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CHICAGO—More than 3,000 Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) rank-and-file members, parents, students, public education supporters, union allies and community organizations representing all backgrounds braved freezing winter temperatures last night in marching throughout the Loop in support of the Union’s efforts in securing a fair contract for the city and schools Chicago’s students deserve. In an act of civil disobedience, 16 CTU members (pictured) staged a sit-in in the Bank of America (BOA) branch at 135 S. LaSalle, and were subsequently arrested and detained by Chicago police.

The arrestees demanded that Chicago BOA President Paul Lambert begin negotiations with the Union and the district for the return of the toxic swap termination money paid out to CPS. All 16 arrestees were released last night shortly before midnight. 

“Rahm has money for the banks but not for our students,” said teacher Sarah Chambers, one of the arrestees. “When it’s reached a point where teachers are occupying banks to make their voices heard, it shows that we need an elected school board.” 

The march came two days after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Forrest Claypool declared war on public school educators by threatening $100 million in classroom cuts—roughly 1,000 layoffs—and just one day after the CTU withdrew nearly $1 million from Bank of America. The CTU closed its BOA savings account in protest of that bank and other financial institutions that sold CPS toxic interest rate swaps, and are demanding a payout of at least $228 million—almost the exact same amount as cuts enacted by the Chicago Board of Education to schools and special education.

Fact finding continued today between the CTU and the Board of Ed, and the CTU continues its series of non-violent direct actions with a canvass this afternoon from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the 95th Street Red Line station in conjunction with SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana and Amalgamated Transit Union locals 241 and 308.

ILLUSTRATION: Bank of America 16