CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of people filled Chicago Temple for a “Move the Money” town hall meeting Thursday night, and then marched to LaSalle and Jackson Streets, to join and show support for Occupy Chicago protesters.
During the two-hour town hall meeting, the standing-room-only crowd heard from activists on such issues as housing, foreclosure and eviction, healthcare, education and the nation’s wars.
One theme kept recurring, voiced succinctly by James Tidwell of the Chicago Charter Teachers Association.
“No, we are not broke,” he said. “We need to change the ways we are prioritizing our needs as a country.”
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Among those featured prominently onstage at Chicago Temple was U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), whose presence prompted one reporter to ask if the Democrats were trying to take control of the Occupy movement and similar groups.
Schakowsky said that’s not her goal.
“It is generally not a political (movement) right now, in terms of partisan politics, so I just want to voice my support and (see) if we can be helpful in any way or just stand in solidarity,” she said.
Then, when the reporter noted that many Democrats take money from Wall Street, the crowd cheered when she fired back, “And a lot of Democrats don’t take money from Wall Street.”
Speaker after speaker railed against the spending priorities of the past two administrations, one person saying that the United States paid for two wars “with a credit card,” and another saying that the banks the Obama administration bailed out have done little to ease the misery of Americans forced into foreclosure.
Rene Luna, a disabled veteran, said from his wheelchair that the treatment he gets is often insulting.
“They’re cutting our services,” he said. “Basically, what they’re telling us is that we’re expendable.”
Nurse Dennis Kosuth said he is tired of telling patients in the emergency room of John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County that certain treatment or services are not immediately available.
“Why should I have to apologize for something I didn’t make, something that they made, and they want us to feel bad for the way that we’re living right now,” he said. “This is the richest country in the history of humanity, but they never have money for jobs, for healthcare, for education, but they always find money for war, for tax cuts for the rich and tax breaks for the corporations. so that’s why I don’t believe them when they say there’s not enough money to go around, and to help people who need it.”
Kosuth and other speakers said “Move the Money, the Occupy movement and their allies are prodding average Americans, and Congress, to refocus.