Chicago — It’s an unseasonably warm December 4 evening and a crowd of about 500 people, some wearing knitted pussy hats and recycled signs from previous rallies, are gathered at the plaza in front of the Chicago Board of Trade. Two days earlier the Senate passed its version of the GOP’s tax plan, which gives lavish tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
“Everyone I talk to in my church and in my seminary community is terrified of what this bill and other pieces of legislation mean for us,” says Samantha Nichols, a 24-year-old seminary student who attended the event.
Nichols wore her clerical collar under a grey coat as she marched in the December 4 protest. With almost $50,000 in debt and one year left on her parents’ health insurance, she worries both about her future and that of the parishioners at the Bridgeport church where she is a vicar.
In the city that launched Barack Obama, home to one of the most diverse and most segregated urban populations in the country, street protests have become both an expression of popular outrage and a chance for political attention. Notice of Chicago’s protest against the GOP tax plan was posted online December 2 by The People’s Lobby and co-hosted by a dozen other organizations. By December 4, around 700 people had RSVP’d on Facebook.
Hundreds of rallies and protests have erupted around the country as the GOP tax bill made its way out of the Senate committee. Last Wednesday, graduate students at more than 40 university campuses walked out of class, and protesters took to the streets around the country as the bill made its way out of the Senate Budget Committee. According to Indivisible, dozens more rallies and events are planned this week in California, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan.
At the Chicago protest, the crowd chanted, “Love thy neighbor as thyself! Tax the rich and share the wealth!” One man held a sign illustrated with a pitchfork.