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Top cop on NATO: ‘We’re off to a pretty good start’

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Updated: June 29, 2012 9:01AM

After assessing the protests held thus far as a lead-up to the NATO Summit, “I think we’re off to a pretty good start,” Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Wednesday.

That was after another day that saw protests downtown, including an Occupy Chicago-organized rally and march by about 150 people Wednesday morning, where participants demanded a year-long moratorium on foreclosure evictions in Cook County.

By Wednesday afternoon, McCarthy said, his police department had overseen four major protests he said involved less than 300 people — and made 12 arrests.

“Ten of them you can call them voluntary. They were acts of civil disobedience, where people wanted to be arrested,” he said. “There were two batteries to police officers that we made arrests for.”

However, he said, “So far, the events have been orderly. We’re equipped. We’re trained. And at this point, we feel that we’re off to a good, successful start, and we’re actually excited to get this done.”

Earlier Wednesday, Occupy Chicago protesters gathered at LaSalle and Jackson and marched through the Loop to a CitiBank branch at Monroe and LaSalle, chanting, “Fight! Fight! Fight! Housing is a human right!”

At the Citibank, their police escorts quickly moved between the marchers and the bank,which organizers said they targeted because several individuals taking part in the march were involved with CitiBank foreclosure actions.

Virginia Morales, of Chicago, said her elderly parents are facing foreclosure after refinancing their Citibank mortgage in 2007. She said they’ve applied twice since then for a loan modification but were denied.

“The main reason they were denied was for missing documents,” Morales said. “But each time they asked for documents, we faxed and mailed them. This is simply a way to take our homes. My parents’ home is worth far less than its mortgage value.”

During the protest, a Citibank manager agreed to a meeting with Morales.

Ending their march with a rally at Daley Plaza, the group said they were demanding the moratorium from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, as well as no evictions during NATO Summit week. Two of their members met Wednesday morning with Dart about the demands.

“We’re here to tell Sheriff Tom Dart, no more evictions in Cook County,” organizer Jorge Ortiz of Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction said at the rally, handing a sheriff’s representative who come onto the stage a box of signed petitions.

“We’re here to tell the banks that if they don’t stop evictions, if they don’t help families, we’re going to take back our homes. We’re going to take back our streets. We will occupy Chicago.” Dart spokesman Frank Bilecki said later that the Occupy delegates and sheriff had a good meeting, that Dart was sympathetic, and agreed to work with them on the issue.

“No one has championed the human side of the eviction and mortgage foreclosure issues more than Sheriff Dart, since instituting his first moratorium in 2008,” Bileki said. “In 2010, Sheriff Dart instituted yet another moratorium ... which continued for over a month until the Sheriff was ordered to resume.”

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