On a day when Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the time for negotiations on school closings was over, the Chicago Teachers Union led hundreds of supporters in a highly orchestrated downtown rally and march as part of its continuing efforts to derail the district's plan to shut 53 elementary schools.
CTU President Karen Lewis was cheered when she took the microphone at Daley Plaza late Wednesday afternoon and repeated her argument that the Chicago Public Schools' decision to close schools with predominantly African-American enrollments is racist.
"Let's not pretend that when you close schools on the South and West sides, the children affected aren't black," Lewis said. "Let's not pretend that's not racist."
In an event rife with political symbolism, the size of the crowd was anybody's guess. The official police estimate was 700 to 900 people, according to the department's news affairs office. A CTU spokeswoman said the union was "appalled" by the department's number, saying between 5,000 and 6,500 were on hand.