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Chicago Students Protest Drastic Cuts; Ask "Where's Our Bailout?"

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Another student took the bullhorn and asked for a moment of silence for all the young murder victims across the city. The rally fell silent.

"Chicago is the murder capital of the world, but look at us, we are united," the student said.

Organizer Diana Rosen made it clear the city administration and school did not support the students' action, and the students knew there would be a consequence for walking out of class.

"And we'll all be going to Saturday school, right?" she asked the crowd. (Having to go to school on Saturday was the punishment for cutting classes, students said.)

"Saturday school! Saturday school!" they cheered.

Whitney Young student Nico Segal played a bluesy-jazz version of the "Star Spangled Banner" on his trumpet. It was reminiscent of another generation with Jimi Hendrix's galvanizing take on the national anthem.

But this rally had all the markings of a new generation coming of age and forced to fight for the future. With cell phones in hand, the protest en masse called the governor's office after his Springfield office number was read aloud.

One girl got through. She reported to the crowd, "The woman said it was too loud. She couldn't hear what I was saying. But she heard the youth of Chicago, united!"

Nico Segal put it this way: "Something needs to be said about the youth. Such a diverse crowd coming together. This is what democracy looks like."

As the students began to leave and return to school, another demonstration began to march on the state's massive office building. This one was for mental health funding.

The budget crisis makes for a busy spring and a "beautiful struggle."

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Terrie Albano is co-editor of People's World, www.peoplesworld.org.
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