Duel abortion protesters occupied the streets and sidewalks of the Loop for hours on Saturday afternoon, with a line of Chicago police bike units attempting to tear the two sides apart as they chanted competitive slogans.
After the anti-abortion “March for Life Chicago” rally at Federal Plaza, in total, hundreds of protesters from both movements flowed down city main streets such as Michigan Avenue, where the Tastings of the Chicago Food Festival was taking place.
March for Life protesters occupied the main streets, while officers on the sidewalk prevented protesters from approaching, although at times some people tried to steal police bikes between the two sides. One woman, angrily blocking her, shouted at the officers, while another male lieutenant wrapped his hand around his waist and pushed him back onto the sidewalk.
The crowd was divided into a sea of yellow umbrellas – a symbol of protest for abortion rights – and a mass of green, the worldwide color of the abortion rights movement. Some advocates of the latter cause marched sideways carrying a large green banner reading “We will not go back”.
The protests followed a US Supreme Court decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade and end nearly 50 years of constitutional protection for abortion. In the absence of a landmark 1973 case guaranteeing the right to terminate a pregnancy, the case for abortion legislation falls to the states. Illinois leaders have sought to reassure residents and other Midwesterners that the state will remain a haven for abortion.
Earlier in the day, March for Life was set up in Federal Plaza, with four large speaker systems hanging from a stage to ensure that the voices of its representatives would bounce for blocks. The organization’s executive director, Kevin Grillot, thanked supporters for not giving up, saying, “After 49 long years, Roe vs. Wade is gone.” There was applause in the rally crowd.
Grillot then attempted to hold a moment of silence for all abortions performed in America, although the protestors had already interrupted the calm with chants of “Abortion Rights in Every State, 2, 4, 6, 8” and was interrupted.
Another speaker who identified herself as “Jennifer” began sharing her story of regretting the abortion. A group of motorcyclists in favor of abortion restarted their engines in an attempt to get her out, but she ended her speech.
As the speaker continued to walk, verbal skirmishes broke out at the corner of Federal Plaza. A small group of pro-abortion protesters, shouting “My body, my choice,” followed a man shouting slogans against abortion rights with a megaphone and someone else said, “Take your feet off.”
Eventually, a Chicago police lieutenant told the defendants to leave the area or be subject to arrest, a directive that the crowd complied with as police set up a bike perimeter around an anti-abortion rally.
The top story from the editors of the Chicago Tribune, delivered to your inbox each afternoon.
“Our Constitution says everyone has the right to life, and abortion takes away life. So it’s as simple as that,” a woman from Medina, Illinois, who identified herself as “Nancy,” told only one interview. said in. “The naivety of these people, to think that they are not killing anyone.”
Meanwhile, Jay Baker, an organizer for Rise Up 4 abortion rights, dismissed the conservative-leaning Supreme Court as “totally illegitimate” during a rally at Daly Plaza that took place before the march to demonstrate Life.
“Two weeks ago, a hammer fell on us,” Baker told the crowd. “These Christian fascists dressed in black put the value of a clump of cells above half the population.”
One of the younger abortion rights protesters in the crowd was Destiny Vasquez, a 17-year-old student at George Washington High School on the Southeast side. She said she has been organizing the moment for the past year and is concerned that the Supreme Court’s ruling will affect people of color the most.
“I don’t know why they’re going against basic human rights,” Vasquez said of the March for Life rallygoers. “If they really care about life, they’ll care about what happened after that baby was born. We lack formula, lack food. So scarcity-wise and what we do in real life Happening, not concentrating on it.”
A Chicago Police spokesman said no arrests were made during the demonstration.