Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=190191
Story Retrieval Date: 3/8/2014 7:07:30 PM CST
David J. Unger/MEDILL
About 19 people were reportedly arrested Tuesday during protests at two different locations in downtown Chicago, according to a preliminary estimate by the Chicago Police Department.
Police officials said late Tuesday that no formal charges have been filed as
the detainees are still being processed.
The arrests were made at two protests being staged this week by Take Back Chicago, a coalition of community and labor organizations whose aim is to “reclaim our lost jobs, stop the unfair foreclosures and make sure our schools get the resources they need to prepare our children for a brighter future,” according to the group’s website.
Protesters with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation were detained after occupying a pedestrian walkway connecting two parts of the Hyatt Regency Chicago hotel. The sit-in was in protest of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention being held at the hotel.
Demonstrators blocked the street underneath the walkway, held signs and announced a list of demands that included raising taxes on the rich, closing tax loopholes, and increasing small-business lending, said the Rev. Michael Russell, vice president of SOUL.
Five women between the ages of 55 and 80 were detained about an hour later inside the Bank of America at LaSalle and Jackson, according to Action Now, the organization behind the protest.
The women entered the bank and emptied small bags of trash onto the interior
window sills as demonstrators cheered on from outside. Additional bags of trash,
including pieces of discarded furniture were placed on the sidewalk outside the
Aileen Kelleher, communications coordinator for Action Now, said the trash was collected from a foreclosed home at 3328 W. Monroe St., which the group says is owned by Bank of America. The group accuses the bank of failing to comply with a recently passed city ordinance that requires vacant sites be adequately maintained by their owners.
Diane Wagner, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, wrote in an email that the bank regularly oversees properties it owns. "We also service properties that are not owned by the bank, which is the case in this instance," she added in response to accusations made by Action Now.
"Today was the first time we were made aware that the owner may no longer be occupying the property and that it may now be vacant," Wagner wrote. "We are taking immediate action."
As of press time, calls to the Mortgage Bankers Association were not returned.