Chicago–On a blistering hot July 21, over 200 seniors, disabled people, and outraged citizens demonstrated downtown in front of the Social Security office to express anger over proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Called by several groups, including Community Renewal Society, Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans, Lakeview Action Coalition, Jane Addams Senior Caucus and several unions, the demonstration was mostly made up of people in their 60s and older, several in wheelchairs, and younger supporters.
It was sobering to see so many older people concerned about being able to survive, demonstrating on a day so hot that it was dangerous to our health. Organizers, aware of the fragile nature of many of the participants, made sure to have water available and promised a demonstration shorter than usual. Even so, many had to take turns going into the air-conditioned building lobby for a few minutes to be able to continue participating.
Not despite disability and age, but because of it, the demonstration was militant and spirited. We chanted and yelled: “Whose money? Our money!” “Banks got bailed out; we got sold out!” and the one that got the most enthusiasm: “Don’t put seniors in the ditch. There is money: Tax the rich!”
We were there to pressure Illinois Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin to preserve funding for life-saving programs that capitalists are anxious to destroy. Despite the unusual nature of the demonstrators and the urgency of their message, this demonstration got little coverage. But that will not stop either the outrage or the protests to come.