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Trayvon Martin
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:54pm
Wed Aug 14

ALEC Sends Durbin Letter Containing Phony Signatures, According To ProgressNow

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has started a probe into the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) regarding the conservative group's role in promoting controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws, which helped to shield George Zimmerman in Florida after he shot and killed unarmed African-American teen Trayvon Martin

Following Zimmerman's acquittal last month, Durbin announced plans to hold hearings on Stand Your Ground laws. Last week, the congressman sent letters to some 300 corporate ALEC donors, in which the senator wrote he was "seeking clarification whether organizations that have funded ALEC’s operations in the past currently support ALEC and the model ‘stand your ground’ legislation.”

ALEC fired back on Monday and sent Durbin a letter, which was supposedly signed by 293 of its member legislators, calling the Senator's recent efforts "political intimidation."

The progressive organization ProgressNow fact-checked the letter, and according to its analysis, 55 of the signatures are either fake or duplicated. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:56pm
Fri Aug 9

Northern Illinois Light Brigade Puts ALEC In The Spotlight

A few dozen activists and members of the Northern Illinois Light Brigade gathered near the Palmer House Hilton Thursday evening in an effort to shine some light, literally, on the pro-corporate and conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Thursday was day two of ALEC's 40th annual three-day conference, which is being held at the downtown hotel this week.

The light brigade illuminated large letter signs that read "Fight To End ALEC," and other slogans. The signs drew attention from curious people on the street as well as looks from likely ALEC members as they made their way in and out of the Palmer House.

Activist Bill Weiss, a Kirkland, Illinois resident, said ALEC creates legislation that hurts average people while filling the pockets of big corporations.

"As long as ALEC is allowed to continue to write our laws for us, they’re never going to be laws for the people," Weiss said. "They're always going to be laws for the corporations, and we can’t let that happen.” Read more »

PI Original
by Ashlee Rezin
6:34pm
Thu Aug 8

Hundreds Protest ALEC's Conservative Agenda In Chicago: 'Get Out Of Our City' (VIDEO)

Hundreds of protesters pushed back against 40 years of “greedy, right-wing billionaires imposing their will on the masses” Thursday during the second day of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) annual conference in Chicago. Progress Illinois was there for the action.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:00pm
Thu Aug 8

Report: Hundreds Of ALEC Bills Introduced This Year Promote A Corporate Agenda

In the first six months of 2013, 466 pieces of ALEC-backed legislation promoting the agenda of “polluters, privatizers, and profiteers” were introduced in statehouses across the country, according to a report released Thursday by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Progress Illinois takes a closer look at ALEC and the legislation for which it advocates.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
3:38pm
Wed Aug 7

Protesters Stage 'Die-In' Against Stand Your Ground Laws Outside Of ALEC Conference (VIDEO)

On the first day of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) annual conference in Chicago, nearly 100 activists staged a “die-in” at the meeting's doors to protest the powerful right-wing policy group’s promotion of controversial Stand Your Ground gun laws.

“Stand Your Ground? I call them the ‘Shoot First Laws,’” said Carl Gibson, 26, co-founder of U.S. Uncut and participant in Wednesday’s action. “It’s not really standing your ground, it’s just a shoot first, ask questions later law and it enabled George Zimmerman to get away with murdering a child.”

ALEC is hosting its 40th national conference from August 7 to August 9 at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago and, upset with the organization’s conservative agenda and impact on legislation, protesters kicked off a series of rallies and protests to be held throughout the week.

On Wednesday, as members of ALEC filtered into the hotel and prepared for the first day of the conference, roughly 80 protesters from a plethora of local grassroots organizations, such as Stand Up! Chicago and Action Now, “died” outside of the hotel’s lobby.

“ALEC is here today to push Stand Your Ground laws all across our nation. Do we want that,” asked Shani Smith, 38, a project organizer with Stand Up! Chicago, who participated in Wednesday's demonstration. “We are here today to stand up to ALEC and let them know that we will no longer allow them to terrorize working families.” Read more »

PI Original
by Ashlee Rezin
11:18am
Mon Jul 22

Thousands Gather In Chicago To Demand 'Justice For Trayvon' In National Day Of Action (VIDEO)

Roughly 6,000 protesters gathered in downtown Chicago Saturday to demand justice for slain African American teen Trayvon Martin. One week after neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was found not guilty for murdering the unarmed 17 year-old, demonstrators gathered for “Justice for Trayvon” rallies across the country to call for a more balanced criminal justice system. Progress Illinois was outside of Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Building for the action.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
2:33pm
Tue Jul 16

'Justice Was Not Served For Trayvon Martin' Say Chicago Protesters (VIDEO)

“I could have been Trayvon Martin,” said Whitney Clark, 22, a lifelong Chicagoan and graduate of Southern Illinois University.

In response to Saturday’s news of George Zimmerman’s acquittal of all charges in the Florida shooting death of unarmed African American teen Trayvon Martin, Clark organized a Monday night rally and march on Chicago’s South Side.

Chanting “Stop the Violence”, a 20-person demonstration quickly escalated and turned into a march of more than 200 people as outrage and disappointment in the judicial system drew protesters to the streets of Washington Park.

“We are here because of injustice, because of unfair treatment, because of a devaluing of life,” said Clark, who addressed participants of Monday’s protest with tears in her eyes. “Trayvon Martin, and so many others, are dying without justice being served on their behalf. The verdict of the Zimmerman case screams injustice.” Read more »