In a protest organized by MoveOn Bloomington-Normal, over 60 people gathered Thursday afternoon around Normal’s Sugar Creek bridge on Main Street to demand more money for jobs.
The decrepit bridge and out-of-service pedestrian walkway served as a symbol for necessary infrastructure upgrades, which according to the protestors, could be accomplished and thereby provide desperately needed jobs if the wealthiest 1% were fairly taxed.
The protest had the support of Laborer’s Local 362, AFSCME, and Illinois People’s Action. Many construction workers of Laborers 362 were present at the rally, dressed in work gear.
Eric Penn, from Laborers Local 362, said “By putting our members back to work, we turn around and support our communities, by putting money back into the community.” Mr. Penn suggested that people contact their legislators to demand jobs in the economy.
Sonny Garcia, organizer with Illinois People’s Action, said that he was standing in solidarity with MoveOn and local unions in demanding good jobs.
Mr. Garcia specifically pointed to the recent machinations of the “Illinois Wall Street,” the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He said Illinois Senate Bill 397 would give tax cuts to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to the tune of $50 million, money that could be spent on rebuilding infrastructure and supporting union jobs.
After about an hour, Sara Holthaus of MoveOn Bloomington-Normal led a program of chants and speeches, in which a number of people from different organizations spoke. A candlelight vigil was held for the people arrested in New York City’s Zuccotti Park during the recent raid on Occupy Wall Street.