In the wake of an undecided election, Chicagoans gather to ‘Defend Every Vote’

Masked Chicagoans gather to "defend the vote" downtown at Daley Plaza. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)

By Allison Schatz
Medill Reports

After a summer of intense clashes between the Chicago Police Department and protesters, the post-election rally and march to “Defend Every Vote” was without incident for both protesters and police.

Attendees gathered in downtown Chicago, at Daley Plaza, at the feet of Picasso’s imposing metal sculpture, to make their voices heard on myriad issues that were critical to them in this heated election. From a fair wage to racial justice, from court appointees to a woman’s right to choose, everyone present was there to demand that every vote be counted. Tuesday’s general election was anything but decisive, and as the week unfurled, Americans became increasingly restless to know the winner.

Just a day after the general election, a group of over 1,000 gathers at Daley Plaza, in downtown Chicago and demands that every vote be counted. The event is held as the election results are not yet known,
and with the intention of expressing support for the slow and steady vote count process that is taking place in key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
Billed as “Defend the Election Rally,” the event was organized by the Illinois Election Defense Action Council, and was co-hosted by many Chicago-area groups, including Black Lives Matter Chicago, Chicago Teachers Union, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Arab American Action Network and more. The event is part of a larger national effort to support the continued fair count of all votes cast in the general election. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
Drums beat and crowds chant “Black Lives Matter,” “This is what democracy looks like,” and “Our streets, our city” as bike police close off Michigan Avenue so protesters can turn and head north down the Magnificent Mile. Cars honk and onlookers cheer as the crowds move through the streets. As protesters march down Michigan Avenue and turn onto Wacker Drive, heading toward Trump Tower, the crowd expresses frustration and anger at President Donald Trump. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
“Equity or else” is just one of the many messages being relayed at Wednesday’s rally for the vote. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
In the wake of a summer that saw peaceful protests disrupted by looters, Mayor Lightfoot announced she would significantly increase police presence the week of the general election. Many officers are on bikes, while others are on foot, or in nearby vans. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
When protesters arrive at the Wabash bridge, beside Trump Tower, they find the bridge has been raised. City officials raised the bridge Tuesday night as a “precautionary measure,” according to Mary May, the Chicago spokeswoman for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. The city has raised the bridge several times this year in response to both protests and looting in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and other instances of police brutality. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
In July 2020, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown formed the Critical Incident Response Team, comprised of 250 officers. In a statement concerning its role, CPD Cmdr. Michael Pigott noted their role is to “protect the residents and the visitors that come to the downtown area or any area in the city that are here to peacefully express their views or enjoy a ballgame or a festival.” (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
Masked protestors fill the streets carrying signs that convey their displeasure with President
Donald Trump and his administration. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
A protester holds a red flag aloft and leads the way for marchers. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
A protester wheels a mock guillotine through the streets as part of the march. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)
Chicago police officers don riot gear as the mood tenses. At several points tensions simmered between both police and activists, and even between the activists themselves.
Despite the tensions, there were no arrests or injuries. (Allison Schatz/MEDILL)

Allison Schatz is a Social Justice & Investigative Reporter at Medill. You can follow her on Twitter at @AllisonSchatz8.