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.
Activity continues to grow surrounding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit taking place here in Chicago this weekend and into early next week. From the Chicago Tribune this afternoon:
The first rally of the NATO protest weekend went off peacefully but groups of protesters conducted impromptu marches afterward on downtown streets that Chicago police tried to contain.
The two groups of protesters that had been marching through the Loop converged at Michigan Avenue shortly before 3 p.m.
Police, who had allowed the groups to wander through Loop streets largely unrestricted, stopped them halfway across the Michigan Avenue bridge, not allowing them to go further north.
On the bridge, one protester in a black shirt and Mohawk jumped up and pulled down a NATO banner on the bridge. Police officers quickly surrounded him, put him on the ground, and handcuffed him. One police officer appeared to strike her head on the bridge during the incident. Another protester obtained a police officer’s baton and threw it across the bridge…
Loop workers watched the impromptu march from their offices windows as the downtown streets seemed devoid of the typical tourist traffic often found in Chicago on warm Friday afternoons.
Drivers became impatient, however, as demonstrators snarled traffic by walking among cars and bringing the streets to a standstill.
The rally was far from the angry, violent protests seen at other gatherings of world leaders…
While I’d like to think the summit will remain that way, significant threats to law and order could come from the “Black Bloc” and terrorists. So what exactly is the Black Bloc? From Phil Rogers on the website of Chicago NBC affiliate Channel 5 this past Tuesday:
As Chicago prepares for the NATO Summit this weekend, police in other cities, and even some veteran demonstrators are offering some advice: “beware of the black bloc”.
Black Bloc demonstrators are self-styled anarchists who appear at large demonstrations, often at world summits, and are known for inciting violence.
From Reuters’ Andrew Stern on MSNBC.com that same day:
The main risk, security experts said, is that so-called “BlackBloc” anarchists will wreak havoc.
A recent tweet posted on the Twitter site of #blackbloc, a shadowy anarchist group, said: “#blackbloc comrades, keep a low profile till u are forced 2 act. We do no 1 any good in jail all day.”
If recent reports shared on an unofficial Chicago Police Department blog are to be believed, Black Bloc demonstrators will make their presence known in the Windy City in the coming days. From Second City Cop yesterday morning:
Has anyone been checking the Greyhound Station lately? Because our network people who are monitoring the subversives relate the following:
• According to their counting, 700 members of “anonymous” are arriving from the East Coast;
• 1200 are arriving from the West Coast;
• upwards of 3300 members of the “black bloc” and associated groups are coming from Canada and Seattle;
All of this prior to Friday. Is there a bit of bravado and exaggeration in those numbers? Undoubtedly. But the ones that do show up are going to be the truly dedicated assholes just itching to disrupt, damage and destroy.
View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.
And then there’s the threat of terrorism. Andrew Stern wrote in a piece on the Reuters website last night:
The FBI said on Thursday there was “absolutely no indication” of a terror attack threat in Chicago, although the city was considered a potential target even before President Barack Obama and other leaders meet for this weekend’s NATO summit.
FBI agent Ross Rice said the agency will be on heightened alert in Chicago, with extra agents brought in to react if its intelligence network sniffs out a plot. The FBI has agents in 70 countries, gathering intelligence.
“Several international terrorist groups have elevated Chicago in their mind to their No. 1 target for terrorist attack,” Rice said in an interview at the U.S. government’s nerve center inside a non-descript suburban Chicago office complex. Reporters were asked to keep the location secret.
“But there’s absolutely no indication that we’ve developed that any group or organization has a plan afoot to disrupt the summit this week,” Rice said.
Jeff Coen also talked about the potential threat from terrorism during the NATO Summit and wrote on the Chicago Tribune website last Friday:
Experts agreed that although any pooling of world leaders presumably makes for a tempting target for the likes of al-Qaida and other networks, the city is probably not under any more serious threat than usual.
As I type this from Chicago’s northwest side late this afternoon- here’s hoping the experts are right.
“Thousands rally, hundreds then march.” Chicago Tribune. 18 May 2012. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/natosummit/chi-first-nato-weekend-rally-unfolds-at-daley-plaza-20120518,0,5210924.story). 18 May 2012.
