Chicago's Science March delivers hope, joy and determination



Despite the threats to and dire predictions for the well being of science in this country, Science March Chicago participants on Saturday said the event was cathartic and it left them with joy, hope and determination. 


Source: Sharon Jaffess and Patricia Browne

"The attacks on science, facts, logical debate – and attacks on the budgets that support education and scientific research – did not start with the Trump administration. We have been fighting this for years in Washington," says the only Congressional Ph. D. scientist, Bill Foster, U.S. Congressman from Illinois' 11th District.  

Describing the science and education budget as a "political football," he goes on to say, "Republicans now routinely ignore established scientific facts to score their political points. During the last session of Congress they established a Select Committee to justify de-funding Planned Parenthood – equipped with a handpicked Republican majority.


Source: Sharon Jaffess and Patricia Browne

"When their report came out, it contained multiple outrageous fallacies, such as 'In over 100 years of unrestricted clinical research, human fetal tissue has failed to provide a single medical treatment…' This came as a surprise to those receiving fetal-cell derived treatments for cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and even polio vaccines. Fact checkers went ballistic."

Created in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has little more than 15,000  employees nationwide. Part of the agency for 32 years, one attorney points out 500 to 800 retire every year. Right now 3,000 are eligible to retire, but "they love what they do and they are not looking to exercise that option," said the attorney. 


Source: Sharon Jaffess and Patricia Browne

With Scott Pruitt, as the Administrator of the EPA, the proposed plan is to cut 31% of the EPA's budget to $5.7 billion from $8.1 billion and to eliminate a quarter of the agency's jobs.

If the EPA is dismantled and other science based funding is slashed from the Federal budget, many people's careers may come to a screeching halt. Some of these workers have stayed in their careers for three and four decades, not because of money, but because of passion and commitment. 



Many are depressed, scared, not just because of losing their income but because all the good that has been done can be reversed. 

"We could start seeing black air again and watch water burn," one man has said. 

These concerns are not just from people working in the EPA. They are from scientific researchers who are working on cures for diseases, medical personnel, educators etc. They are from parents and grandparents who worry about their families and from individuals who like smoke-free environments and the ability to drink water from the tap.




The March
By Saturday noon, the Chicago Police were asking people on their way to Grant Park to stay away from the march that began at 10 a.m. because the crowds were growing so fast. It has been reported that more than 40,000 people were in Chicago's march. Here and in the 600 some marches around the world, the events were peaceful. 

"A loud and clear message was sent: the American people want a government that believes in evidence and fact-based decision making," says Foster. 

Signs were the talk of those in attendance and those observing from afar. Some expressions were political but many were not. They weren't fake they were clever, thoughtful, to the point. [Thanks to people among the masses who provided the sign images in this story.]



How did it feel to go there?
"There was a building sense of anticipation going down there on the Blue Line," said Patrick Ryan Chestnut, one of the West Town Indivisible* founders. "It was cool to see my neighbors increasing in numbers at every street intersection as we walked to the Blue Line.

"Downtown it was raucous, boisterous and fun but well organized. There were so many different kinds of people, which was expressed in their clothes and signs. 

"I feel encouraged. Many kind of people continue to fight, so I am hopeful and realistic." 


Source: Sharon Jaffess and Patricia Browne

"Preparation for the March and the event helped relieve and dissipate my stress," said the EPA attorney. "Even kids were helping decorate signs being made in Starbucks before the March. The signs were amazing."

What are the results?
"People are asking me, 'What can I do?' and I am telling them to contact EVERY public official and tell them what you feel, demand," advised the attorney. "It is clear that people want a clean environment. The EPA did NOT write the laws, we are here to enforce them."



"It feels as though, we have taken too much for granted, and now it's time to come out and stand together for our core values and ideas," says Chestnut.

"When we get engaged, we can create the world we want. My hope is that this massive support is not a onetime burst but a renewal of a civic fabric."

 *The West Town Indivisible group is one of the newer Chicago Indivisible groups




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