Action Now joined Jane Addams Senior Caucus, and several other community, healthcare and labor organizations to protest the Congressional super committee’s proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. There was a large rally of over 1,000 people at Federal Plaza where seniors spoke about the dire need for these programs to ensure the survival of older and disabled Americans. With the economy in such bad shape, now is not the time to cut assistance to people who have paid into these programs their whole life. Ralliers were upset that the richest 1% are getting handouts and tax breaks while the rest of America keeps getting cuts to vital programs and services that keep people out of poverty. Politicians like Congressman Danny Davis, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Alderman Joe Moore, and others spoke about their support for the protesters and called on the super committee to not make any cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Flora Johnson, a member of SEIU, spoke about her son who suffers from cerebal palsy, “”If his chair breaks, without Medicare and Medicaid, I can’t afford to fix it. I’ve contributed to society, I’ve done everything I was supposed to do. I guess my problem is that I’m not rich. I’m just an ordinary citizen, one of millions, saying to Congress: ‘Don’t cut Medicare and Medicaid,’ and ‘make the rich pay their fair share.’”
After the speakers finished, everyone marched over to Jackson and Clark where over 40 seniors blocked traffic and risked arrest by linking arms and sitting down in the middle of the intersection. Action Now President Michelle Young and Board Member Marie Gasaway were part of the sit-in and were issued tickets by the police. Ms. Gasaway said she risked arrest because, “It’s hard, not just for me but for all of us seniors. If there are cuts, we just won’t be able to make it.”
The message was not only about those currently depending on these programs, “I made the decision to participate in civil disobedience as an act of conscience,” said Emily Byrd with the Jane Adams Senior Caucus (JASC). “I could no longer stand idly by while vital safety net programs are in danger of being cut. What is at stake is not only seniors’ ability to live with dignity and economic security, but the future of our country. I am here today to fight not just for seniors, but for my children and grandchildren.”
ABC 7 News (Video of Action Now Board Member Marie Gasaway speaking)
WGN 9 News (Video shows Action Now members at the rally)
Video of rally:
(video credit: Occupy Chicago)