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Protesters gather on the escalator at Ogilvie Transportation Center to call for peace in Gaza

Protesters gather at Accenture Tower above Ogilvie Transportation Center calling for peace in Gaza on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.

Anthony Vazquez

Protesters demanding peace in Gaza block escalators above Ogilvie Transportation Center

Hundreds of protesters chanting “ceasefire now” blocked escalators to the Israel consulate Monday morning above the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

The protest did not significantly affect the morning commute. While entrances to the building at 500 W. Madison St. were closed, commuters were able to enter and exit the platforms through the Canal and Clinton street exits, a Metra spokesperson said.

Carrying signs and wearing T-shirts that read “Not in our name,” the protesters moved outside the Accenture Tower around 10:30 a.m. Organizers from the Chicago chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow and Never Again Action said the protest was the largest Midwest gathering of Jews in solidarity with Palestinians.

Police said more than 100 protesters were arrested for trespassing. Demonstrators who were arrested were led out of the building to cheers of “we love you” and “ceasefire now.”

More than 11,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and minors, have been killed since the war began, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. At least 1,200 people have died in Israel, mostly civilians killed in the initial Hamas attack.

The U.S. House of Representatives this month passed a $14 billion aid package for Israel, and Kansas City resident Michael Wolfe said protesters don’t want the bill to pass in the Senate.

“We need everybody to be calling their representatives and emailing them, calling the Biden administration and emailing them every day until we get a ceasefire,” Wolfe said.

In a statement sent to the Sun-Times, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Yinam Cohen questioned the protesters’ commitment to peace and praised American support for Israel. “We are overwhelmed by the endless support for Israel by millions of Americans, Jews and non-Jews alike,” he said.

Illinois State Sen. Robert Peters said he converted to Judaism last year after finding his biological father and discovering he is Jewish. Peters said at the protest that he felt “profound concern and anger” as he watched the Israeli response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

“I knew the massive humanitarian crisis that is still unfolding in Gaza will not make the world safer for Jews,” Peters said. “I know nationalist impulses don’t do anything to stop anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism. They never have and they never will.”

Peters said “violence begets more violence” and pointed to anti-violence efforts in Chicago as examples of strategies that can be used for peace.

“We are all afraid, but I don’t want the consumption of our fears and collective intergenerational trauma to cause us to become reactionary.”

Ariel Levin, who drove in from Iowa City, said the protest was an energizing experience.

“My plan is to take the energy and the message I’ve received here from being with Jews from Chicago and across the Midwest and going back to Iowa and continuing to organize with other Jews and people there as well,” Levin said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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