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Occupy Chicago back at Grant Park after arrests

Updated: November 18, 2011 8:58AM

Hours after 175 Occupy Chicago protesters were arrested in Grant Park, the group continued its campaign Sunday afternoon against corporate greed, bank bailouts and high unemployment.

“The movement is just beginning — our arrests have galvanized us,” said Ashley Bohrer, a 23-year-old DePaul Ph.D student who was among those arrested.

The protesters were arrested early Sunday after they refused to obey police orders to leave the park after it closed at 11 p.m. Saturday.

They were charged with a misdemeanor violation and given a $125 citation. They were released after being fingerprinted and processed.

Supporters “came down to the police station as soon as they loaded the last of us into buses and paddy wagons and waited outside the police station in the pouring rain,” Bohrer said. “They brought us ponchos and coffee. We were greeted with a lot of cheering, a lot of yells of solidarity.”

Among those also arrested was 25-year-old Bryan Hazelwonder, who said he hitchhiked to Chicago’s protests from Medford, Ore., two weeks ago. He dropped out of college where he was studying to be a paramedic after being laid off as a cashier at Target.

“I couldn’t find a job to pay my rent. I was supporting my mother and my sister,” he said. “I went through all my savings and eventually that was it. The banks and our federal government and the corporations are all looking out for each other’s interests, behind the curtain. We’re like the pawns.”

Hazelwonder added that the country needs to invest in people.

“To be able to find a job, pay my rent and afford college, it’s basic stuff [that’s needed],” he said.

“This movement grows by the day,” said 22-year-old protester Erin Delaney on Sunday afternoon, a Roosevelt University student.

On Sunday night, about 200 members of Occupy Chicago marched on sidewalks east from LaSalle and Jackson to Grant Park while chanting, “This is what Democracy looks like.”

At the park, the group focused on mainly shopkeeping issues — legal assistance, donations and medical help.

One organizer said the group plans to take over a park in the city within the next two weeks.

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