Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chicago School Closings Protest Could Shut Down Loop During Afternoon Rush

School Closings Protest Could Shut Down Loop During Afternoon Rush

March 27, 2013 7:17 AM

CHICAGO (CBS) – You might want to avoid the Loop this afternoon; the Chicago Teachers Union is planning to pack Daley Plaza with thousands of people, and shut down a number of streets as part of a protest of planned school closings.

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports thousands of protesters – including parents, students, teachers and members of other labor unions – have planned a 4 p.m. rally to protest the Chicago Public Schools’ plans to close 53 schools and 61 buildings at the end of the school year.

Some demonstrators were planning to get arrested to bring more attention to their objections to school closings.

The demonstration and protest march could make driving in the Loop a nightmare during the afternoon rush, as several city streets would be shut down at times as protesters make their way through downtown.

The protest will start with a rally at Daley Plaza, before marching around City Hall, then south a few blocks to CPS headquarters.

The group will march north out of Daley Plaza to Randolph Street, west to LaSalle Street, then south to the entrance of City Hall. Organizers said 150 people have volunteered to get arrested by blocking the entrance.

After that, the remaining protesters plan to march to CPS headquarters, at 125 S. Clark St., to continue their rally against school closings.

Knowing things can escalate quickly with that many people, the district has surrounded the building with metal barricades, hoping to keep protesters out of the building.

On Monday, there was a smaller rally in the Loop – a preview of what’s to come on Wednesday. A group of 50 to 70 students from various high schools led Monday’s protest rally, to express their concerns about overcrowding and safety.

CPS has said closing and consolidating schools can be emotional and difficult for everyone involved, but said the closings are necessary because too many schools are half-empty.

The district said the closings will free up resources to improve the schools where students are relocated, and help trim a projected $1 billion budget shortfall.

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