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Mayor Rahm Emanuel was scheduled to deliver a few remarks Monday evening to celebrate the opening of "Lightscape: A Multisensory Experience," a part of Chicago's Winter WonderLoop festivities. But a group of loud Occupy Chicago protesters seemed to cut his speech short.
As Emanuel discussed Chicago's much-celebrated skyline, a group of protesters began chanting "Let us exercise our First Amendment rights!" The group was marching to City Hall to deliver a petition to Emanuel, asking for a 24-hour place to assemble and that the charges against arrested Occupiers be dropped, Progress Illinois reports.
Emanuel seemed to cut his remarks short and walked off the stage. (Watch NBC Chicago's coverage of the incident above)
Just after 4 p.m., Occupy Chicago tweeted that they "just mic checked Rahm Emanuel off of State & Madison" adding that they were "trying to deliver our petition to Mayor 1% Emanuel."
Last month, Emanuel said he has cooperated with the movement, but would not drop charges against the protesters.
"There's a balancing act," Emanuel said of the arrests last month, according to NBC Chicago. "People have their first amendment right. It's protected and they're expressing their views. And I've expressed my understanding of those economic hardships while making sure the law is enforced."
Occupy Chicago members were slated to meet with Emanuel's staff to discuss a 24-hour place to assemble, but the talks failed, HuffPost blogger Mark Cassello reports.
“Over 300 people were arrested for putting up tents, for saying that freedom of speech does not have a curfew," Joshua Kaunert, an archaeologist and Occupy Chicago Committee member, said in a statement. "If we want to break the stranglehold big business and financial institutions have on our democracy, we need to build an Occupation in the public commons, where individuals, unions, and community organizations can come together to create real change.”
The relationship between the Occupy movement and City Hall has become even more strained in recent weeks, as the 2012 budget was debated and ultimately approved. Protesters say cuts to mental health centers and layoffs will hit minorities and poor Chicagoans the hardest.
To express their frustration, protesters also "mic checked" 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore Monday night, who voted to pass the budget (along with the other 49 city aldermen). The group said cuts to mental health would end up costing taxpayers more, and that after hearing for years that more "would be done with less" they "knew better."
WATCH Occupiers mic check Moore here:
How political leaders are reacting to the Occupy Movement:
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