Rahm's Rent-A-Protest pickets outside CPS, then at Merchandise Mart against Chicago Teachers Union and in support of the 'Longer School Day' (Rahm Emanuel version)
For at least the third time in two months, the groups many union members are now calling "Rahm's Rent-A-Protest" picketed outside the Chicago Board of Education headquarters at 125 S. Clark St., and then went a half mile north to picket the headquarters of the Chicago Teachers Union at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The protesters told observers, who asked to remain anonymous, that they were paid $25 and a bus ride to picket with signs calling for a longer school day and year for Chicago elementary schools.
The pickets on October 24, 2011, marked at least the third time in less than two months that Rahm's Rental Ranters had showed up at public events. They have appeared in front of the Board of Education carrying the same signs ("90 more minutes, two more weeks") since August. Many of those organizing the protests come from a group of preachers who have been subsidized by Chicago's mayor through various city programs over the years. Most recently, the preachers in question were feted at a breakfast at Sox Park ("U.S. Cellular Field") in August, prior to their preaching in favor of the longer school day in their churches and circulating a petition in their congregations on behalf of Emanuel's attack on the Chicago Teachers Union. Emanuel utilized the preacher petition on September 8, 2011, as evidence of widespread support for his position during a City Council meeting at which the Council vote in favor of a resolution on the Longer School Day introduced by Alderman Latasha Thomas.
The October 24 pickets were interviewed by several union members, and in the course of the interviews, the pickets told the union members that they had been paid to go downtown and protest for the longer school day. A request by Substance in August 2011 for information about who paid for the preacher breakfast at Sox Park was denied by CPS under the Freedom of Information Act. CPS has an "Office of Faith Based Initiatives" which coordinated the August event and is suspected of organizing (and perhaps funding) the current rounds of protests.
One of the most dramatic parts of the September 2011 protests came on September 8, when more than a dozen young black children exited a bus on the LaSalle St. side of City Hall, each taking a sign that said "90 more minutes. Two more weeks." When asked by Substance what school they attended, they refused to answer. Finally, one of the adults with them said they were from the Promise Christian Academy, a private school. The children were unable to explain why they had been taken out of their classes at the Christian school to protest at City Hall on behalf of a proposal before City Council regarding the public schools.
Rahm's Rent A Protest obviously places a premium on offering dramatic television shots of African American and other minority adults and children supporting Chicago's mayor in his attacks on the Chicago Teachers Union. Most Chicago news reporters have failed to ask the protesters who they are, where they are from, and whether they are being paid to carry signs supporting Rahm Emanuel.