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May Day protests might provide preview of what NATO will bring

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Updated: June 3, 2012 8:12AM

Railing against corporate greed, banner-waving protesters briefly blocked the entrance to a downtown bank, and even ventured into the middle of traffic-clogged streets during Tuesday’s May Day rally.

But if the 1,000 or so marchers offered a foretaste of what the city can expect during the NATO summit later this month, police could have few complaints.

There were no arrests. No broken windows. Almost no trouble at all, police said. “It went extremely well,” Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said, talking to reporters at Federal Plaza, where the march ended.

Did Tuesday’s event offer any insight into what police might expect when, potentially, tens of thousands of protesters from around the world take to downtown city streets?

“I can’t say that,” McCarthy said. “I saw some cops kind of taking it from people and they were showing a lot of patience, and I saw the bosses stepping in and rotating cops. . . I like what I saw today from the department, and I feel good about it.”

A boisterous crowd that appeared to welcome every cause and demographic — except the hated elite “1 percent” — converged on the Near West Side’s Union Park, and marched downtown. Organizers said there were about 1,500 protesters, while police put the figure closer to 1,000.

They briefly shut down the entrance to Bank of America at 201 S. State, until police arrived and created a wall of officers across the glass-paneled entrance.

Along the way to Federal Plaza, they chanted: “Whose streets? Our streets?” and “They say cutback! We say fight back!”

Tourists stopped to gawk, but downtown workers largely ignored the protesters — perhaps because they’ve become so accustomed in recent months to the echoing chants and drumbeat of the Occupy Chicago movement.

At Federal Plaza, with a huge Teamsters trailer as a backdrop, speaker after speaker railed against “injustice” of all kinds.

Why are we here?” bellowed Andy Manos, part of the Occupy Chicago movement. “It seems to me it’s quite simple: We make this city run. We make this city hum. Those 1 percent don’t do anything; they’re superfluous. We don’t need them.”

“We stand against injustice in every form, against prisons, against the laws of Arizona, against racial profiling,” said Donnie V. Moore, president of Teamsters Local 74.

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