Chicago activists rally in Refuse Fascism march

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Approximately 50 people gathered in Federal Plaza Saturday afternoon to rally with activist group Refuse Fascism’s Chicago chapter in protest of Trump administration policies. During “In the Name of Humanity, Trump/Pence Must Go!” the group denounced the administration and urged people to speak out against what they see as the development of fascism in America.

After the rally, protesters marched to Trump Tower and gathered across the river from the building, carrying signs with slogans such as “This Nightmare Must End.”

Refuse Fascism groups marched in other cities Saturday including Cleveland, New York and San Francisco.

In between chants such as “In the name of humanity, we refuse a fascist America,” speakers encouraged others to mobilize. But pedestrians passing by showed mixed reactions to the group, with expressions of support and criticism.

“It’s not a political game. …This is not red versus blue.”” said Ted Sirota, a member of Refuse Fascism Chicago. “We say at Refuse Fascism — Humanity First, not ‘America First.'”

One of the speakers at the rally, Mark Masi, founded a chapter of Refuse Fascism in suburban Arlington Heights. Masi said he joined Refuse Fascism after the hearings for the nominations of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh spurred him to action. He said he found the group shared his concerns about the current state of politics.

Masi said he is concerned for America’s future.

“We have someone in power who’s acting above the Constitution [and] trying to act around the laws [while] stirring up people against certain groups,” he said.

He said he believes voting is not enough, even after a “blue wave.”

“The concern is when we see fascism, it can come in through normal processes. [It] often takes more than normal processes to get it out, to get people to really influence Congress and politicians,” he said. “We’re influencing those watching us [in] the country [and] the world, but also those sitting in Congress to act more quickly.”

As the protesters marched up State Street, they paused several times to give people in the protest a chance to speak and to pass out flyers to curious passers-by. As the group approached the ABC7 building, they stopped to discuss Trump’s attacks on the media.

Along the route of the march, protesters shared their reasons for organizing. Marge Parsons, a volunteer with Refuse Fascism, said she had had enough of the recent violence in the United States.

“And you can see it just in the past week[s], you know, people murdered in a synagogue. Black people murdered in Kentucky [and Trump] sending troops to the [Mexican] border. How much worse does it have to get?” she asked.

“The people can stop it. I’m a veteran of the 60s. We forced Nixon to resign,” Parsons said. “It can be done, but it takes people getting out of their comfort zones and into the streets.”

Photo at top: Activist Lucha Bright (center) from Revolution Club Chicago chants while marching up State Street during Saturday’s protest. (Katie Rice/MEDILL)