Worldwide heads of the National Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), military general and heads of state from the alliance’s twenty-eight member countries will be coming to Chicago for a summit on May 20-21. The city will be put on lockdown so the military arm of the G8—a group that can dial up a “humanitarian intervention” or war when it wants it—can further expand their global military agenda.
Many protesters have already traveled here. Hundreds are on buses headed to Chicago. Journalists and photographers are flying here to cover the summit. Security fencing made up of heavy metal has gone up around McCormick Place convention center where the summit will be held. The Field Museum will be closed. Wireless carriers have boosted their capacity for the summit. Chicago police will be on edge because they have to work long hours and, like Rahm Emanuel, they pretty much loathe activists.
The State’s Attorney will be on “high alert” to stop “sex trafficking.” And, if you want to get married this weekend, you’ll have to postpone your wedding. The Cook County Building will be closed, which means there will be no marriages or civil unions performed while protesters, generals and heads of state are here in town.
Here’s a roundup of some key stories happening in the buildup to the NATO summit:
—Rahm Emanuel’s latest spin on the summit: it will be “historic”
Chicagoans upset that they will be inconvenienced greatly this weekend and for any who doubt the prestige of Chicago’s decision to host NATO are being told by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the event will be “historic.” Emanuel is promising a “place in world history,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “NATO will be now deciding how to de-emphasize its involvement, its footprint in Afghanistan and how to wind down its presence. It will be known as the ‘Chicago Accords,’ basically,” Emanuel said.
Oh, the stories you’ll be able to tell your children and grandchildren. “I was there when they signed the ‘Chicago Accords,’” some document that decided it was time to give off the appearance that the war and occupation was over but there were still operations to conduct and “terrorism” was still a problem to the US and NATO so the presence ended up continuing after the 2012 Election and, in fact, there was a surge five or six years later.
—More hyping of the threat of violence
In this instance, Reuters has taken a sixteen-day old tweet that mentions Black Bloc protesters — a tweet that some anonymous security expert called to a Reuters journalist’s attention — and mislabeled it as a “recent tweet.”
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.”
Here’s the tweet. It has absolutely nothing to do with any NATO protests coming up. The fact is there are no tweets on line about “BlackBloc” laying low that this alleged security expert could find. Reuters takes this expert at his or her word and didn’t bother to check if it was “recent” or not.
The rest of the article is typical violence-baiting. No groups have said they will engage in destruction or violence yet. Moreover, any people who would do this are not part of the cast of protesters that are with Occupy Chicago or the main NATO protest group in Chicago. Making them answer preemptively for whatever violence may or may not occur is ridiculous.
—First protester charged with a felony
A man from LA named Danny L. Johnson, who is 31 years-old, has been charged with “aggravated battery of a police officer, a felony, and obstruction of traffic, a misdemeanor.” The Chicago Tribune reports the Chicago police are accusing him of punching a police sergeant in the chest during an immigration protest. The sergeant was on his bike and fell off.
What actually happened is being disputed by supporters, who I presume are fellow protesters. Johnson is being held in jail on $10,000 bond. ““The reason why we are here,” supporter Jason Brock said, “is because of things like this– how the legal system works…It’s not fair.”
—A moratorium on evictions is demanded by protesters
Today, protesters participated in a march to Citibank where they demanded a moratorium on profit-oriented foreclosures and evictions. The protesters spoke out about the way banks contributed to the housing crisis. They brought furniture to the bank. The protest appears to have had a good effect too.
According to Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, the Cook County sheriff has agreed to a meeting. The group is pleased that in the aftermath of the protest he is agreeing to meet.
For more on the protest, see @soit_goes‘s Twitter account. Here is video of protesters singing “Our House” in Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago. Furniture carried to the protest was later “arrested” or seized by police.
—Protesters fight to be seen and heard at the summit
The Tucson-Sentinel examines events like the NATO summit that are designated as “National Special Security Events” and how authorities use the designation to curtail First Amendment rights. “Spatial tactics” are employed to “literally divide the city into some sections where demonstrators will be allowed to gather and march and others from which they will be barred from doing so. In some cases, the tactics also impose other legal constraints on demonstrators within certain parts of the city, such as prohibiting them from carrying certain items, or changing the process through which they may apply for permits.” The process for applying for permits was changed in January through ordinances. And, indeed, the city already has zones that people can and cannot enter. More here.
—For all the concern about violence from protesters, locals seem to be the real threat
The constant hyping of violence in the media is having an impact. Regular reports suggesting violent protesters will descend on Chicago have been heard loud and clear by Chicagoans and some residents are not going to tolerate people coming here to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Watch this man from Chicago threaten to fight or beat up protesters yesterday. The man eventually throws a punch. He is egging the protesters on to engage in violence and people are trying to keep a small group of angry residents separated from the protesters.
More on the scuffle and the anti-police march that led up to it here at the Chicagoist.
And finally Democracy Now! had a full program dedicated to the upcoming NATO summit this morning. Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, two long-time Chicago activists, appeared. Aaron Hughes of Iraq Veterans Against the War was on the program. And Carlos Montes, an antiwar and solidarity activist being targeted by the FBI whose story was covered here yesterday, appeared on the program.
Montes is coming to protest the NATO summit. He will be marching with a “Stop FBI Repression” contingent. He is one of twenty-four activists being targeted by the FBI for his activism. He is the target of an investigation that goes all the way back to before the 2008 Republican National Convention. He was to go on trial yesterday, but new details led the District Attorney to postpone the trial until June.
Montes’ appearance appears below. The full Democracy Now! program can be viewed here.