Ready or not, NATO arrived
on May 19 and 20. Chicago's in virtual lockdown. Residents feel occupied.
Building occupants got special instructions.
This writer's residence advised "leaving town between May 18 - 22."
Otherwise limit city travel. Have essentials on hand, including food
and water. Consider working at home. Avoid certain parts of the city.
Observe curfew and other mandates.
No large deliveries will be allowed. Special precautions are being taken.
Visitors must have verifying photo IDs. Vehicular restrictions will
be enforced. Portions of the building will be locked and inaccessible.
Avoid large gatherings if at all possible. Stay close to home.
In early May, CBS local affiliate Channel 2 reported that "the government
is informing small plane pilots that if they enter (a restricted) no-fly
zone during the summit, they might be shot down."
"This is no joke," the report continued. "It will be enforced from May
19 to May 21."
The FAA established flight advisory rules. Non-commercial aircraft are
prohibited from flying within 10 nautical miles of downtown at altitudes
below 18,000 feet.
Restrictions also include an outer perimeter extending 10 - 30 miles
around Chicago. All aircraft violating flight restrictions will be intercepted.
The advisory states:
"The United States Government may use deadly force against the airborne
aircraft, if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security
"Be advised that noncompliance with the published may result in the
use of force."
Violators face criminal penalties. For three days, no-fly zone enforcement
extends from Lake County, IN to Lake County, IL. It includes Cook and
DePage Counties as well as portions of Lake Michigan.
O'Hare and Midway Airports are affected. So are small suburban ones.
Around a dozen overall face restrictions. When Obama arrives, he'll
be well protected downtown. So will other heads of state and their entourages.
Security is extremely tight. F-16s, Blackhawk helicopters, and drones
patrol Chicago area skies. Elaborate barricades were erected in preparation.
Police may confront protesters violently. Local residents were warned
to stay away. For many, conducting normal activities will be nightmarish.
With dozens of motorcades coming, so will traffic.
Secret Service operatives head Operation Red Zone enforcement. They'll
direct federal, state and local law enforcement.
Militarized May Day was dress rehearsal preparation. Police patrolled
streets in battle dress. McCormick Place is summit headquarters. Nonetheless,
virtually the entire Loop and surrounding areas are locked down.
High police visibility began May 1. Protest groups were briefed. Marches
require permits. Strict restrictions apply.
Occupy Chicago, other OWS participants, Veterans against War, immigrants
and environmental rights groups, National Nurses United, CANG8, unions,
and other organizations marched on May 1 under the slogan:
"We are Workers. We are Students. We are Documented. We are Undocumented.
We are Occupiers."
"They are Detaining Us. They are Shutting Down our Clinics. They are
Closing our Schools. They are Taking our Wealth. They are Busting our
"Come May 1st. We are on the March! Join Us!"
From May 19 - 21, they're back.
On Monday, May 14, protesters began "A Week without Capitalism." Dozens
of Catholic Worker movement members demonstrated outside Obama's campaign
headquarters. Several were arrested.
On Tuesday, an anti-capitalist march took place near downtown from 6:30-PM
to midnight. A same day Trinity Episcopal Church meeting discussed ways
to stop police brutality and help victims recover.
On Wednesday, National Lawyers Guild and StreetMedics representatives
held a nonviolence training seminar. Occupy Chicago and Communities
United against Foreclosure and Eviction protested downtown. A Daley
Plaza rally concluded it.
On Thursday, healthcare demonstrations were held. In addition, a protest
march proceeded to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home.
On Friday, National Nurses United and Rage Against the Machine rallied
downtown in Daley Plaza. At issue are medical service cuts and demands
to tax Wall Street.
A same day Arts to Oppose NATO featured an evening of poetry, songs,
information, and resistance against NATO war crimes. David Rovics and
Outernational Unplugged participated.
Planned weekend events are numerous. Local groups, students, environmental
activists, bikers, Planet over War, and other planned demonstrations
will march, hold rallies, and feature local speakers. Participants have
been briefed to maintain nonviolence no matter what confronts them.
The Chicago Tribune and Sun Times provide detailed coverage. On May
18, the Tribune headlined "Ready, set: Here comes NATO summit weekend,"
Chicagoans are braced for "a little pomp, a little circumstance, a lot
of inconvenience, a splash of spring colors, a maze of barricades, street
and museum closings, and a loud exercise of that most American of rights
guaranteed by the First Amendment."
Some will take part in planned activities. Others will protest against
a laundry list of crimes, abuses, and neglect nonviolently. Until Friday,
demonstrations were small.
