There are more than 100 inmates seeking freedom because they were victims of a notorious cop torture ring on Chicago’s South Side, run by former Police Lieut. John Burge to force false confessions and railroad workers to prison.
“Some of my opponents in the mayor’s race say that cops wearing cameras is the solution to cop killings,” Fein told fellow protester Valerie Hale, a member of Save Our Sons Ministry. “But the Eric Garner incident was videotaped and that didn’t prevent the Staten Island prosecutor and grand jury from letting the cops who killed him walk. The problem is not the lack of cameras — it’s the fact that the police defend the dictatorship of capital. They serve and protect the propertied owners, not working people. Disciplined mass protests can slow down the cops — that’s why we are here today marching.”
“I’m here because I don’t like ignorance or cop brutality,” Mansfield Whiting, who used to work in a plastics factory and is looking for work, told Fein.
“I’ll take any job at this point,” he said. “How can anyone find a job with a living wage or medical insurance?”
“We must rely on workers’ collective power and solidarity,” Fein said. “The workers movement needs to organize its own political party, a Labor Party, to champion the interests of working people.”
“You have my support,” said Whiting, who volunteered to help get the word out about Fein’s campaign.
Fein, a 69-year-old factory worker and long-time trade unionist, is one of 11 candidates in the Feb. 24 “nonpartisan” election for mayor.
Rahm Emanuel, the incumbent, left his post as White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama to run for mayor in 2011. He led an assault on Chicago teachers, forcing them on strike in 2012. The strike won broad support among working people, who were looking for a way to push back attacks by the employers and city government.
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, another Democrat, is running against Emanuel. Karen Lewis, who was president of the Chicago Teachers Union during the 2012 strike, is backing Garcia, as are other liberals. Lewis had threatened to run against Emanuel herself, but dropped out of the race after she became seriously ill.
If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be an April 7 runoff between the top two contenders.
Fein has been participating in and promoting actions by workers at Walmart, fast-food restaurants and elsewhere fighting for $15 an hour, full-time work and union representation. The Chicago City Council recently approved a proposal from Emanuel to raise the city minimum wage to $13 an hour by June 2019. Instead, Fein demands the city meet the demands of the protesters, and not put it off to the future.
As SWP candidate for governor last fall, Fein joined and built solidarity with striking teachers in Waukegan and auto mechanics at Al Piemonte Chevrolet in East Dundee.
Fein is also campaigning to back the fight of immigrant workers against government efforts to criminalize and deport them. There are 525,000 undocumented workers in the state of Illinois, mostly in the Greater Chicago area.
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