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More arrests on 2nd day of protests

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In Chicago, more than a dozen people have been arrested in protests aimed at the banking and mortgage industries.

Tuesday's protests were far smaller but no less opinionated than the one that drew about 3,000 people Monday. There were also more orchestrated arrests as demonstrators protested everything from foreclosures to financial greed.

The protesters' rage was once again directed at a meeting of mortgage bankers and futures traders at the Chicago Hyatt Regency Hotel. Police hauled away a few people who tried to put up signs inside the hotel.

"The mortgage bankers, Wall Street and others are hording trillions of idle wealth. This is money that could be used for vital social services, that could be used for job creation," said protestor Toby Chow.

"When they got bailed out, the presumption was they were going to make loans more accessible and do things to benefit the community. The truth is none of that has happened," said Rev. Booker Vance with the South Side Organization for Unity & Liberation.

Outside Bank of America's office on LaSalle, there were more protests and more arrests. This group dumped furniture and garbage bags outside the bank. They claim it was litter from foreclosed properties in the Englewood neighborhood the bank is neglecting. Bank of America officials say it regularly maintains vacant homes and lots. The protesters said that's not so.

"We found open doors and windows, trash, drug paraphernalia and more," said Charles Brown, an Engelwood resident and Action Now board member.

While the demonstrations may look organic or chaotic, they are in fact carefully choreographed events. Some protests used some of the same chants as protestors did during Chicago's deadly 1968 riots, but these demonstrations are dramatically different.

During Monday night's march, for example, a swarm of people in yellow vests are the protestors' version of parade marshals. They work with police to keep the order.

At one point, one organizer loaned a police officer his bullhorn to warn a dozen or so people staging a sit-in that they were about to be arrested. A minute or two later, officers gingerly helped protestors to their feet and a waiting citation.

Some, after all, "want" to be arrested because that makes news. Just before Tuesday's protest in the Financial District, for instance, Action Now sent an alert to the media promising visuals of mothers ages 55 to 80 years old being arrested.

As we've seen in New York, a controlled protest can quickly turn violent. Demonstrator Christopher Friday, 25, of Alabama, was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer. He allegedly punched an officer. He is scheduled to be in bond court Tuesday.

Additionally, a Chicago police spokesperson says the department has not brought in extra manpower and has only incurred minimal overtime costs due to all of the recent protests.

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