Rogers, Phil. “Police, Peaceful Protesters: Beware the “Black Bloc” Channel 5 Chicago. 15 May 2012. (http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/chicago-nato-summit-protesters-black-bloc-151650715.html). 18 May 2012.
Stern, Andrew. “Chicago braces for violence at NATO summit.” Reuters. 15 May 2012. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47439309#.T7a8rVIUP8l). 18 May 2012.
SCC. “Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy…” Second City Cop. 17 May 2012. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2012/05/those-whom-gods-would-destroy.html). 18 May 2012.
Stern, Andrew. “’No indication’ of terror threat to Chicago NATO summit-FBI.” Reuters. 17 May 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/17/nato-summit-security-idUSL1E8GHDSN20120517). 18 May 2012.
Coen, Jeff. “Terrorism at NATO summit viewed as improbable, not impossible.” Chicago Tribune. 11 May 2012. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-05-11/news/ct-met-nato-summit-terrorism-risk-0511-20120511_1_nato-summit-summit-events-nato-host-committee). 18 May 2012.
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.
Is The ‘National Defense Resources Preparedness’ Executive Order For War With Iran, Martial Law, Or Other?
President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday titled “National Defense Resources Preparedness.” The news media is unsure of the precise meaning of the information included in the order and average citizens are left to figure out what it means in general. As a longtime supporter of the president, I’ve been reluctant to jump to conclusions, but the general tide of recent legislation and this order give me reason for concern about the intentions of this administration.
-L.L. Woodard, on the Yahoo! News website yesterday
Last Friday, March 16, 2012, a new Executive Order was issued by President Barack Obama and published on the White House website. Entitled, “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” this order was released with little fanfare in the mainstream media and is being interpreted as meaning different things. Two interpretations really stood out for me as I researched the declaration:
1. The NDRP is to prepare for war with Iran
According to The New York Times best-selling investigative author Edwin Black in a Huffington Post piece Monday:
Last Friday, March 16, President Barack Obama may have quietly placed the United States on a war preparedness footing, perhaps in anticipation of an outbreak of war between Israel, the West, and Iran. A newly-propounded Executive Order, titled “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” renews and updates the president’s power to take control of all civil energy supplies, including oil and natural gas, control and restrict all civil transportation, which is almost 97 percent dependent upon oil; and even provides the option to re-enable a draft in order to achieve both the military and non-military demands of the country, according to a simple reading of the text.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
In The Tell blog yesterday on the MarketWatch website, Myra Saefong added:
Energy industry analysts are trying to assess the implications of a new executive order that effectively gives the government control over the nation’s natural resources in the event of a national emergency…
The order “is either a serious power grip or another sign that inside the deep recesses of the White House, they are preparing for war,” said Phil Flynn, an energy analyst at PFGBest.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
2. The NDRP is to prepare for U.S. martial law
Speaking of “a serious power grip,” some believe this executive order was issued in advance of some future declaration of martial law in the United States. Supporters of this rationale point to the following as evidence:
• The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012, signed by President Obama on December 31, 2011, which some claim allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens
• The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, signed by President Obama on March 8, 2012, which some claim allows the government to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country
• Inclusion of the Stafford Act in the new Executive Order. Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) appeared on the FOX News show Hannity yesterday and said:
The idea of this [NDRP] act is nothing new. Presidents have had this since the 1950s. But what is different about this one, the difference than any of the other ones is the definition of national defense. It is incorporated what is called the Stafford (ph) act I don’t not want to get overly technical. But this gives the President much more authority than any of the previous acts. In fact, Lanny may remember this. The previous acts didn’t give incorporation of the Stafford act, which is a civil situation where the President would have unlimited authority, subject, of course, to checks and balances. We can’t ignore checks and balances here. But the definition of national defense is broader than it has ever been under any of these previous executive orders.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
L.L. Woodard wrote in that Yahoo! News contribution:
Perhaps each law taken individually wouldn’t be a cause for concern, but the totality of these three suggests the federal government is envisioning more control over the civilian population than it has ever enjoyed. The president’s order on Friday suggests to some the executive branch might be ready to enact martial law in peacetime.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
You can read the entire “National Defense Resources Preparedness” Executive Order on the White House website here and decide for yourself what you think it means.
