Occupy Chicago: Arrests, Student Loans, and John Carlos

The Olympics great, human-rights activist, and track coach stops by Occupy Chicago during an eventful weekend for the protest, as its message seems to get traction at the highest levels.

* On Saturday John Carlos, the bronze medal-winning sprinter (and godfather of White Sox GM Kenny Williams) famous for his black-power salute at the 1968 Olympics, stopped by Occupy Chicago with writer Dave Zirin:

This might seem odder to me if I wasn’t engrossed in Brad Snyder’s A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports. It’s a fascinating account of how the Cardinals center fielder fought the reserve clause and how his decision to do so emerged out of the civil-rights movement and the broader political tensions of the 1960s (Carlos and Tommie Smith make a cameo). Most interesting to me is how players fought or only quietly supported Flood, despite the fact that his efforts were intended to greatly increase their bargaining power, and would later lead to the enormous salaries professional athletes make today. It’s also fascinating to see the owners portray the repeal of wildly uncompetitive anti-free-market practices as an affront to capitalism.

Zirin, a left-wing sportswriter, is well worth reading on the intersections between politics, labor, and athletics; he’s published a couple books with the local Haymarket Books.

* Some evidence that Occupy Wall Street and We Are the 99 Percent has gotten legislative traction: President Obama is set to announce some revisions to student loan practices. They’re pretty minor in the grand scheme of things—fee reduction and the elimination of refinancing fees—but it suggests that the administration has some awareness of the importance of student loan debt to OWS, not to mention the debt load that’s a drag on the economy.

* After Occupy Chicago protesters were arrested for being in Grant Park too late, nurses are planning on protesting, as two of their own were among those rounded up. The actions seem totally reasonable on both ends; arrests are part of the life cycle of a notable protest.

* Interest is leveling off, say the Internet numbers. Take it as you will.

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