'Occupy the Dream' for MLK Jr.'s birthday
Published: Monday, January 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Yellow school busses lined the slushy street of Lawrence Avenue January 15 as supporters of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Occupy movement trailed the sidewalks outside The People's Church for the event, "Occupy the Dream."
In light of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, organizers, political officials and community leaders flooded into the three-floor congregation to rally for jobs, housing and economic equality.
"Our economics and our politics are broken. Our democracy has been hijacked by the wealthy elite. Powers with the capacity to buy our government away from us … It's time to wake up. It's time for a revolution. We are the 99 percent!" said the Rev. Dwight Gardner, president of the Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations.
"Today we launch a series of initiatives and actions to begin occupying the dream," said the Rev. Yehiel Curry, SOUL Clergy Caucus chairman, describing how economic inequality today is equivalent to the racial injustice of the 1950's and 60's. "Thanks to Wall Street and big banks, our communities are in crisis."
"Occupy the Dream" was organized and endorsed by IIRON; IIRON Student Network; Southsiders' Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL); Northside People Organized to Work, Educate, and Restore (P.O.W.E.R); Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations; and Occupy Chicago. The event called upon supporters to participate in grassroots organizing and non-violent methods to promote social change.
"Martin Luther King knew he could use his power by empowering others to take on the injustice in our country and to project his moral vision," said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky at the event. "You are here today because you know you have the power."
Schakowsky also publicly endorsed the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act. The bill would create around 2.2 million jobs and generate more than $227 billion in revenue through the taxation of American millionaires and billionaires.
"If we can spend billions of dollars on a war in Iraq and billions of dollars on a war in Afghanistan, we ought to spend money putting a man and a woman on their own two feet," the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. said.
The announced initiatives encouraged people to withdraw all their money from big banks like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America that have received billions of dollars in government bailouts yet are foreclosing on American homes daily. People are encouraged to move their money into local banks and credit unions that put money back into their communities.
"This national effort has already moved $225 million in 3 months," said Rev. Curry.
Attendees of "Occupy the Dream" were also encouraged to contact Attorney General Lisa Madigan and insist she withdraw from negotiations that have minimized penalties for mortgage companies that engaged in "robosigning," fraudulent foreclosure practices that have cost thousands of Americans their homes.
"This is really a multicultural interfaith event," said Evelyn Dehais, a press liaison with Occupy Chicago. Dehais said the event brought people together "behind the spirit of Martin Luther King… reminding them that they have a voice and empowering them to stand up."