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Jackson: 'Occupy' Peotone To Bring 3rd Airport

CHICAGO (STMW) -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday called for the site of a proposed third area airport in Peotone to be the focus of an "Occupy" protest in order to bring attention to the need for the airport.

Jackson said the construction of the airport, which has been championed by his son, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., will bring an immediate 17,000 jobs to the area.

"We're getting ready to occupy the Peotone airport," he told the crowd at the Saturday Morning Forum at Rainbow-PUSH headquarters on the South Side. "We must make the site of Peotone a site of protest."

Ministers from the South Side and south suburbs who support construction of the airport are planning a "ceremonial groundbreaking" and blessing of the land at the proposed airport site on April 21.

Representatives from the Occupy Chicago movement were on hand at the PUSH forum Saturday morning. A discussion with them and Rev. Jackson touched on Occupy Chicago's efforts in the areas of immigration, labor issues, prison reform, the Chicago Public Schools, and the escalating costs of higher education.

Andy Manos, of Occupy Chicago's Labor Committee, told Jackson that Occupy will be focusing on the possible contract showdown between the Chicago Teachers' Union and CPS. He noted that Occupy has moved from demonstrations in parks, for instance, to workplaces.

Jackson also said Rainbow PUSH is starting a legal defense fund for the family of Howard Morgan, the ex-Chicago Police Officer who was shot 28 times by Chicago Police officers during a 2005 traffic stop. Morgan was sentenced Thursday to 40 years in prison for attempted murder.

Morgan, a former Chicago Police officer, was working as an officer for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line in 2005 when he was shot by the officers, who said Morgan opened fired when they tried to arrest him. He was in the hospital for seven months.

In 2007, a jury acquitted Morgan of aggravated battery and discharging a weapon at a police officer, but deadlocked on four charges of attempted murder. Prosecutors retried the case and in January a second jury found Morgan guilty on the attempted murder counts.

Morgan's cause has drawn the attention of a number of groups, including Occupy Chicago, in part because he is black and the four officers who shot him are white.

Jackson tied Morgan's case to the Trayvon Martin shooting, saying that, "Trayvon is the book cover, but the book is full of pages." Jackson said, "The four officers who shot Howard Morgan are free, the man who got shot is in jail." Tying this to the fatal shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, Jackson said that Martin is dead, while the man who shot him has not been arrested.

Noting that Morgan was a former Chicago police officer, Jackson said if he could be shot by police, then "none of us are safe." Jackson added, "one of the simple messages about Easter is you don't have to be guilty to be crucified."

Tavis Grant, National Field Director for Rainbow PUSH, said, "We're going to fight for (Morgan's family, who were in attendance at PUSH Saturday) until Howard Morgan comes home."

Jackson also called on those who would protest Martin's shooting to make sure they are registered to vote. He said no one would be shot for wearing a hooded sweatshirt, which is what Martin was when he was shot, but if they are not also registered to vote, they "are being hoodwinked."

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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