Around 12:30 this afternoon, a bunch of us here at my office were staring out the window, craning our necks northward to Jackson Boulevard, where the street was blocked off and a motorcade of unmarked police cars was leading today's march for immigrant rights. The crowd was still coming, three hours later.
If that wasn't half a million people, I'll eat my sombrero.
I took my lunch hour to go out and see the crowd. There was a large contingent of organized Muslims, with placards saying "Unite Families" on one side and "Muslims Support the American Dream" on the other. I also spotted Korean drummers, Irish and Polish contingents carrying flags, a couple of my Catholic Worker pals on bicycles, Fr. Bruce and Sister Angie from Holy Cross, and some friends with kids at Pierce Elementary on the North Side, where 150 kids and parents took off. (And that is a pretty muticultural school.)
Last night I was walking down 47th Street and saw lots of signs in the windows announcing stores would be closed today to honor the marchers and their efforts. When I got home, Julian and Chava were out on the front porch next door. They said they were going today. I was so sad to see so many friends but not run into my neighbors. Well, even my luck running into people at demonstrations could run out in a crowd of half a million.
Some more sights: t-shirts with an Uncle Sam-style fist and finger pointing, but words that said: "Hey, Pilgrim! Who you calling illegal!"
A Mexican-American guy taking pictures with his cell phone at the corner of Jackson and Michigan. "Since this whole thing came up, I've been taking some crap at work, but I just tell the guys, 'I'm a Buckeye from Ohio, born and bred,'" he told me. He was surprised I knew enough Spanish to explain "Si se puede" to another bystander.
People chanting the "USA! USA!" cheer. It's the first time ever I've been psyched about cheering "USA" --usually those folks are morons at football games or something.
A few signs saying: "The giant wasn't sleeping, the giant was working," in both English and Spanish.
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