Heads of states and heads of governments from the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are scheduled to be in Chicago for a major summit. The summit is the first NATO summit to be hosted in an American city other than Washington, DC. It has already received attention because “dignitaries” attending will be deliberating over what to do next to effectively wind down the war in Afghanistan, which will likely involve some kind of long term troop occupation even if some US and coalition forces are withdrawn.
Protesters in Chicago have spent many months planning demonstrations and events to call attention to what they call the “war and poverty agenda” of NATO. I will be attending a press conference this morning to hear about all the plans groups in and around Chicago have. There are also groups like Courage to Resist, CODEPINK and World Can’t Wait that are going to be having actions.
Technically, only one demonstration and march has been approved by the city of Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city pulled the permit for the nurses union’s rally and march on the Friday before the summit. They disingenuously claimed this had to be done because guitarist and musician Tom Morello would be playing a concert for protesters. The city knew this was planned but used it as a pretext to deny protesters their right to assemble. So, the only permitted rally and march that I know of at the moment is being put on by the Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8). [You might recall NATO and the G8 were going to come to Chicago until President Obama decided in March to have the G8 leaders come to Camp David instead.]
There will undoubtedly be more than one major demonstration. The key will be how close any group of protesters will be able to get to McCormick Place, where the summit is to be held.
Here are a few stories around the NATO summit making headlines:
—Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who hates activists, defends the decision to pull the nurses union’s permit; nurses plan to federal lawsuit
—NATO representatives agree to publicly debate lead organizers from Chicago’s main protest group against NATO
—Occupy Chicago’s “People’s Summit” is happening this weekend: May 12 (Details here.)
—Milwaukee police from Wisconsin will be helping Chicago police with security
—Aerospace manufacturer and US defense contractor Boeing to face protest during NATO summit. Company installed 10-foot tall security fence just over a week before the summit. The company claims it is not to protect against protesters but is for a “construction project.”
—The Nation‘s editors weigh-in on the upcoming NATO summit and ask, “Why is NATO necessary?”
—Ahead of the summit, newly-elected French president Francois Hollande pledges to withdraw all French troops from Afghanistan
—NATO general says US lawmakers are wrong that Taliban is gaining steam in Afghanistan
And, here is a recently released video of Chicago police threatening protesters: