About 400 protesters marched yesterday through downtown Chicago from 3 different starting points converging at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, 200 E. Randolph.
The Chicago Police were in attendance as well with about 30 officers on bicycles, in cars and on foot. There were no interactions between the peaceful crowds and the police. The cops even met with organizers before the rally to decide were best to place the pick up truck stage and where to gather the crowd at the Aon building's front courtyard.
The protesters were asking for a raise in the minimum wage. Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage. The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 and the national level is $7.25 for states that haven't enacted their own increase. Washington State has the highest minimum in the U.S. at $9.04.
"We can't survive on $8.25," was the chant heard loud and clear throughout the gathering. Members of many local groups participated in the protest including:
- Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
- Arise Chicago
- Stand Up Chicago
- Chicago Teacher's Union (CTU)
- Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
- Illinois Hunger Coalition
- Occupy Chicago
- National Lawyers Guild (as observers)
There were speeches from leaders and members of a few of the groups which clearly communicated that no one can support themselves much less raise a family with a full time job on minimum wage.
The protested ended with a play act from Aloft Circus Arts in which they set up a limbo bar complete with accompanying Caribbean rhythm on the loudspeakers. Members of the troop were dressed half as members of an elite class with a top hatted ringleader and the other half as commoners. When the elitists did the limbo, the bar was set high, even over there heads. When the commoners did the limbo, the bar came down lower and lower, just about crushing them.
The goal of the protest is to raise the bar for everyone.