The day started with a cold rain, that eventually tapered off some in the afternoon, before coming back with a vengeful storm in the evening. The brief respite from the precipitation was mostly well timed for our loud and joyful casserole march through the streets of downtown Chicago.
Our march, targeting the devastating problems caused by economic inequality in our communities, was set to kick off at 3:30 pm from the Thompson Center in the loop. Activists started arriving as early as 2:30 and by march time we had close to 50 brothers and sisters ready to make some noise for justice. we started by heading east to reach the main shopping areas of our fair city. On the march, we stayed on the sidewalks, banging on our pots and pans, shouting and chanting, accompanied by drums and various noise makers. and of course, police were present. We had an escort of 3-5 bike cops, 4-6 walking officers, and at least 2 squad cars. Our casserole march had no real destination, other than the shopping district, so we meandered through streets of downtown Chicago, our destination chosen as much at random as it was to make the officers get some exercise. After marching north on State Street for a while, we headed over further east on Wacker Drive to visit the Hyatt Hotel to deliver a message. We attempted to enter the hotel, but security and police prevented us from accessing the lobby. So we delivered a mic check right in front of their doors, highlighting the myriad of labor battles and terrible worker conditions Hyatt engages in, especially calling attention to the political connections of the wealthy Hyatt Heiress Penny Pritzker and Chicago’s 1% mayor Rahm Emmanuel. After that brief stop, we headed north on Michigan, headed for the “magnificent mile”, Chicago’s premier high end shopping district. Once we crossed the Chicago river, our police escort mysteriously disappeared, so naturally we took the streets. On this particularly busy Saturday afternoon in downtown Chicago, our 50 person #globalNOISE casserole march took over Michigan Avenue for almost a full mile! Traffic slowed as we banged our pots and pans and drums, chanting and inviting others to join. Several people walking by cheered us, and some even joined the fun! the march snaked north on Michigan ave, switching between north and south bound lanes for fun and excitement. At one point a police cruiser did show up, but with a very weak attempt to restore “order”, we ignored them and stayed in the street.
After reaching Water Tower Place, the consumerist palace capping the north end of Chicago’s magnificent mile, we decided to enter the building to bring our message to the shoppers. immediately upon entering, banging and clanging our metal pots and pans, the mall security set upon us, telling us we had to leave. We of course ignored them and kept moving up the stairs onto the main floor. We made a few circles around the elevators, chanting “while you’re shopping, bombs are dropping!”, and then exited through a Macy’s. Once outside, we began circling in the intersection, waiting for all our comrades. Then we took a quick consensus and decided to head west for a few blocks and then disband the march, regrouping later to discuss and critique the days actions.
Personally, I felt the overall march was a great success. we didn’t know how many participants to expect, or have any real expectations for the route of the march. In the end, a good amount turned out and the fact we were able to take Michigan Ave for so long unhindered by the police was quite exciting. The final action of entering Water Tower Place was more than i expected, and i hope provided a much needed element of reality to those blindly consuming goods in those halls of capitalism.