Woodard, L.L. “Could Peacetime Martial Law Be Near?” Yahoo! News. 20 Mar. 2012. (http://news.yahoo.com/could-peacetime-martial-law-near-221900976.html). 21 Mar. 2012.
Black, Edwin. “Barack Obama Prepares for War Footing.” Huffington Post. 19 Mar. 2012. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edwin-black/obama-national-defense-resources-preparedness_b_1359715.html). 21 Mar. 2012.
Saefong, Myra. “Obama energy order feeds Iran war speculation.” MarketWatch. 20 Mar. 2012. (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/thetell/2012/03/20/obama-energy-order-feeds-iran-war-speculation/). 21 Mar. 2012.
“‘The Real Obama’: Absolute Power.” FOX News. 20 Mar. 2012. (http://nation.foxnews.com/sean-hannity/2012/03/20/real-obama-absolute-power). 21 Mar. 2012.
These days I try to publish “Signs Of The Time” material sometime around the middle of the week. The following just couldn’t wait. From RT.com on February 10:
When the Belgian government decided to pour cold water on the country’s firefighters and increase their retirement age, the men struck back with the same method… literally.
Several hundred firemen broke through police cordons and hosed down the prime minister’s office. The men, dressed in full gear, were smiling as they directed the water at the building… and the small bunch of police officers huddled in front of it.
“Firefighters vs Cops: Striking fire officers soak PM office in Brussels ”
When I first saw the video I thought I was watching some kind of drill.
Once again, law enforcement gets hosed because of some unpopular decision made by politicians.
But like my girlfriend remarked this weekend when she saw the footage, the police officers are probably next in line to have their retirement screwed around with. Should that be the case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them escorting the firefighters all the way back to the prime minister’s office.
Along with all the carnage going on in Athens this weekend, I have to wonder if we aren’t seeing a preview of things to come in the United States.
“Striking Brussels firemen soak cops, PM office (VIDEO).” RT.com. 10 Feb. 2012. (http://rt.com/news/firemen-belgium-hose-police-013/). 13 Feb. 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”
“Say No to Police Repression of NATO/G8 Protests”
-Committee to Stop FBI Repression website
“Students for a Democratic Society Calls on Students and Youth to Protest the NATO/G8 Summit in Chicago May 15-22: Endorse the Call to Action!”
-Students for a Democratic Society website, posted this weekend
Show your disaccord! It doesnt matter who you are and where you are working, you can show your NO to G8 and NATO. All of you hardly working people can “dulcify” residence to teh oficial visitors of 38th summit G8 at Chicago. Whoever you are, footboy, pot-boy, cleaner, take your small part to say NO with their politics. “Accidentally” spilt coffe, “by mistake” cancelled order, broken down car in the entrance place to summit… lot of small things which can show our united disaccord. Active Crew Voice of anarcho-pacifism (Europe)
-”Resist the Chicago G8/NATO Summits May 2012″ Facebook page, posted this weekend
Speaking of travel this morning, keep in mind the following if you’re planning to visit Chicago next May. From the Chicago Sun-Times’ Frank Main last Friday:
Battle lines between protesters and the police are already being drawn for the NATO and G-8 summits that Chicago will host next spring.
On Thursday, an anti-war organizer said he was scouting potential staging areas for crowds of protesters expected outside the summits in May.
Meanwhile, police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he’s been planning for three weeks. And he put a deputy superintendent, Debra Kirby, in charge of preparing the Chicago Police Department’s response.
“We have to train for mass arrests,” McCarthy said. “We have to train 13,000 police officers in arrest procedures and containment procedures. At the same time, we will not stop patrolling the city.”
According to Main, both summits will be held concurrently. From the piece:
The summits will be held from May 15-22. Chicago is the first U.S. city other than Washington to host a NATO meeting. The Group of Eight industrialized nations will meet here at the same time.
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.
Main, Frank. “Garry McCarthy to NATO, G-8 protesters: Police will be ready.” Chicago Sun-Times. 15 July 2011. (http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/6513155-418/garry-mccarthy-to-nato-g-8-protesters-police-will-be-ready.html). 18 July 2011.
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