CHICAGO (WBBM) — Eleven protesters were arrested when they blocked a busy Loop street at the height of the Friday evening rush hour.

All were charged with disorderly conduct.

Those arrested were part of a protest outside the James R. Thompson Center against budget cuts approved by the U.S. House, WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

On the Thompson Center plaza, Michelle Young of the group Action Now was telling protesters that thousands of Illinois families cannot afford to lose federal assistance in paying their heating bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP.

“They want to take almost $2 billion from the LIHEAP program,” she said.  “This may sound like a lot of money but when you look at the entire budget of the United States, it’s more like pennies.”  

As Young spoke, a group broke away from the back of the ground and blocked the crosswalk on Clark Street at Randolph and stayed put for 20 minutes until police began to lead them away in handcuffs.  One of those arrested was in a wheelchair.

Others chanted, and a small band played at the corner of Clark and Randolph as police tried to reopen Clark Street. 

“The cuts to working families, low-income families and elderly are unacceptable when there’s plenty of room in the budget for tax cuts for the rich and for defense spending,” said protester Sara Mathers, of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization, as she watched the arrests. 

The protest quickly broke up once Clark was reopened, shortly after 5:30 p.m., but many of the protesters chanted, saying, “We’ll be back,” as they left.

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