Through the weekend, the dynamic will change markedly. Tens of thousands
on both sides converge on city streets, parks and plazas. Secret Service
contingents were out in force. So were state police, National Guard
forces, and thousands of Chicago cops.
America's First Amendment will be sorely tested. It guarantees free
expression and assembly rights.
Article I, Section 4 of Illinois' Constitution affirms "FREEDOM OF SPEECH,"
"All persons may speak, write and publish freely, being
responsible for the abuse of that liberty. In trials for
libel, both civil and criminal, the truth, when published
with good motives and for justifiable ends, shall be a
Section 5 affirms the "RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE AND PETITION," saying:
"The people have the right to assemble in a peaceable
manner, to consult for the common good, to make known their opinions
to their representatives and to apply for redress of grievances."
Previous global justice, G8, G20, IMF, World Bank, and other protests
elsewhere produced serious rights violations. Throughout the weekend,
Chicago may replicate them.
During the 1968 Democrat national convention, extreme Chicago police
violence confronted anti-war demonstrators. Chilling images still resonate.
A Los Angeles Police Department observer said:
"There is no question but that many officers acted without restraint
and exerted force beyond that necessary under the circumstances."
"The leadership at the point of conflict did little to prevent such
conduct and the direct control of officers by first line supervisors
was virtually non-existent."
Residents with long memories fear weekend police violence may replicate
that type extreme harshness. Played out on national television, millions
watched and cringed. Brutality replaced restraint.
Mayor Richard J. Daley ordered police to "shoot to kill arsonists and
shoot to maim looters....As long as I am mayor of this city, there's
going to be law and order in Chicago."
On August 22, an unarmed protester was shot to death. Brutal beatings
occurred all week. Journalists as well as protesters were attacked.
Many dozens were treated at local hospitals. Hundreds were arrested.
Senator Abe Ribicoff interrupted his George McGovern nominating speech
to denounce "Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago." If anti-NATO
violence occurs, expect no leading politician to replicate him.
Days after the convention ended, local residents remember Daley's freudian
"The policeman isn't there to create disorder. The policeman is there
to preserve disorder."
Chicago cops specialize in doing it violently. Their reputation is ugly
On May 18, Chicago Sun Times columnist Lynn Sweet headlined "Whose drone
is it? US Military providing support for Chicago NATO Summit," saying:
Defense Department spokesman George Little said US military support
will help summit security. NORTHCOM will be present, perhaps in force.
Details weren't provided.
Following the Camp David G8 Summit, Obama arrives Saturday night. On
Sunday, meetings follow. War, occupation, and other strategies will
be discussed. Expect Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran to get considerable
On May 17, a National Lawyers Guild (NLG) press release condemned preemptive
police raids and lawless searches, saying:
On Thursday, "a preemptive police raid took place at approximately 11:30pm
Wednesday in the Bridgeport neighborhood, and instances of harassment
on the street, in which Chicago police are unlawfully detaining, searching,
and questioning NATO protesters."
"The Bridgeport raid was apparently conducted by the Organized Crime
Division of the Chicago Police Department and resulted in as many as
Witnesses said cops burst into a six-unit apartment building violently
with no search warrant. Doing so is illegal. They entered an apartment
guns drawn. One tenant was tackled in his kitchen. Two were handcuffed
for two hours in their living room while police searched their apartment
and a neighboring one.
Repeatedly they called one tenant a "Commie faggot." A search warrant
produced four hours later had no judicial authorizing signature. Beer-making
supplies and one or more cell phones were seized.
NLG attorney Sarah Gelsomino said:
"Preemptive raids like this are a hallmark of National Special Security
Events. The Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies should
be aware that this behavior will not be tolerated and will result in
real consequences for the city."
Expect lawsuits to follow. What's next is uncertain. Settlements may
include monetary payments to plaintiffs.
In another downtown incident, three plainclothes cops lawlessly stopped,
handcuffed, searched, detained, and interrogated a NATO protester. No
probable cause justified it. The subject refused to answer all questions.
Hours later he was released.
NLG got reports of at least 20 other arrests. Some remain in custody.
Los Angeles immigrant rights activist Danny Johnson was accused of assaulting
a police officer during a protest rally and arrested. Witnesses contradicted
Throughout the weekend, NLG staff remain on call to provide legal services
for anyone mistreated or arrested. Scores of NLG observers are deployed
on streets. They'll record police misconduct firsthand.
Past experience suggests considerable police violence before summit
activities end. Committing it should make NATO participants feel right
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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