A Fourth of July block party planned in front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house isn't your average potato salad and hamburgers affair.
Community activists plan to converge on Emanuel's block Thursday to protest budget cuts to public services and "speak out against these austerity measures and celebrate citywide resistance to his mayorship."
As of Wednesday morning, nearly 400 had signed up on the group's Facebook page to attend the noon gathering at nearby Chase Park and following block party on the 4200 block of Hermitage.
The event, the group says, will include music, dancing, and speakers.
"At a time when working people are already struggling to make ends meet, Mayor Emanuel is eliminating thousands of jobs across the city every year," event organizer Greg Goodman said.
Goodman said Emanuel is systematically dismantling social programs that residents rely on and selling public institutions to corporate profiteers.
Austerity was a word used after the Board of Education voted to close 50 public schools. Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis called the move unfair and even racist, noting that most schools marked for closure are in African-American and low-income communities.
Emanuel said the move was the best thing for students, saying that taking no action would mean far greater consequences.
"I know this is incredibly difficult, but I firmly believe the most important thing we can do as a city is provide the next generation with a brighter future," he said.
Last month, more than 850 Chicago Public Schools teachers and staffers at closing and turnaround schools were laid off. Up to 420 teachers from closing schools received pink slips, along with 110 teacher assistants and 133 bus aides and part-time seasonal employees.
"People who are barely getting by are being punished for the mistakes of the super-rich," organizer Kelly Hayes said. "That's what austerity is. We're going to let Mayor Emanuel know we didn't create this crisis, and we're not going to pay for it."