New Obstacles for Occupy Chicago?

Ryan Williams

Sometime around 3 AM CT Tuesday morning, Occupy Chicago's Twitter account posted a single, ominous message: "We need cars and trucks to move stuff now due to police action. Please rt."This is not the first time that the Chicago Police have asked the protesters of Occupy Chicago to move their belongings off the side of the street "to comply with local ordinances," according to In These Times' interviews with the group's media liaisons and volunteers on Sunday. It is not confirmed whether this move is permanent or temporary, but it comes five days before the Bank of America-sponsored Chicago Marathon, which will pass directly through the intersection where the camp is located now, and directly by Bank of America's Chicago offices at 231 S. LaSalle. City ordinance prevents private property being present on a public way, but in the two weeks of protests preceding last night's request, protesters had been allowed to respond by packing their gear into backpacks or putting it onto mobile carts for temporary relocation.As of about 6 AM the group's Twitter account had been updated to say "What an eventful night! Occupy Chicago Phase 2 begins NOW!!! We need everyone here today. Today is the day to get involved!" Meanwhile, the website had a call for an emergency 10 AM general assembly meeting. In These Times will post further updates, as and when we get them, to this blog post.11:55 AM CT: The following update has been posted to the Occupy Chicago website:Around 2am this morning there was an issue with the cops and us needing to make immediate action to make all things there 100% mobile, all bodies must be constantly moving, and absolutely no sitting/sleeping. This resulted in a 3am emergency assembly to discuss how we were going to address this and the long term necessity of an HQ where people can actually camp and stuff can remain setup. What came about through this discussion was implementing “Occupy Chicago, Phase 2 – Mobilization.” During the day, we are now having people split into smaller groups of about 15 and target different relevant locations in the area. We’ve organized 4 carts each with all necessary items for the breakout groups. In addition, we filled a van with all kinds of extra supplies that are being moved into storage. Good news is, the push gave us a great idea to extend the message past the Fed foot traffic and got major news people out for interviews!12:30 PM CT:Following the 10 AM emergency General Assembly meeting outside the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago at LaSalle and Jackson, volunteer members of Occupy Chicago are reporting that the group has established a new focus on the immediate need for a permanent place to stay.What the group has agreed on is that they want to maintain a permanent presence, even stripped to its essentials, in front of the Federal Reserve in Chicago. That would put the group in direct conflict with the Chicago Marathon, one of the largest marathons in the U.S.As reported on Sunday, the lack of publicly accessible land available for Occupy Chicago protesters to establish an official camp poses the largest risk to the group's sustainability. Even if the group does find a home, the presence of Occupy Wall Street protesters at Liberty Square (formerly Zuccotti Park) does not mean that Chicago city officials would allow the same thing to happen here.Despite this, one protester named Meg said that she was still in high spirits. "Even though it's cold and my feet hurt," she said, "I'm meeting a lot of great people and I'm glad to be a part of it." Here's a video worth watching that profiles the protesters: People Over Profits! Occupy Chicago! from Miguel A Torres on Vimeo.

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Ryan Williams is a Columbia College journalism graduate working in Chicago nonprofits. He moonlights as a freelance photographer and writer.
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