About 600 protesters marched past the crisp awnings and gleaming boutique fronts of downtown Winnetka Tuesday yelling, “If we don’t get it, shut it down!”
As the protesters approached her women’s clothing store, Katie Cory quickly whisked her sidewalk sales rack inside.
“Let’s get this off the sidewalk and give them a little room,” she said, somewhat taken aback by the size of the protest. She said she knew nothing about the reason for the march.
The protesters came mostly from the South and West sides of Chicago to march to one of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s homes in this posh North Shore community. They are angry at “significant” cuts over the last two years to a state program that helps working families pay for day care. The marchers are also concerned about what they see as a too-hasty rollout of new training for day care providers.
“This is a program that can’t sustain further cuts,” said Brynn Seibert, director of the childcare division for SEIU Healthcare Illinois. The union is among investors that recently purchased the Chicago Sun-Times.
The activists wound their way through Winnetka’s leafy residential streets, past pristine homes behind deep front yards.
Several locals said they’d never seen anything quite like Tuesday’s march.
“The most excitement we had was when they came through with a flame for the Olympics,” said Laura De Croocq, who lived in Winnetka for 51 years before recently moving to Evanston.
The protesters reached Rauner’s home. No one came out to greet them.
Several protesters took a look at their surroundings and wondered how their issues might resonate in a community of multi-million-dollar homes.
“It is ultimately a human issue,” said Toni Power, 44, of Calumet Heights. “These people — their landscapers have children in Chicago too. I’m sure they have a Walmart, a Target and a grocery store. The employees of these chains do not own these houses.”
Though she may be the governor’s neighbor, one woman said she doesn’t necessarily agree with all of his policies.
“Their are a lot of people in this neighborhood who see tremendous problems with growing inequality,” said Winnetka resident Katie Scullion, 50. “And we need a government that will help address this problem.”