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Chicago Anti-FTAA Action

Over a thousand people marched in Chicago against the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Chicago Anti-FTAA Demonstration
By: David Stroup and Peter Snyder
Photos: David Stroup

Hundreds gathered on Saturday near the Hendrickson Spring plant at 48th and Western in Chicago, IL to protest the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The Hendrickson Spring plant is closing, and by next year a majority of the company will have moved to Mexico. The event, sponsored by Chicago Jobs With Justice, American Friends Service Committee, and the United Steelworkers of America, kicked off at around noon.


Speakers at the rally included Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steel Workers of America, Mary Zerkel of the American Friends Service Committee, and Emily LaBarbera-Twarog of Chicago Jobs with Justice. Other speakers were present as well, including some of those who are losing their jobs at Hendrickson Spring. Also present at the march was U.S. Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois 17th Congressional District who spoke briefly at the rally.

Following the speakers, the march began, led by a "Funeral Procession," with bagpipes, for all of the jobs killed by NAFTA and other trade agreements. As far as one could see there were people marching, with signs, flags, and puppets. The proceeded down the median of Western Ave until it reached McKinley Park at about 2:30. Loud chants got the attention of many drivers who "honked for solidarity."

The march was successful in drawing a large amount of people who disagree with trade policies. Groups attending included various local labor unions, social groups, religious groups, and immigrant groups. Other activities followed after the arrival at McKinley Park, including skits and a role-playing "race to the bottom." The march, a showing of solidarity with other marches taking place all over the Americas, focused on the negative impact recent free trade agreements have had on workers and why the expansion of NAFTA to encompass the entire hemisphere should be stopped.

Interviews and Audio from this event will be included in the debut edition of "From the Trenches," the Chicago Independent Media Center's radio show. The show will air on Monday, April 30, 2001; at 10:30AM on our partner station 88.7FM (WLUW) Independent Community Radio. It will also be available to listen to on the Internet.


United Steel Workers President Leo Gerard, and U.S. Rep. Lane Evans (Left)


Demonstrators utilized many creative protest signs and posters.


The FTAA Protest March Begins at Hendrickson Spring.


Anti-FTAA Puppets.


The "Funeral Procession" for all of the jobs killed by NAFTA.


Hundreds march in Chicago.


Marchers with various signs and puppets on their way to McKinley Park.