Last week in my neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side, I spotted some individuals who didn’t look like they were from around here.
While walking down the street Monday morning, my girlfriend ran into some guy who also appeared out of place.
While I hear there are some burglars operating in this part of town, I guessed these were probably the vanguard of thousands of protesters expected to arrive in the Windy City for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit over the next few days.
And tonight, with seemingly nothing else better to do, a group of protesters chose- of all places- to hang out behind my building, which is adjacent to railroad tracks belonging to the regional train system (Metra).
Turning in somewhat early tonight (10:45 PM- long week, not much sleep), I heard loud voices coming from somewhere outside. Seeing that this is a Friday evening, in which my building/neighborhood is typically hopping, I assumed one of the neighbors was having people over. But while closing up shop, I spotted several individuals partially-secluded by bushes just beyond the parking lot and some landscaping that comprises my “backyard.” I originally thought they were some local teens who sometimes hang out there sharing a cigarette, but these voices sounded older. Buttoning up the rest of my pad for the night I noticed that this obnoxiously-loud group still hadn’t left several minutes later. Around 11 PM, a Metra passenger train barreled down the line- at which point one of these schmucks rushed the tracks in a mock suicide attempt. Probably guessing that train operators called the incident in, five young men emerged from the dark and spilled out into my backyard- but not before one of them tried to rip a young tree out from the edge of the parking pad. Not having the strength to remove this perennial from the ground, another person came over to help his defeated buddy.
Needless to say… Charlie Brown’s X-Mas Tree 1, Wimpy Dudes 0.
Shortly thereafter, the small group finally exited the parking lot down a side drive and onto the main thoroughfare in front of my building.
So who were these chumps? Almost certainly NATO Summit protesters judging by their backpacks. I also think they were underage considering the many popular waterholes located just down the street from me.
Hopefully, these guys won’t be back tomorrow night. But I intend to stick around just in case their aspirations go beyond trying to dismantle a menacing young tree.
Leaders from around the world are gathering in Chicago this spring for an important diplomatic summit hosted by President Barack Obama. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will hold meetings in Chicago from May 20-21, allowing the city to highlight its economic vitality, its arts and architecture, and its can-do spirit.
• This will be the first time an American city other than Washington has hosted a NATO summit.
• About 2,000 journalists from across the world are expected in Chicago to chronicle the events.
-From the Official Host Committee Website for the Chicago NATO Summit
It’s still a couple of days before the NATO Summit kicks-off here in Chicago, but activity related to the meetings is picking up. From Maudlyne Ihejirika and Rummana Hussain yesterday on the Chicago Sun-Times website:
After assessing the protests held thus far as a lead-up to the NATO Summit, “I think we’re off to a pretty good start,” Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Wednesday.
That was after another day that saw protests downtown, including an Occupy Chicago-organized rally and march by about 150 people Wednesday morning, where participants demanded a year-long moratorium on foreclosure evictions in Cook County.
By Wednesday afternoon, McCarthy said, his police department had overseen four major protests he said involved less than 300 people — and made 12 arrests…
However, he said, “So far, the events have been orderly. We’re equipped. We’re trained. And at this point, we feel that we’re off to a good, successful start, and we’re actually excited to get this done.”
Partly due to the small sizes and relative calm of these initial protests, some are suggesting the summit- and forecasts of tens of thousands of protesters seriously-impacting law and order around the city- has been overhyped. Brian C. Thomas blogged in Your Doubting Thomas (part of the Chicago Tribune’s ChicagoNow website) yesterday:
Here we are. NATO week. Our media has been in a collective frenzy about NATO and the commensurate mass protests and road closures. For over a month, NATO has been the story with underlying fear and trepidation.
I want to yell at the television: Hey! We’re Chicagoans, we got this!
Major cities close down when there is half inch of snow– we’re open for business the day after getting dumped with 30 inches– guys, we can handle a couple protesters.
A word of advice, Brian. Don’t yell at the TV- lest you want your significant other to give you endless grief about it.
And here’s some anonymous comments I came across while reading a May 15 post on the unofficial Chicago Police Department blog Second City Cop:
• “There will be loser protesters but not near as many as they think.”
• “Personally, I’m not intimidated by a bunch of aging hippies and school aged narcissists.”
• “All they have to do is lock their mother’s basements where these malcontent idiots live and that will be about 50% fewer protesters out there spewing their nonsense and causing trouble.”
