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.
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.
Occupy Chicago. 11 days and counting. 7,243 Facebook fans and growing. And coverage from the Wall Street Journal to China’s Xinhua News Agency to boot. From the WSJ’s Jack Nicas today:
“Wall Street Protest Spreads To Chicago”
Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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