CHICAGO, March 28 (UPI) -- Some 127 people were cited during a rally and march in downtown Chicago to protest the planned closing of scores of neighborhood schools, officials said.
Teachers, school workers, civic leaders and parents and students gathered Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate against a decision by school officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to close 53 schools considering under-performing, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teacher's Union, charged the decision as to what schools should close was "racist" because many of them were in African-American neighborhoods.
After a rally at Daley Plaza, protestors marched to City Hall, where police said 127 people were ticketed for blocking the southbound lanes of LaSalle Street.
Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement that closing the schools would allow the children to go to schools "with all investments they need to thrive in the classroom."
The district said the closings were necessary to deal with a projected $1 billion budget shortfall.
The size of the crowd was difficult to determine. Police estimated the crowd at 700 to 900, while a CTU spokesman said "low estimates" placed the crowed at 5,000, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Police said the crowd might have grown to 2,000 by the time it reached City Hall.