Mooooooommmmmm!!! All kidding aside, who knows how many protesters will be showing up in the Windy City to protest these meetings. But they’re already arriving. From Kim Janssen on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday afternoon:
They’re here, and more are coming — lots more.
The first major busload of out-of-town anti-NATO protesters arrived in Chicago Wednesday evening.
Sixteen hours after they pulled off from a dark New York street corner at 4 a.m., more than 40 tired but excited Occupy Wall Street activists stepped down onto a leafy Lincoln Park block at 7 p.m. wearing Robin Hood masks…
An additional 16 buses — funded, like the Occupy Wall Street bus, out of a $218,000 donation from anonymous donors and National Nurses United — are due to arrive in time for Friday’s “Robin Hood Tax” rally from Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Providence and Washington, D.C.
While those who dismiss the upcoming NATO Summit and its “hype” are entitled to do so, it might be best to wait and see how things play out. There are a number of X-factors out there that probably don’t register on the radars of casual observers of these events.
Skinny Puppy, “Pro-Test” (2004)
Hussain, Rummana and Ihejirika, Maudlyne. “Top cop on NATO: ‘We’re off to a pretty good start.’” Chicago Sun-Times. 16 May 2012. (http://www.suntimes.com/news/12568934-418/top-cop-on-nato-were-off-to-a-pretty-good-start.html). 17 May 2012.
Thomas, Brian C. “Chicago and NATO: Have we proven we’re a first class cow town?” Your Doubting Thomas. 16 May 2012. (http://www.chicagonow.com/your-doubting-thomas/2012/05/chicago-and-nato-have-we-proven-we%E2%80%99re-a-first-class-cow-town/). 17 May 2012.
SCC. “It Begins.” Second City Cop. 15 May 2012. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2012/05/it-begins.html). 17 May 2012.
Janssen, Kim. “Busloads of protesters head to Chicago for NATO Summit.” Chicago Sun-Times. 16 May 2012. (http://www.suntimes.com/12572016-417/busloads-of-protesters-head-to-chicago-for-nato-summit.html). 17 May 2012.
And so it’s begun. This past Saturday, a march and rally were held across the city and suburbs of Chicago as part of “Chicago Spring,” which is to culminate in planned protests at May’s scheduled NATO Summit in Chicago. Evelyn Holmes and Eric Horng wrote on the website of ABC affiliate Channel 7 Chicago on April 7:
A march and rally across the city were the focus of what organizers called the kickoff of “Chicago Spring.”
Occupy Chicago called Saturday a citywide day of action. Groups all across the city rallied in 13 neighborhoods. Some events were in Chicago’s suburbs, as well. Those gathered talked about a number issues, like foreclosures, residents’ visions for their communities and genocide.
Afterwards, hundreds converged in the Loop and walked to Butler Field in Grant Park for a festival they said will help unify in the battles of the “99 percent.”
Channel 7 Chicago Video
Only 40 more days until the start of the NATO Summit, but as you can see, things are picking up in the “Windy City.” The City of Chicago is even getting its act together. From John Byrne on the Chicago Tribune website on April 7:
Expensive, state-of-the-art solar-powered garbage receptacles are being pulled from around downtown Chicago before next month’s NATO summit in favor of old-fashioned wire trash cans that police can more easily check for anything dangerous.
Holmes, Evelyn and Horng, Eric. “Occupy Chicago kicks off ‘Chicago Spring’ with rallies.” Channel 7 Chicago. 7 Apr. 2012. (http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8612590). 10 Apr. 2012.
Byrne, John. “NATO summit prompts city to yank solar-powered garbage barrels.” Chicago Tribune. 7 Apr. 2012. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-07/news/ct-met-nato-trash-cans-20120407_1_solar-powered-garbage-bigbelly-nato-summit). 10 Apr. 2012.
The days sure are flying. And in nine weeks the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will be holding its meeting in Chicago on May 20-21. When it was announced this year’s G8 summit had been moved to Camp David, from surfing various websites/blogs it became clear to me that a number of Chicagoans actually believe many protestors who originally planned on coming to the Windy City in May for the dual summits would either change their travel plans and head out to Camp David (not knowing the “camp” is actually Naval Support Facility Thurmont, a U.S. military installation) or not bother showing up at all, the rationale being the G8 meeting is the “juicier” target.
Yeah, right. In the wake of the G8-to-Camp David announcement, protest organizers let it be known they are still coming en-masse. And I believe them. Because as crazy as it sounds, they have a chip on their shoulder. Don’t these “nattering nabobs of negativism” know the global financial system and U.S. economy are recovering and will soon be firing on all cylinders again?
