Man leading many Chicago protests identifies as Communist

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CHICAGO -- No doubt you have seen the protests in the streets of Chicago the last six months. So who are these people blocking traffic, shoppers and face to face with police for a cause?

WGN Investigates looked into them and found a few who follow the lead of an old foe of the United States.

Whether you believe in their cause – or not. Whether you support their methods – or not. The young protesters of today -- and, for that matter, the cops' reaction to them -- look and feels different than protests in the past.

It’s not 1968. But when you fast forward to 2016 and look at the faces, we asked, "Who the heck is this guy?," as he stands shouting in the streets, “Justice for Quintonio."

You can see he’s some kind of throwback to the '60s. A grey haired white guy leading a group of young black men and women protestors.

It turns out his name is Grant Newburger – and he has quite a story to tell.

When asked if it was fair to call him a Communist, Newburger smiled and said, “Yes. Absolutely."

You read that right: Newburger is the leader of Chicago’s chapter of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

We read from the constitution that he follows: In order to create a new socialist state it would be necessary to defeat, dismantle and abolish the capitalist imperialist state of the U.S. We asked him if that’s his goal when he goes out to protest regularly? Newburger responds, that is part of a building movement to a revolution.

Yes, a Communist revolution. Where he sees fighting the power to transform the United States for the people. And he’s been pushing his Communist revolution on the streets of Chicago for decades.

It even dates back to when he was calling it “urban cleansing” as Cabrini-Green came down.

He has marched against the Iraq War, police shootings in Ferguson and here. He says there is no shortage of causes to keep him marching on the streets. But when you look out at the crowd he’s with, it’s a varied group with different agendas uniting against police shootings. A few of the young protesters have joined the Revolutionary Communist Party. Newburger says, yes, he’s teaching them but they also teach him, even after 40 years of protests.

And even though his revolution hasn’t come true yet, he feels like they make progress. Like, the firing of the police superintendent, the fact that State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez got defeated in the election.

When asked, though, if he understands the people’s anger when they’re stuck in traffic watching him block their street, he responds this way:

“Yes we say which side are you on. We say police murder and terror must stop and everyone has to take a side and responsibility for that ... And we actually find a lot of people who we’re blocking in traffic honking and giving us the fist and other people yes they’re furious but they’re thinking about it.

"Thinking why is it worth it for people to go out and risk arrest. Go out in the street and block traffic. What is so important to these people? And it puts something in their minds and it challenges them what side are you on."

Newburger’s next appearance for the obstruction of traffic charge is April 15. He says he’ll have to take time out from his regular job as a computer programmer to attend the hearing at 2 p.m. that afternoon.

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