ALEC convention draws protest of thousands in Chicago

Thousands protested in the streets Thursday, August 8, 2013  in downtown Chicago outside the Palmer House Hilton Hotel where The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held their 40th anniversary convention. A coalition of concerned citizens, community and action groups joined union members and supporters to voice their concern about what they feel is the influence ALEC has on legislation being passed across the nation.

Some of ALEC’s model bills that have been voted into law by legislators include: Right to Work laws, “Ag-gag” bills which brand environmental and animal rights activists “terrorists”, and Arizona’s profiling law (SB1070).

During the sanctioned rally, protesters picketed the sidewalk and street in front of the hotel while a number of speakers including union leaders, teachers, workers and the Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed the crowd from a stage set up in the street, which had been closed off for the rally by the Chicago Police Department.

After the sanctioned demonstration had ended, the speaker’s stage was taken down in front of the hotel and police opened up the street to traffic. CPD officers began to push the remaining protesters back onto the sidewalk with metal barricades. A group of protesters lined up and began pushing back against the police. Soon after, the police lunged into the crowd, creating a pile-up of bodies as they grabbed and wrestled the demonstrators who had been pushing on the barricades. Many of the people pinned to the ground were bystanders standing on the sidewalk when it happened and got caught up in the mayhem. Six protesters were later arrested.