Enough sarcasm. I saw this on the Occupy Peace blog’s main page today:
A European contingent is expected to attend this particular protest. It is hard to estimate what attendance will be, but it sounds like the preparations are being made with about 100,000 people in mind.
100,000. I’ve come across this number before (of course, no one knows for sure). With a “European contingent” to boot. The Europeans are pros at this stuff, and while Chicago can hope for their peaceful involvement, they’ve been known to shake-and-bake host cities in the past:
“Anti-NATO crowd burns hotel & border post”
Chicago residents are probably curious as to what the NATO summit protestors will be targeting in May. Providing some insight is Paul Street, who wrote in this weekend’s edition of the bi-weekly political newsletter CounterPunch:
Making the city’s planned twin “Global Crossroads” gatherings yet more problematic for local and national elites including Obama, the president’s “home city” (Chicago) is full of strong protests sites beyond summit headquarters. Potential targets include Emmanuel’s City Hall (a bastion of corporatist metropolitan union-busting, clinic-closing, prison-stocking, school- and social service-privatizing); the hyper-affluent near-North Side Gold Coast, whose multimillion-dollar mansions and condominium apartments and posh restaurants and art studios stand in sickening proximity to 15 city neighborhoods where more than a quarter of the children live at less than half the notoriously inadequate U.S. poverty level; the University of Chicago Economics Department (a leading player in the infection of the world with the inequality- and poverty-spreading disease of neoliberalism); the downtown headquarters of the Boeing Corporation, maker of the Predator Drone, the B2 Stealth Bomber, and the Blackhawk Helicopter, to name just three deadly Boeing technologies the Pentagon has purchased (at massive cost-plus taxpayer expense) to murder tens of thousands of innocent civilians, including countless small children, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
An especially juicy Chicago protest target is top corporate Democrat Obama’s 2012 downtown re-election campaign headquarters (located in the Prudential Building at 130 E. Randolph St.). Obama’s center of operations “looks more like a company than a campaign. For the last year,” the New York Times reported two weeks ago, “an office that appears nearly as long and as wide as a football field has steadily grown, with more than 300 workers now sitting bunched together….a payroll of $3 million in January suggests the staff is larger than any ever assembled for a presidential race.”
Street, Paul. “Won’t You Still Please Come to Chicago?” CounterPunch. 23 Mar. 2012. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/03/23/wont-you-still-please-come-to-chicago/). 23 Mar. 2012.
The big news around Chicago yesterday was that the G8 summit scheduled to take place in the city in late May has been moved to Camp David (May 18-19). Meanwhile, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will still be meeting in the Windy City (May 20-21). While protestors are claiming responsibility for the change in venue, others are trying to figure out who made the call, and why? I was reading a piece by Greg Hinz and Paul Merrion on Crain’s Chicago Business website yesterday that shed a whole lot of light on the development. Hinz and Merrion wrote:
The White House, not City Hall, made the bombshell decision to pull the G8 summit out of Chicago, multiple sources tell Crain’s.
Chicago host committee chief Lori Healey, sources in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office and Washington insiders all said Monday that the surprise decision came from President Barack Obama’s inner circle.
So, the White House made the call. And the reason, or reasons, why? Hinz and Merrion added:
Chicago had been given relatively little time to prepare for the summits, which sometimes are scheduled years in advance. Mr. Emanuel, rather, sprang the news on the city last June, notably failing to consult with organizers of the huge restaurant show, which was scheduled to meet on the same dates in May and which ended up having to reschedule to earlier in the month.
Some sources were saying Monday that the city never fully overcame the late start — particularly on the security side, with endless bad headlines here about protests and other woes to come.
Security folks felt the city was “overwhelmed,” one congressional source said. Even in the South Loop federal complex, building officials still have not been fully briefed on what to expect and how to prepare.
Okay, so a late start and security concerns did the Chicago G8 meeting in, if what Crain’s is saying is true. Chicago residents, businesses, and other parties had been constantly reassured by the City of Chicago and the Official Chicago Host Committee for G8 & NATO Summits that preparations for the two high-profile events were going smoothly. On the issue of security, one might wonder how prepared Chicago really is for what could turn out to be a turbulent May, among other things. The blogger(s) at the unofficial Chicago Police Department blog Second City Cop wrote earlier today:
There ought to be a line of people whose heads are on the chopping block over this crap. There was never a comprehensive plan that covered a myriad of concerns brought to light here and elsewhere. The incompetence and unpreparedness of the Chicago Police Department was, and remains, almost criminal in nature.
