SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Occupy Springfield used the "People's Mic" to make a statement about corporate "terrorism" at the Illinois State Capitol Nov. 9. Their stand was against a proposed law giving $700 million in tax breaks to large corporations who do not need it. This is exactly the sort of grievance the Occupy movement exists to stand against.
The CME Group, parent company of the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is demanding major tax breaks from the people of Illinois, and has threatened to shut operations and move elsewhere if they don't get what they want.
Terry Duffy, chairman of CME Group, has been quoted as saying that the company is reviewing offers from other states, when he spoke to members of two committees considering corporate tax cut legislation.
Several other huge corporations are also demanding similar breaks after the state legislature passed a tax increase in January. Sears is considering moving its corporate headquarters (employing about 6,200) out of Illinois because the state increased the corporate tax rate from 4.8 to 7 percent.
These threatened moves are being likened by labor and community organizations to "hostage taking."
Special legislation tax breaks to CME and Sears Holding Co. and other businesses, is being heard in the Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee.
When Occupy Springfield activists were told by the Capitol Police that they could not make a statement without a permit in the Capitol building, they decided to exercise their rights on the grounds of free speech.
"This place is owned by the people. If we can't have freedom to speak here then where can we," noted Jim Dixon, a labor activist.
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Activists called for a "mic check" in the Capitol rotunda and surrounded their "microphones."
"We are the 99% and we will be heard," they declared. "Vote no on SB397"
The police had to elbow their way through the crowd to evict the speaker. As soon as they picked someone to eject, another citizen became the microphone.
"Lawmakers shouldn't be granting tax breaks to greedy corporations," the second one declared.
"While they drain money from the pensions of police, firefighters, teachers and other public workers," declared a third.
Capitol Police ejected 8 or 10 of Occupy Springfield supporters before they finally realized that each time they did remove someone, another citizen would become the microphone.
Police then tried to remove everyone, but by that time the group finished reading its statement and they marched out chanting, "We are the 99%!"
Photo: From an earlier protest to "evict" corporate influence from the state capital. PW