After all the planning, platitudes and protest, the NATO summit officially gets under way Sunday at
Thousands of war protesters are expected to rally at Petrillo Music Shell, then march to the edge of McCormick Place, roughly paralleling the same route that just a week later police will free up for thousands of cycling enthusiasts during the annual
Authorities on Saturday released details about the terrorism related arrests of three out-of-state men at a
A Cook County judge ordered the trio held on $1.5 million bail each, and their legal plight quickly offered a new rallying point for protesters who dubbed them the "
An impromptu and unauthorized march of several hundred demonstrators proclaiming solidarity with the three snaked its way around the
Despite a lack of permits, police also allowed other demonstrations on the North Side, where a few hundred marchers, some wearing hospital gowns, paraded in front of Emanuel's house in the Ravenswood neighborhood to protest mental health facility cuts. Later, they joined up with another group of anti-NATO protesters and paraded through nearby streets.
Emanuel wasn't at home most of Saturday. As protesters gathered outside his house, the mayor was at Hotel Sax attending a meeting for the Young Atlanticist, an organization that identifies the next generation of leaders.
Later, Emanuel praised the police work that led to the terrorism related charges. "The police department and the police officers did a great job," Emanuel said after attending a reception for Dutch Prime Minister
Protests on the street did little to deter shoppers and sightseers who thronged downtown on a glorious spring day. Many stopped to gawk and take videos of the marchers on their phones, frustrating at least one protester who identified herself only as Anonymous.
"I feel like the people that are filming us and watching us think we're ridiculous, but what they should do is join us," she said.
The inconvenience factor of the summit began to ratchet up late Saturday as motorcades of dignitaries flocking into the city from
In addition to foreign dignitaries, also arriving was Secretary of State and Park Ridge native
Obama arrived Saturday night, fresh from two days of meetings on economic matters at the smaller
That shift may have taken some of the steam out of protests planned for Chicago, with the ire of many demonstrators focused as much on what they consider inequitable and socially destructive policies of the world's economic powers as on the military activities of NATO.
The Sunday march and rally is being organized by a group calling itself the Coalition Against NATO/G-8 War & Poverty Agenda, suggesting it plans to emphasize a broad spectrum of grievances. Organizers have predicted they might attract as many as 10,000 demonstrators.
Andy Thayer, one of those organizers, said he and colleagues met briefly Thursday with a top NATO official and told her that "we are very aware of the immense violence and oppression that the U.S. and the U.S. in its NATO guise does to the world, and that no amount of words from her or pronouncements from the summit itself will obscure that."
Speaking to the Tribune's editorial board Saturday, NATO Secretary-General
"If that's the basis for the protests, it's actually based on lack of knowledge. NATO is a peace movement," said Rasmussen, a former prime minister of Denmark.
"During more than 60 years, NATO has been the bedrock of security in Europe and North America. And thanks to NATO, we have maintained peace and stability in Europe during that long period, since the 2nd World War. It is the longest period of peace in the history of Europe. That's quite a success. That's what I call a peace movement," he said.
Citing NATO's role in helping to reunify Europe, develop new democracies after the fall of communism and develop actions to protect civilians in Libya, Rasmussen said, "It's not justified to call NATO a war machine. But again, in a free society, it's a constitutional right to express yourself — even if your statements are not justified or incorrect or inaccurate."
Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chinews-nato-march-protesters-openin-20120520-htmlstory.html