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Young and Old Unite to Fight Potentially Drastic Cuts


On Nov. 7, more than fifty seniors, their allies, and religious leaders were arrested for occupying the intersection of Clark Street and Jackson Boulevard. The protesters were calling on Congress to fight and support a budget plan that protects and preserves vital social safety net programs.

“I made the decision to participate in civil disobedience as an act of conscience.  I could no longer stand idly by while vital safety net programs are in danger of being cut,” Emily Byrd, leader with Jane Addams Senior Caucus said. “What is at stake is not only senior’s 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.”

An estimated 600 seniors and their allies first held a rally and march demanding that the Illinois Congressional Delegation pass a budget that protects and strengthens the social safety net programs for seniors, families with low incomes and our communities. 

The Congressional Super Committee is meeting behind closed doors to decide how to cut $1.2 trillion dollars in federal spending by November 23rd.  Meanwhile, wealthy investors and high income households had their Bush-era tax cuts extended, worsening deficits and economic inequity in the United States.

“What are they going to cut?  Our social security checks?  Our Medicare and Medicaid? Many older women, especially older women of color, would suffer the brunt of these cuts,” Mary Burns, a retired nurse’s assistant and leader of Jane Addams Senior Caucus, said.  “Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk need to hear that seniors are members of the 99% and we have something to say about this issue and these critical programs.”

Senator Dick Durbin, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Congressman Danny Davis, and Congressman Mike Quigley publicly committed to fight for a budget that protects and preserves vital social safety net programs, and includes raising taxes on millionaires, banks and big corporations to help solve the revenue crisis.  Many who participated in civil disobedience at the rally wondered were Senator Mark Kirk was

“Senator Kirk needs to remember that he is accountable to the voters of Illinois.  We are here to let our elected officials know that we will not stand silently by while they allow cuts to vital safety net programs.  We will continue to fight for a society in which all people can live with dignity and economic security,” said Arrie Jones, Pullman Presbyterian Church, Senior Action Network of Community Renewal Society.

The rally, march and civil disobedience was organized by collaboration of grassroots organizations from across Chicago, including Jane Addams Senior CaucusAccess Living, Bickerdike, Action Now, Chicago Housing Initiative, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Community Renewal Society, Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Lakeview Action Coalition, Metropolitan Tenants Organization, Northside P.O.W.E.R., Organization of the Northeast, SEIU Homecare Illinois/Indiana, Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation and Southside Together Organizing for Power.      


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