Last Saturday, October 15th, over 200 people were arrested while assembling in Grant Park for a peaceful protest as part of the Occupy Chicago movement.  Several GEO members were arrested as well and as such, an open letter to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and the Chicago City Council has been drafted, asking them to cease and desist in their harassment and arrests of the Occupy Chicago protestors, and to allow for the continued lawful, peaceful assembly of the protesters.  The letter is attached below.

 

October 21, 2011

 

An open letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and the Chicago City Council:

 

As trade unionists, we hold dear the right to organize, peaceably assemble and to engage in free speech. That is why we are appalled at the arrest of more than 200 protesters from Occupy Chicago in Grant Park on October 15–and why we demand that all charges be dropped immediately.

 

Since it began on Wall Street more than a month ago, the Occupy movement has inspired working people across the U.S. and indeed, in countries around the world. That’s because the Occupy movement has rightly focused attention on the issues faced by union and nonunion workers alike: unemployment, inequality, poverty and other social ills caused by the tremendous concentration of wealth in this country.

 

Occupy Chicago, led by young people whose future is threatened by economic decline, has done our city a service by bringing the debate on these questions to the fore. They have done so peaceably, and they have the right to establish an occupation in a prominent public place free from interference by police or politicians.

 

That is why we call on Mayor Emanuel, Police Superintendent McCarthy and the City Council to cease harassment and arrests of Occupy Chicago activists and welcome this vital discussion to our city.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

The Steering Committee of the Graduate Employees’ Organization

GEO Resolution to Support “Occupy Chicago”

 

Whereas, the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, the national parent union to the Graduate Employees’ Organization officially endorsed the national “occupation” movement “Occupy Wall Street.”

 

Whereas, Occupy Chicago’s mission statement states, “Occupy Chicago is here to fight corporate abuse of American democracy in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world.”

 

Whereas, Graduate Employees’ Organization represents Graduate Assistants who have their tuition waivers taxed at a rate between 30 to 36% while many of the largest corporations in this country pay no taxes at all.

 

Whereas, Occupy Chicago’s mission statement states, “Occupy Chicago reassures its members and the public that we are a social movement dedicated to nonviolent action.”

 

Whereas, the basic message behind Occupy Chicago is that the current political system only works for 1% of the population.

 

Whereas, the Graduate Employees’ Organization stands for a quality education for all not just those who can afford skyrocketing tuition and fees, including unregulated Tuition Differentials not covered by tuition waivers.

 

Whereas, the Graduate Employees’ Organization represents Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants and work with undergraduate students all who face unprecedented levels of student loan debt.

 

Therefore, be it resolved, that the Graduate Employees’ Organization endorses the Occupy Chicago campaign.

 

Resolved, Graduate Employees’ Organization will maintain a presence at the occupation site through the Steering Committee and information from the occupation will be disseminated through Graduate Employees’ Organization’s communications including, but not limited to website, social media.

Put away your books and research for a little bit; you deserve a break, so come to the GEO social on Friday, October 21st from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm at the Haymarket brewery (737 W. Randolph, corner of Halsted and Randolph).  Grab a ticket at the door and enjoy a free beer or soda while talking with fellow GEO members and finding out the latest news about what the GEO is working on and how you can get involved!

Are you a GA concerned about waiver taxation?  Or are you studying in one of the departments that institutes tuition differentials (get a complete list here)?If you have questions or issues that you want to address, come with the GEO to voice your concerns at the Student Trustee’s Town Hall meeting on Monday, October 17th in the Rafael Cintron-Ortiz Latino Cultural Center in Lecture Center B2 from 2:15-4 pm.  The Student Trustee Ken Thomas sits on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees which is in charge of major decision-making that affects all graduate employees and students in the U of I system.  Join your fellow GEO members as we continue to address these issues affecting graduate employees and let your voice be heard!

See below for Ken Thomas’ original message and additional information about how to get in contact with him.

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Hello Fellow Students,

I am Ken Thomas, your Student Member of the Board of Trustees.  I am charged with representing undergraduate, graduate and professional students on the University Of Illinois Board Of Trustees which is the governing board for all three of the U of I campuses. (Chicago, Springfield, Urbana-Champaign)

In an effort to represent all students and get an idea of issues that are important to you, I am hosting the Student Trustee’s Town Hall on Monday October 17th in the Rafael Cintron-Ortiz Latino Cultural Center in Lecture Center B2 from 2:15-4 pm.  THERE WILL BE FREE POTBELLY SANDWICHES for students who attend the town hall.  Please stop by and giver your input.  Also feel free to email me about your concerns at trustee@uic.edu.  I hope to see you there!

Kenneth M. Thomas
Student Member of the Board of Trustees