Protesters, politicians gather in solidarity with Ukraine: ‘We will not abandon them’

A rally to support Ukraine as it fights back against a Russian invasion drew hundreds to downtown Chicago Sunday.

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Hundreds gathered at the Water Tower on Sunday, March 27, 2022, to show support for Ukraine and condemn Russia’s invasion of the country.

Hundreds gathered at the Water Tower on Sunday to show support for Ukraine and condemn Russia’s invasion of the country.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Just about a month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of Chicagoans once again gathered in solidarity with Ukraine and called for continued U.S. support for the embattled nation.

Dozens of blue and yellow Ukrainian flags flew above a crowd of hundreds standing at the base of the Water Tower while community leaders and politicians made speeches from the top of the stairs.

“These people are trying in every way possible to preserve their families, their homes and their love of Ukraine,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “Can we do anything less than to stand out here on a chilly day, in the sunshine, in a peaceful setting and pledge our solidarity to the same cause? No. We need to stand together.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was among the speakers at a rally Sunday, March 27, 2022 to show support for Ukraine. The crowd gathered at the Water Tower, then marched to Millennium Park.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was among the speakers at a rally Sunday to show support for Ukraine. The crowd gathered at the Water Tower, then marched to Millennium Park.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who’s of Ukrainian descent, also pledged her support when she spoke to the crowd.

“I understand you want more, we all want more, we want to see the defeat once and for all of Vladimir Putin,” Schakowsky said.

Attendee Larissa Iwankiw, whose sister and other family members are in Ukraine, said she will continue showing up for Ukraine until the war is over.

“We will not forget and we will not stop,” Iwankiw, 65, said. “I grew up here, I went to Ukrainian school, I go to a Ukrainian church, our children speak both [Ukrainian and English]. Just because we are here doesn’t mean we will ever forget. We will not abandon them.”

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., speaks out against President Vladimir Putin during a rally on Sunday, March 27, 2022 to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The rally was held at the Water Tower on the Gold Coast.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., speaks out against President Vladimir Putin during a rally on Sunday to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The rally was held at the Water Tower on the Gold Coast.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Serhiy Koledov, Ukraine’s consul general in Chicago, called on the U.S. government and NATO to help Ukraine by establishing a no-fly zone over the country, providing military aircraft and tanks, cutting remaining economic ties with Russia, and more.

“Russian forces can keep killing thousands of our citizens, destroying our cities,” Koledov said. “Further actions need to be done immediately.”

Also speaking at the rally were U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd).

Hopkins, whose constituents include residents of Chicago’s Ukrainian Village community, told the crowd to continue holding himself and other politicians accountable.

“Patience in the face of mass murder would be insanity,” Hopkins said. “Forbearance, while innocent children are being killed, would be unacceptable.”

The group marched from the Water Tower, into the Loop and on to Millennium Park, chanting “close the sky,” “U.S.A. support Ukraine,” among other things.

As the rally concluded, the Ukrainian national anthem rang through the park. Protesters sang in unison as blue and yellow smoke enveloped the Cloud Gate sculpture.

Smoke in blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, filled the air as Ukraine’s national anthem was sung in Millennium Park on Sunday.

Smoke in blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, filled the air as Ukraine’s national anthem was sung in Millennium Park on Sunday.

Katie Anthony/Sun-Times

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