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Protesters, upset over school closings and austerity cuts, march to Mayor Emanuel’s home

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Updated: August 6, 2013 6:29AM

If the mayor was home on the Fourth of July, he’d look out to see hundreds in front of his home, holding signs that read “#onetermmayor” and calling austerity a reason for some of the city’s biggest problems.

Dubbed a fight against austerity, the group marched to Mayor Emanuel’s Ravenswood home just after noon, standing on the sidewalk and parkway in front of his home to fight everything from mass school closings in Chicago, to statewide shutdowns of mental health clinics.

“I think it was very deceptive of Rahm to say there is no money, so we have to close all these schools, when in fact we’re giving tax breaks hand over fist to the CME [Chicago Mercantile Exchange], one of Rahm’s number one campaign contributors,” Carl Gibson, a participant, said. “…I don’t think we need to be building stadiums or giving tax breaks for really rich people, when we’re closing schools.”

“We need teachers in the hall. Not a stadium for DePaul,” many chanted.

“This is my independence. I want to be independent of the elite politicians,” Padraig O’Hara said while riding his bike alongside the crowd. “That’s the independence I’m striving for today.”

The crowd first gathered at Chase Park near Ashland and Leland, then marched to the mayor’s home nearby - with Chicago Police officers following along. After nearly an hour of speeches in front of the mayor’s home, the group danced in the street for several minutes, before making their way back to the park.

Nidalis Burgos, the 15-year-old girl who occuppied a Lafayette Elementary school classroom with her family on June 19 — the school’s final day before being shuttered — marched with her entire family.

The Chicago Board of Education in May voted to close 50 CPS elementary schools, affecting some 27,000 students, and becoming the biggest mass school shutdown in American history.

Burgos said her family’s fight against school closings didn’t end on the last day of school: “We’ve been involved with a lot because not only did it affect us, it affected everyone. It’s a domino effect, and we know that,” Burgos said. “We’ve been helping everyone with their problems so they don’t have to go through as much pain as we did with the school closings.”

An Emanuel spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Also on Thursday, hundreds joined the “Restore the Fourth” protest, marching from Daley Plaza to Millennium Park to demand an end to “unconstitutional surveillance.”

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