NATO Protests: A Round-Up of an Eventful Weekend
NATO wraps up its summit in Chicago today, but foreign diplomats weren’t the only ones visiting the city for the event this past weekend. NATO’s presence also brought out thousands of protesters wishing to express their disgust with NATO’s pro-war policies.
Initially, the G8 had also been scheduled this weekend in Chicago to coincide with NATO, but it was moved to Camp David, likely in part to help diffuse the inevitable displays of dissent. Nonetheless, demonstrators turned out by the thousands (no two reports’ estimates seem to align, so I won’t even attempt to give a precise figure), but their massive displays have gone largely unnoticed due to a glaring lack of mainstream media coverage.
Here are some of the stories that emerged from Chicago this weekend:
- Before the protests even took place, police raided a house and arrested nine activists without a warrant. The National Lawyer’s Guild condemned the police’s actions. Ultimately, three of the arrestees were held on charges of planning to use explosives at protests. The defense alleges that undercover agents coerced the suspects into this scheme.
- On Friday morning, the first big event was a nurses’ rally. Although the permit for the march following the rally was revoked, thousands took to the streets and marched anyway. Police followed demonstrators closely, but largely did not intervene on the protesters at this point.
- That night, police appeared to target citizen journalists. In one case, police pulled over a car holding a few prominent livestreamers, handcuffed them and collected their information before letting them go.
- In retaliation, hacktivist group Anonymous took down the Chicago Police Department’s website.
- By the following day, riot cops were out in full force, as were protesters.
- The heavy presence on both sides led to skirmishes. Reports indicate that at least police officers required medical attention, though it is unclear how many protesters needed the same. Video footage shows police attacking protesters with batons on several occasions throughout the weekend.
- Additionally, batons weren’t the police’s only weapons of choice. The Uptake has footage of officers striking protesters with their bicycles as well.
- For visuals of the entire weekend, The Chicago Tribune has a large photo gallery.
- Despite the physical conflicts, Chicago’s Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said today, “These are peaceful protesters. That’s what we expected.” However, the National Lawyers Guild strongly condemned the police’s actions. “Police completely overreacted to protesters approaching the security perimeter and unleashed a violent attack on them without an ability to disperse,” said lawyer Sarah Gelsomino in a statement.
- Believe it or not, even a Fox News segment calls out the police for potentially entrapping activists on charges that won’t ultimately stick, as well as purposely intimidating people from expressing their First Amendment rights.
- While police did not permit protesters to come too close where NATO officials met, at least some anti-war vibes were flowing there, too. At the summit, President Obama proposed a two-year timetable to stop the war in Afghanistan.
Photo Credit: Isadora Ruyter-Harcourt