A group of about 200 Chicago Public Schools students and parents boycotted classes on Wednesday before holding a protest march toward City Hall, in an activist gesture designed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
WBBM-TV reported that the march was also held to call attention to the city’s planned school budget of $5.58 billion, which includes a cut of about $68 million from classroom services that opponents argue targets schools in communities of color.
“If we don’t stop now, this is what’s going to happen for the rest of our lives,” one student, Ashley Haynes, told WBBM. “I was never taught to just sit here and deal with the problems. If I have a problem with something, I’m going to address the problem.”
According to WGN-TV, the protest, part of a group of demonstrations in 25 cities around the country against school budget cuts, was quickly criticized by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“I do not think it’s appropriate to advocate that children stay out of school,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday. “You wanna make a statement? Go to the courtroom. Don’t take it to the classroom.
Watch WBBM’s report on the boycott, aired Wednesday, below.