CHICAGO - "Corporate malfeasants have caused hardship for millions of working families while they line their pockets. NATO is not welcome here. This town is our town." Former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello said these words as he wrapped up a day of action on May 18 with the National Nurses United. They gathered at Daley Plaza on a sun-filled afternoon to note the problems caused by the one percent, and to highlight the fight against austerity measures hurting families worldwide.
The nurses assembled, wearing green 'Robin Hood' caps to show their support of the Robin Hood tax, a proposed taxing of Wall Street transactions, which would generate hundreds of billions of dollars and give the U.S. economy a major boost. NNU speakers also spoke out against the NATO summit, which took place here in the Windy City this weekend, and a comedic skit was also performed, in which 'Robin Hood and the nurses' scoured the trees for the G8 world leaders, who 'decided to run off into the woods of Maryland' due to the public outcry they faced by Chicagoans.
Morello finished off the event with a 30-minute mini-show, during which he performed songs including "This Land is Your Land."
"For 20 years," said Morello, "I've been part of the [Los Angeles] musicians' union Local 147. But Chicago's my favorite city in the world. It's an honor to be back in my hometown with the Nurses Union."
He added, "The mayor's office tried to shut this thing down." Here he referred to the issue that occurred when he had originally announced his participation in the event: The city had threatened to move the rally to a less visible location, in which less people would have been able to gather, to boot. But in response, the collective outcry of Morello, the Nurses, and much of the public, was too powerful, and the gathering was allowed to continue as originally planned in Daley Plaza.
"They couldn't shut us down, because we stood up," said Morello. In the end, he remarked, "It was a few politicians, their skeevy lawyers, and some trembling NATO generals who caved in. If NATO, the defender of the free world, is afraid of a musician with an acoustic guitar and some nurses, we're in a lot of trouble. We present no threat to the city of Chicago. The only people who have anything to fear are the moneyed interests who have tried to shut us up."
During an interview with Rolling Stone, Morello elaborated on his friendship with the NNU: "My support for the working class is well documented, but, in particular, the grotesque economic inequality that plagues our country and our planet needs to be addressed head-on. And the Nurses Union are one of the louder voices doing it.
"Wall Street has torpedoed the global economy and caused distress for countless millions of families - while at the same time, their executives are giving themselves millions of dollars in bonuses. It's absolutely wrong."
The event and its guitar-shredding conclusion saw nurses and workers of all ages and ethnicities, and from all walks of life, joining together and cheering Morello's encouraging words.
When the city tried to prevent this event from happening, Morello proudly declared, the people "looked [city officials] in the eye and said, 'F*ck you, I won't do what ya tell me!'"
Photo: John Bachtell/PW