God forbid an actual emergency situation arises like 9/11 or Mumbai or a series of mass transit bombings. We’d be in the textbooks for years to come on exactly how not to run a disaster.
Well, what’s done is done. The protestors still plan on converging on Chicago en masse in May- and not just for a couple of days. I wish the City of Chicago and the host committee all the best in catching-up with what needs to be done for a successful NATO summit.
And please give the ground pounders on the Chicago Police Department what they need to do their job effectively in May and well beyond.
Chicagoans are watching.
Hinz, Greg and Merrion, Paul. “White House stuns city by pulling plug on G8 in Chicago.” Crain’s Chicago Business. 5 Mar. 2012.(http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20120305/NEWS02/120309916/white-house-stuns-city-by-pulling-plug-on-g8-in-chicago). 6 Mar. 2012.
SCC. “So Now What?” Second City Cop. 6 Mar. 2012. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2012/03/so-now-what.html). 6 Mar. 2012.
Seeing that the activist group Adbusters now wants to bring 50,000 protestors to Chicago in May for a G8/NATO summit pre-party and after-party, I’m guessing Mayor Emanuel and city businesses/residents are hopeful the month-long event turns out like the Occupy Wall Street movement… in London:
“Nadia Kamil Occupies Wall Street”
Chicago had been banking on protests and other activity related to the upcoming G8/NATO summits lasting only as long as their May 15-22 duration.
Sounds like they’ll be dealing with it for much longer than originally thought.
Adbusters, an activist group that’s been involved with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, issued the following on its blog last week:
IN THE TRADITION OF THE CHICAGO 8
MAY 1- BRING TENT
Hey you redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,
Against the backdrop of a global uprising that is simmering in dozens of countries and thousands of cities and towns, the G8 and NATO will hold a rare simultaneous summit in Chicago this May. The world’s military and political elites, heads of state, 7,500 officials from 80 nations, and more than 2,500 journalists will be there.
And so will we.
On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month. With a bit of luck, we’ll pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.
And this time around we’re not going to put up with the kind of police repression that happened during the Democratic National Convention protests in Chicago, 1968 … nor will we abide by any phony restrictions the City of Chicago may want to impose on our first amendment rights. We’ll go there with our heads held high and assemble for a month-long people’s summit … we’ll march and chant and sing and shout and exercise our right to tell our elected representatives what we want … the constitution will be our guide…
A warning to the City of Chicago, its businesses, its residents, and others:
And if they don’t listen … if they ignore us and put our demands on the back burner like they’ve done so many times before … then, with Gandhian ferocity, we’ll flashmob the streets, shut down stock exchanges, campuses, corporate headquarters and cities across the globe … we’ll make the price of doing business as usual too much to bear…
You can read the entire “Tactical Briefing” on the Adbusters blog here.
From the Illinois State Crime Commission/Police Athletic League of Illinois website (hat tip Second City Cop blog):
Crime Commission to Place Iraq Afghanistan Veterans in Security Positions
Member companies of the Illinois State Crime Commission/Police Athletic League of Illinois have an urgent need to employ Iraq Afghanistan Veterans for security positions during the G-8 conference. These jobs will pay $20-$30 per hour and may lead to permanent full benefit employment. All must be prepared for security clearances including background check and drug testing.
To apply contact ISCC’s Dan Elsner (Iraq Veteran/USMC) at 630-802-3591.
You can view the original posting on the ISCC/PAL-IL site here.
Sounds like the Russians might be coming to town next year.
On Wednesday, I noted that preparations by the City of Chicago and protestors are ongoing for the NATO and Group of Eight summits scheduled to take place here next May.
And this morning, the Associated Press is talking about the possibility of a NATO-Russia summit being held in the Windy City in 2012. From the AP:
NATO’s top official says a summit between the alliance and Russia could be held next year in Chicago if the two sides can agree on substantive issues to discuss.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
I’m guessing this meeting would be part of the already-planned May 2012 NATO summit?
Besides the potential for more trouble by adding additional protesters to the mix, Chicago might become an even more juicier target to Al-Qaeda and other terrorists than it would be with just NATO and the G8 coming to town.
