Protesters call for end to oil pipelines in Canada, U.S.
BY TINA SFONDELES AND RUMMANA HUSSAIN Staff Reporters May 17, 2012 12:22PM
Protesters lay in the street as others chant "No blood for oil" outside the Canadian consulate in Chicago on Thursday, May 17, 2012. | Tina Sfondeles~Sun-Times
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Updated: June 29, 2012 9:44AM
Protesters lay down in the middle of Stetson Avenue and Lake Street and smeared “oil” on their bodies Thursday to protest the building of pipelines in Canada and the United States.
Dressed in bathing suits, shorts and jeans, four women and four men reached into a 100-foot-long plastic prop of an oil pipeline and rubbed the dark substance — actually vegetable oil, corn starch, flour and chocolate syrup — into their bare skin and clothes.
Then, they lay “dead” to illustrate the damage they said pipelines cause.
“Shut it down,” the environmentalists screamed. “Get up, get down. We need clean energy in this town.”
“These are being developed in areas where there is wildlife that doesn’t exist anywhere else, with polar bears and wolves,” said Nathan Titus, 28, of Occupy Montana.
“We are pretty much for the environment, so that would mean we’re against anything that would destroy it.”
The group mostly chanted slogans against the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.
“There’s economic and environmental injustice going on and NATO highlights the drastic priorities we have as a society, spending mostly on war and destruction as opposed to environmental sustainability,” said Dan Massoglia, a Chicago-Kent law student.
The late afternoon demonstration, which featured roughly 100 people on foot and on bicycles, started at LaSalle and Jackson and ended near the Canadian Consulate, which had been blocked off from traffic by police in advance of the protest.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was with about 30 officers at the protest.
“Things are going well. What you see is what you get,” he said. “We’re doing everything exactly like we said we’d be doing. They’re protesting peacefully. We’re facilitating that and helping with that.”
When asked about the possibility of pie-throwing protesters dressed as clowns, McCarthy said: “Any liquid or substance thrown on an officer is a battery, and that has to be made clear to anybody, and I don’t care if they’re dressed up as a clown, or if they’re dressed in a Halloween costume, that’s a fact...This really isn’t a game, so if people think that they’re coming here to have fun and play a game, they’re making a mistake.”
He added that the police computer systems have “absolutely, positively have not [been hacked into].”
No protesters were arrested Thursday, leaving the total arrested this week at 12.
“The protesters have been very well behaved,” said McCarthy, adding he does not expect police to use sound cannons or tear gas, but if necessary, the order would come directly from him.
Earlier, about 50 people demonstrating outside President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters demanded an end to the war in Afghanistan and unmanned drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
They posed as victims of drone strikes and carried a prop of a small drone plane.
“We are here today to stand against the death machine that is NATO,” said Natalie Wahlberg, 29, of Occupy Chicago. “ ... Mayor 1 percent Rahm Emanuel spent 68 million taxpayer dollars to bring this war and death machine here and nobody wants it here... So we don’t want NATO here. We are here to stand in solidarity with anyone who tells NATO to get the ‘F’ out of our city.”
The anti-NATO demonstration began around noon at 130 E. Randolph at Prudential 1 Plaza. The protesters then started marching, with stops at the British Consulate at 400 N. Michigan and German Consulate at 676 N. Michigan. About 30 police officers followed the group. They chanted, “When drones fly, children die” and “No to NATO, no to war!”
Protest groups included Code Pink, Women for Peace, The World Can’t Wait, Veterans for Peace and Afghans for Peace.
“We are all here to remember the nameless victims,” Debra Sweet, of The World Can’t Wait, told the crowd.
Leah Bolger, president of Veterans for Peace, said, “the damage we do with drones is just as bad as the damage caused by ‘the enemy.’”
Nathan Zorecki, 32, an Army veteran from Washington D.C. who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he speaks from experience: “I’m here because I’ve seen what NATO does to people.
“I’ve seen what Blackwater did to people,” he said, referring to the private security contractor used by the U.S. government.
“This is really about peace and love. That’s really what’s going on. I don’t get the police scare tactics. We’re not getting down with that. We are trying to play it cool.”