Chicagoans Join Occupy 'Day Of Disruption'
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Check. One, two.
CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: I'm Cheryl Corley in Chicago. Workers check microphones early for the rally being held here in the downtown Thompson Center. Twenty-six-year-old Will Attic(ph), a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is one of the many showing up here. He says he wants to support the message that the country should focus on jobs.
WILL ATTIC: I came home two years ago after serving for six and a half years as a staff sergeant with two Purple Hearts, and I couldn't find a job stacking sodas on a shelf.
CORLEY: Attic has a job now as a union pipe fitter but says too many veterans are unemployed. Also in the crowd, 52-year-old Alfonso Polito, who lost his factory job a couple of months ago. His wife is also unemployed, and he says they're struggling as they help raise four grandchildren.
ALFONSO POLITO: So my situation is very, very hard. I need to pay the bills. I need to pay the rent. So, Congress, we need jobs, don't need cuts.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Occupy day.
CORLEY: Occupy Chicago has never established a permanent site because the city wouldn't let it. Instead, the movement maintains an around-the-clock presence on the sidewalks near Chicago's financial district. About 50 protesters today carried signs that said: Our economy has one foot in the grave. Regulate the banks, tax the rich. Ronald Sharp(ph), wearing a mask over his face, says the occupation will stay.
RONALD SHARP: Enough is enough and too much stinks. We've had it with what's going on in this economic system today.
CORLEY: Three weeks ago, Chicago police evicted Occupiers for a second time from Grant Park, but there's been no widespread violence and police promise not to wear riot gear. Late this afternoon, when protesters took over a downtown bridge, organizer Catherine Murrell said people were willing to be arrested.
CATHERINE MURRELL: And they're, you know, cooperating with police, but they are blocking that bridge and risking arrest because they feel so strongly.
CORLEY: Police made no arrests and issued traffic citations instead. Occupy Chicago and other groups have planned teach-ins and other events for the winter, and they are calling for another day of action in April. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.
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