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The Human Side of Occupy Chicago

Juan Oribio has been standing in front of the Federal Reserve Bank for 10 days, protesting against corporate greed and the bank bailout in the Occupy Chicago movement.

Oribio, an Illinois School of Arts student, said he is angry at all political parties. He said his tax money is being used to finance wars that he does not support.

“I want the Federal Reserve to be audited,” Oribio said.

He said the U.S. Congress should start thinking about the 99 percent of American people who are suffering because of the worst economic recession since the 1930s.

“Everyone has the chance to speak. This [protest] is by the people, for the people,” he said.

Oribio said when he is not busy with school, he goes to the area of the protest to give his support to the cause. His family and friends are supporting him and agree that it is a good thing to do.

Occupy Chicago was launched on Sept. 23. The movement, which does not have an official leader, is trying to engage as many people as possible and to give American people a message of democracy, according to the movement’s website.

There are three main issues that brought many Chicagoans out of their home to occupy the streets between La Salle and Jackson, where the Federal Reserve Bank and Board of Trade are located. They are the economic recession, the war in Afghanistan and the health care system.

“I would love if it gets the proportion of London. I want this to be as big as it can,” said Oribio. Many cities in the world had similar movements, and he said it would be great if Chicago’s achieves similar growth.

Oribio also said most of the meetings are organized by a group called “Anonymous” that uses the Internet for activism all over the world. Their symbol is a mask.

Like Oribio, other protesters are spending their time occupying the street. Jamie, who declined to give her last name, was holding a sign in front of the Chicago Board of Trade.

“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Quarterly audits for brokerage firms of investment banks,” the sign said.

Jamie, 33, said she worked for 13 years at the Chicago Board of Trade. She said she was reported for misconduct and fired in February 2010, because she exposed corruption.

“They said I was doing things I should not have been doing,” she said.

While at the protest, Jamie said she was offered a free credit card by a passing stranger. This was not the first time that somebody tried to intimidate her to take money while she was there, she said. A similar episode happened some days before, she added.

“He was trying to give me a credit card. They don’t like what I am doing,” she said.

Jamie said things cannot go on the way they are right now, and the gap between the super rich and the super poor is not good for the country.

Jamie painted her truck with signs of her protest. The truck is usually parked close to La Salle Street, where she goes every day, protesting and hoping things will get better.

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