24 Arrested in Downtown Rally

Demonstrators say "corporate welfare" has robbed public schools of funding

Two dozen people were peacefully arrested Tuesday after sitting in the middle of a downtown street during rush hour as part of a rally to protest the bank bailouts and tax breaks they say have robbed schools of public funding, hurt the creation of new jobs and diminished the hope of struggling homeowners.

Under an umbrella organization called "Stand Up! Chicago," 18 different community groups and labor unions held three different rallies that converged into one outside the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where a conference of corporate Chief Executive Officers was being held.

"Instead of investing in our community, instead of investing and creating jobs, they chose to pay their CFOs and CEOs over a billion dollars, and the folks that were out here today just don't think that's fair," said E.J. Serrano, the organization director for Stand Up! Chicago.  

Serrano was among those arrested and ticketed with civil disobedience after blocking traffic on Stetson Avenue.

With a $720 million deficit at the Chicago Public Schools, the demonstrators said the "corporate welfare" needs to stop.

"What we're doing right now is basically asking them to give it back," said Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis.

Roughly 1,000 demonstrators got their message out with chants, puppets, placards and a white banner dropped from the Trump Tower which carried the words, "CFOs, You're Fired."

For the CTU, the rally sets the stage for another fight on Wednesday, when the new school board deals with a proposed longer school day and contractually-obligated four percent teacher pay raises.

"I don't believe in slavery on any level. I don't believe we should work for free.  Ever.  And we're not going to," said Lewis.

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