Activists rally in Federal Plaza ahead of Biden inauguration

“We’re here because we know that this country is still facing innumerable crises,” said Victoria Cervantes, one of the rally’s organizers and a coordinator of the human rights group La Voz de los de Abajo. “We know that the inequity, the institutionalized racism, violence, poverty, problems from A to Z, are still facing us.

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Victoria Cervantes speaks at Federal Plaza in the Loop on Tuesday about needed change from the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration on the eve of their inauguration Wednesday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A group of a few dozen liberal activists gathered in Federal Plaza on Tuesday afternoon to call on President-elect Joe Biden and incoming Vice President Kamala Harris to take concrete steps in addressing a host of inequities felt by people across the country.

The 50-or-so who gathered under the Flamingo sculpture spoke out on a variety of complex issues, including abortion rights, criminal justice reform, access to health care and housing, as well as the environment.

“We’re here because we know that this country is still facing innumerable crises,” said Victoria Cervantes, one of the rally’s organizers and a coordinator of the human rights group La Voz de los de Abajo. “We know that the inequity, the institutionalized racism, violence, poverty, problems from A to Z, are still facing us.

“God knows we are all tired, worn out by Trump, and we all want to have hope,” she added. “But we know that you can’t just have hope, you have to fight for what you need.”

As speakers addressed reporters, other organizers worked to arrange and light candles in paper bags that eventually encircled the group. The candles were lit as part of a nationwide tribute to the more than 400,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic’s outbreak 10 months ago.

About two dozen Chicago police officers kept an eye on the rally from the Dirksen Federal Courthouse across the street from Federal Plaza.

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Kobi Guillory speaks out against white supremacy during a rally at Federal Plaza in the Loop on Tuesday, the eve of the Biden-Harris inauguration.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Kobi Guillory, of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, said that while white supremacists garnered more attention during the Trump administration, the roots of their bigotry run deep.

“We understand that white supremacy did not start with the election of Donald Trump,” Guillory said. “But white supremacy has been around for 400 years, and white supremacy will not disappear tomorrow.”

Benita Ulisano, of the Illinois Choice Action Team, a reproductive rights group, noted that access to abortion was a frequent topic throughout the presidential campaign, and she urged her fellow rally-goers to hold the new administration’s feet to the fire.

“Biden and Harris made our issue a focal point in their debates and said we are going to protect peoples’ right to choose,” Ulisano said. “Well now that they talked the talk, we’re gonna demand that they walk the walk because many times we get caught up by centrist Democrats who do not have our best interests at heart.“

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