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Nurses March To Daley Plaza To Rally For ‘The 99 Percent’

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Members of the nurses union rally in Daley Plaza on Friday. (Credit: Mason Johnson/CBS Chicago)

Members of the nurses union rally in Daley Plaza on Friday. (Credit: Mason Johnson/CBS Chicago)

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UPDATED 05/18/12 3:30 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS)–Nurses from Chicago and across the country held a contained, peaceful rally Friday at Daley Plaza over the initial concerns of city officials who are hosting this weekend’s NATO summit.

The protest, which drew an estimated 1,000 people, was organized by National Nurses United, which wants NATO to pay more attention to health care needs around the world.

It was festive from the beginning, with record music and dancing, CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports. Just after noon, a series of speeches ridiculed President Obama’s decision to move the G8 summit from Chicago to Camp David.

Participants called for higher taxes on the rich and on Wall Street. Musician Tom Morello, a Chicago area native, who ridiculed the Emanuel administration’s fears that the event would be devolve into violence. Morello played guitar and sang protest songs.

“I would never do anything to harm her (Chicago) or encourage anyone to harm her,” Morello told the crowd.

At least one demonstrator – a protester dressed from head to toe in black – was arrested on the periphery of the event and led away by police. Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said there were no protests at the actual rally.


LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

Some 1,000 nurses, along with some Occupy Chicago protesters, marched in solidarity, clad in red scrubs and green Robin Hood hats. They were calling for what is known as a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street, which they say could help heal the economy.

The tax would involve taking money from Wall Street banks and returning it to the public.

“We bailed them out. As nurses, we are concerned because our patients are doing without medication. They do not have jobs. We bailed out Wall Street. It’s time for them to give back to us,” said Dorothy Higgins, a nurse from Half Moon Bay, Calif.

As the rally began, somebody placed a sticker on the base of the Picasso that had the acronym TTFRA: Tax The F—— Rich Already.

picasso sticker Nurses March To Daley Plaza To Rally For The 99 Percent

This sticker was placed on the Picasso on Friday. It says TTFRA: Tax The F—— Rich Already. (Credit: Mason Johnson/CBS Chicago)

Some of the nurses carried signs calling for “an economy for the 99 percent,” which would offer health care for all, jobs with dignity, quality public education, and a healthy environment.

“I’ve been nursing over 30 years, and I’ve never seen the country this bad,” Higgins said. “The movement is definitely building up steam. We are fired up, and we are going to take this country back from Wall Street. We want our money back.”

Dozens of Chicago Police officers and Illinois State troopers were on the scene, some of them blocking traffic at Washington and Dearborn streets. Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was also seen on the plaza, observing the rally.

The Emanuel administration earlier had revoked the nurses’ rally permit, saying organizers did not mention a concert in their application, and tried to steer to event to Grant Park. The city reached a compromise with the union that kept the event in the Loop.

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