Occupy Chicago planning for cold weather ahead

November 13, 2011

By LaCreshia Birts

(WBEZ/LaCreshia Birts)
Jill Johnson, left, and Kelly Hayes protest as part of the Occupy Chicago movement.

Organizers of Occupy Chicago are focusing on getting an indoor location for the cold weather ahead. They say they're pulling back on the plan to establish a tent city in Chicago’s Grant Park.

Their first choice?  A place close to the LaSalle and Jackson location where sidewalk protests have gone on for some 50 days. Organizers say the group wants to continue to have a presence there.  Another goal is for a space that is close to CTA and large enough to hold large crowds and storage supplies.

But spoksewoman Cathy Russell says that indoor space would be a hub for Occupy's general assemblies, or daily meetings.

She says the group also hopes to establish a presence in other spaces around the city, as well, saying they want to be wherever the 99 percent is.

Meanwhile, individual protesters are making cold-weather plans of their own.  Occupy regular Maria McKiever says her strategy is,   "Layer, layer, layer. I will continue to come out here when it's cold. It's about going to the Salvation Army and buying socks for 75 cents and putting on as many pairs as you can. They might not be able to see you anymore - you might be a full-blown Eskimo - but as long as they can see your sign."

The National Weather Service says severe temperatures likely will hold off until after the Thanksgiving holiday.

After that it predicts colder-than-normal temperatures for the winter months.

Jill Johnson says she participates in Occupy Chicago daily. I asked her about the months ahead:

"What is probably going to happen is there will be less of a presence during the winter," she said, "but then we’re going to come out strong in the spring.  So we’re not going anywhere. We may not be on the corner all day everyday but we’ll be working and trying to move this forward. “

The National Weather Service says severe temperatures likely will hold off until after the Thanksgiving holiday.

It predicts colder than normal temperatures after that for the winter months.