On Monday, May 9, 2016, three University of Chicago students were arrested, along with many others, for blocking the entrance to Citadel, a hedge fund in downtown Chicago, during in a demonstration against the current Illinois budget crisis and Governor Bruce Rauner.
This demonstration, led by Fair Economy Illinois and IIRON, was the first of their “Moral Monday” protests this year. Fair Economy plans to organize Moral Monday protests once a month at different locations from May through September of this year.
The protesters included members from a coalition of groups brought together by the IIRON Student Network (ISN), an organization that works to empower students to impact change through collective action, working in partnership with their parent organization the IIRON Education Fund. At the University of Chicago, the UChicago Climate Action Network and the member organizations of the Southside Solidarity Network are part of IIRON. Many students came to protest from different chapters of ISN and Fair Budget UChicago, a student group focused on budgetary reform.
According to first-year Lily Grossbard, a rally started before the protest around 11 a.m. The demonstration itself began at 11:30 a.m. and lasted until 2:30 p.m., culminating in the arrest of 23 people. Three UChicago students, including Grossbard, and several alumni were among those arrested.
The demonstration targeted founder and CEO of Citadel Ken Griffin, who is the richest man in Illinois and a major donor to Governor Rauner. Another UChicago student arrested was Alex Peltz, who described his motivation for participating on the Moral Mondays Facebook page.
“I went to jail Monday afternoon surrounded by hundreds of my comrades and plenty of angry hedge fund managers. I did this in protest of the budget crisis being inflicted on Illinois by Gov. Rauner, a man financed by billionaire Ken Griffin, who makes $90,000 an hour,” he wrote.
Grossbard said that the arrests began after several people set up lockboxes to form a blockade inside the building in front of the elevators, preventing people from entering or leaving.
“There were either four or five people inside the building that used lockboxes to lock themselves down and block the elevators. First the police brought in a SWAT team to undo all the lockboxes and then there were people on the outside blocking doors, so after the police arrested the people inside they realized that the rest of the protest wasn’t going to leave until they arrested the rest of the people blocking the doors,” she said.
Many of the protestors arrested were college students, from UChicago, Northwestern, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Roosevelt University, but according to Grossbard they accomplished what they set out to do.
“I think it was a success. We wanted to shut down the building, and we did for several hours,” Grossbard said.
Going forward, ISN and Fair Budget will continue to work closely together.
“We are very connected with their organization; if anything our relationship is growing stronger. There are chapters of the IIRON student network at UIC, Northwestern, a really strong chapter at Roosevelt; we do a lot of work with them. Fair budgeting has always been a part of IIRON’s mission.” Grossbard said.
Editor's Note: Lily Grossbard is an Associate Viewpoints Editor for the Maroon.