not acceptable.”
Organizers used the event as an opportunity to get politicians to commit to fighting for desirable legislation in Springfield and Washington. Schakowsky and Jackson Jr. pledged to push for infrastructure and jobs bills as well as a financial speculation tax and a millionaire's tax. State Sen. Heather Steans (D-7), along with State Reps. Robyn Gabel (D-18) and Kelly Cassidy (D-14) committed to fight for a progressive tax structure in Illinois and against attempts to revert corporate taxes.
“The number of people who turned out today to pledge to work for change gives me great hope that we can finally create a progressive tax system progressive tax system and raise the revenue to provides services to the people of the state of Illinois,” said Cassidy.
The Occupy the Dream week of events will address foreclosures on Tuesday with two marches. On Wednesday, the movement plans to take their protest on the road with an action in Gary, Indiana and Thursday, a South Side vacant foreclosed property is set to be given to a homeless family. Occupy the Dream week is being organized by Make Wall Street Pay Illinois, Occupy Chicago, as well as IIRON and its related organizations Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), Northside P.O.W.E.R., the Northwest Indiana Federation, and the IIRON Student Network.