I keep on thinking about what ABC7 News Chicago’s Sarah Schulte said back in June:
It will be the first time since 1977 in London that two international summits will be held at the same time in the same city. Security experts say it will be a security challenge that no American city has ever had to face.
“Chicago could host NATO-Russia summit next year.” Associated Press. 30 Sep. 2011. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-chicago-could-host-natorussia-summit-next-year-20110930,0,698416.story). 30 Sep. 2011.
World leaders are gathering in Chicago next year for two international summits. Both the NATO and the G8 summits will be held in May.
It will be the first time since 1977 in London that two international summits will be held at the same time in the same city. Security experts say it will be a security challenge that no American city has ever had to face. Planning is likely to focus on the possibility of violent demonstrations.
Chicago does not want to risk a repeat of 1999′s “Battle of Seattle,” when thousands of people protested the World Trade Organization meeting.
-Sarah Schulte, ABC7 News Chicago, June 23, 2011
“Security experts say it will be a security challenge that no American city has ever had to face.”
Ever since the events’ location was announced, the City of Chicago and protestors have been preparing for the NATO and G8 summits that are scheduled to take place next May. On the website for the Minneapolis-based Fight Back! newspaper, an interview with Joe Iosbaker, the Chicago spokesperson for the United Anti War Coalition, was published the other week concerning plans for civil disobedience that are to coincide with the summits in May 2012. From the site:
Fight Back!: Tell us about the Aug. 28 conference and what is planned for the summit.
Iosbaker: The meeting was inspiring. 200 people were there and everyone felt the same: the anti-war movement was coming together with labor and communities in struggle to plan this historic protest. One of the speakers was Meredith Aby, who helped lead the largest anti-war protest in the history of the Midwest – the march on the Republican National Convention in 2008. Meredith is one of us whose home was raided by the FBI one year ago. The Department of Justice investigation against anti-war activists began at the protest against the RNC. But we refuse to be intimidated or silent while our government wages these unjust wars; we’re going to march against NATO and the G8.
There were leaders from the Puerto Rican, Black, Arab and Muslim communities, including Malik Mujahid of the Muslim Peace Coalition; Alejandro Molina of the Boricua Human Rights Network; and Mark Clement, who spent over 20 years in prison after being tortured by a Chicago Police officer. Alex Han, a leader in the labor union-backed group, Stand Up Chicago was there as well. They all want what the anti-war movement wants: Jobs, housing, healthcare, education, pensions and the environment: Not war. They want justice. We agreed to form a coalition, both locally and nationally, to bring the broadest forces together to march, not once, but twice against NATO and the G8. We will march on the opening day of the summit, Tuesday, May 15, 2012. Then we’ll assemble for an even larger protest on Saturday, May 19.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Two marches. One big headache for the City of Chicago.
According to the mainstream media, the city’s public safety agencies are ramping up for the occasion. David Lepeska wrote in the New York Times on September 8:
The city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication is spearheading security planning for the NATO and G8 summits, scheduled for May 15-22, and the new Chicago Police Department counterterrorism unit is likely to play a key role. Antiwar activists have already called for protests during the gatherings, and the police department has begun training thousands of officers in tactics for mass arrests and containment.
Yeah, you read that right. A new counterterrorism unit. Lepeska added:
As the city prepares to host two international summits next year, and with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks approaching, the Chicago Police Department is creating a counterterrorism unit, which will bolster security and incorporate lessons from academic research and from New York City’s counterterrorism tactics.
The threat of terrorism is a real concern for Chicago officials, with world leaders expected at both the Group of Eight and NATO summits here next year…
Last month, the police department quietly started the counterterrorism unit, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.
I can understand the City’s concerns over terrorism at the summits. As I mentioned back on July 18:
During the 31st G8 summit which the United Kingdom hosted from July 6-8, 2005, 225,000 protestors took to the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Also worth mentioning- the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings (“7/7”) of the London transport system are thought to have been timed by the terrorists to coincide with the summit. 52 people, as well as the 4 bombers, were killed in the attacks, and over 700 more were injured.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Cops and protestors both better watch their butts next May…
“Massive protests planned for NATO/G8 Summit.” Fight Back! News. 15 Sep. 2011. (http://www.fightbacknews.org/2011/9/15/massive-protests-planned-nato-g8-summit). 28 Sep. 2011.
Lepeska, David. “Preparing for 2012, Police Create Counterterrorism Unit.” New York Times. 8 Sep. 2011. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/us/09cncpolice.html?_r=1). 28 Sep. 2011.
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