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Chicago Protest Takes Over LaSalle Street Bridge

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Demonstrators briefly blocked the LaSalle Street Bridge in downtown Chicago Thursday. (CBS)

Demonstrators briefly blocked the LaSalle Street Bridge in downtown Chicago Thursday. (CBS)

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Updated 11/17/11 – 9:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Hundreds of Occupy Chicago protesters took to the streets in downtown Chicago during Thursday’s rush hour, marching against corporate greed and economic inequality.

More than 1,000 protesters — a combination of Occupy Chicago members and members of a group calling itself Stand Up Chicago — shut down the LaSalle Street Bridge around 4 p.m. as part of their demonstration. By about 4:40 p.m., police were telling the protesters to leave the bridge.

A few dozen protesters were led away from the bridge by police officers after sitting down on the roadway.

Police said that none of those protesters were arrested. Instead, 46 protesters were issued “administrative notices of violations” – essentially meaning they were ticketed for blocking the bridge. They were not taken to jail.

A few minutes after those demonstrators were led away from the bridge, the other protesters began marching south on LaSalle Street through the Financial District, planning to eventually make their way to Grant Park. A smaller crowd of demonstrators met at the Thompson Center plaza later Thursday evening to cap off the day’s events.

While on the bridge, a few of the protesters spoke out about their mission.

“The cuts that the (Congressional deficit-cutting) super committee are considering right now and the impact that would have on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, it’s just unconscionable and we’re on this bridge today to show that we need to invest in infrastructure, rebuild our country and put people back to work,” protester E.J. Serrano said.

Fellow protester Ashley Bohrer said, “I’m out here because there are more foreclosed houses in this city than there are homeless people and that’s a travesty. I’m out here because everyone deserves free access to education, a safe place to sleep at night, access to decent food, water and health care.”

After leaving the bridge, the protesters stopped again on their march to Grant Park when they reached the Chicago Board of Trade building at LaSalle and Jackson.

While there, protesters pushed their way past police barricades on Jackson, taking over that street for about 10 minutes.

Shortly before 6 p.m., they began making their way north on LaSalle Street, then east on Monroe Street past Federal Plaza, then south on State Street to eventually go to Grant Park.

Police were putting up rolling roadblocks as protesters made their way toward through the Loop in an attempt to keep the disruption of traffic to a minimum.

Earlier, protesters rallied outside the Thompson Center before starting their march through downtown.

“The country has been taken over by big corporations and the working people and the poor people and the minorities have to take back power,” protester Lenore Wolf said during a rally outside the Thompson Center.

“There are children, seniors and people with disabilities who need help now,” another protester said.

“The unemployment rate for veterans returning is almost a third higher than the national average, that is shameful,” veteran Will Attick said. “We all put our combat boots on when our country asked us to. Now give us a new pair of boots – work boots.”

Also on Thursday, Occupy Wall Street protesters took part in a national day of action, clogging streets near the New York Stock Exchange. Police arrested 177 demonstrators in New York.

Thursday marked exactly two months since the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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