Smaller protests march through Chicago on second day of NATO
BY JON SEIDEL, KIM JANSSEN, LAUREN FITZPATRICK, FRANCINE KNOWLES AND LISA DONOVAN Staff Reporters May 21, 2012 9:18AM
Occupy Chicago Anti-NATO Summit protesters in the streets and headed to the Prudential Building where Obama Headquarters are located. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
- The NATO Summit: Latest news, protests and events
- Map: NATO Summit road closures and parking restrictions
- Video: Protest — with glitter—at Boeing headquarters
- Video: Monday protests in Downtown Chicago
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:58PM
NATO protest leaders accepted no responsibility Monday for this weekend’s violent clash at Michigan and Cermak, instead blaming Chicago cops, their top brass, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and even President Obama for the showdown Sunday between police and protesters.
“I’m ashamed to be a Chicagoan today for what our government did (Sunday), meting out rampant violence against peaceful people,” said Andy Thayer, the leader of Sunday’s march.
One demonstrator went so far as to compare a police beating of an antagonistic protester to the rape victim who “shouldn’t have been walking down that dark street.” The cops, 62-year-old Barbara White of New Jersey said, are trained to deal with people who provoke them.
But after watching another, smaller bloc of protesters march without incident Monday through the Loop from Boeing Co.’s headquarters to President Obama’s campaign base, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told reporters, “Those were criminals, these are protesters.”
“They shouldn’t be excused just because we knew it was going to happen,” McCarthy said of Sunday’s crowd. “We knew that people were going to come here and assault our cops.”
One wounded protester conceded to a Sun-Times reporter without giving his name Sunday he shoved police before they hit back with a baton. And at one point that day protesters tried throwing a metal barricade at the cops. But Kelly Hayes of Occupy Rogers Park said “the only violence that has occurred has been at the hands of the police.”
Sarah Gelsomino of the National Lawyers Guild said the police “indiscriminately unleashed violence against people at the front of the march.” She said she knew of at least 60 arrests from Sunday night — more than 100 since NATO protests began — and many accounts of broken noses, arms and collar bones.
“We know that most of the people who were arrested (Sunday) have now been released,” Gelsomino said. “Most of them have been released. Some were released without any charges whatsoever.”
They made their comments during a press conference outside Obama’s campaign headquarters at 130 E. Randolph after some 200 demonstrators marched and protested outside Boeing’s headquarters at 100 N. Riverside Plaza.
The protesters threw paper airplanes and staged a “die-in” in front of Boeing. Protesters pretended to be killed by Boeing’s military products “to leave an image of what Boeing does” on the company’s doorstep, Occupy Chicago activist Matthew McLoughlin said.
After the die-ins, marchers headed east on Washington, continuing on to President Obama’s campaign headquarters where Occupy planned its press conference.
In contrast to the ugly scenes between police and demonstrators Sunday, a peaceful party atmosphere pervaded the Monday morning gathering. Activists became more vocal as the march and rally progressed, though.
As demonstrators walked by McCarthy, who was along the route, they yelled “Shame, shame!”
The marchers walked through the streets and rallied without a permit, but McCarthy said the crowd was not that big and not an issue.
The crowd chanted: “Without banks there’s no NATO.”
On the way from Boeing the group stopped outside the Chase bank building and along Michigan Avenue to make and listen to speeches.
“I pay my rent on time every month,” Hayes said. “But because my building is in foreclosure, I may lose my home.”
Later, after they stopped outside Obama’s headquarters, 24-year-old Kyla Bourne said she was there to tell Obama, “to tell Mitt Romney, to tell Congress that their Democracy is a sham.”
And 74-year-old Anne Schultz of the Edgewater community said she worked for Obama and was proud to be at Grant Park “that night.” Then he brought in “all those guys” from Goldman Sachs.
“And I thought, what the hell’s this?” Schultz said.
Some protesters wore party hats and blew party horns. One yelled about the injustice of war in Afghanistan, while another at Boeing swore at the media over a bullhorn.
Occupy targeted Boeing, a multi-billion-dollar aerospace company and defense contractor, because it produces airplanes for the U.S. military.
Rachael Perrotta, an Occupy Chicago spokesperson, said the protesters had already “shut down” the company because Boeing’s offices were shut down ahead of the protest.
Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said only a few employees were at the Boeing headquarters Monday.
“We advised our employees that they could work from home today given the anticipated disruptions from the planned protests,” Blecher wrote in an email. “We’re using this opportunity to test the office’s ability to operate during a disruption.”
The relatively small-scale protest began with a free vegan breakfast provided by “Seeds For Peace,” a Montana-based group that travels the country in a vegetable oil-powered kitchen-truck.
Dan O’Donnell, a 41-year-old union worker who lives at an Uptown co-op, said “we’re witnessing a movement of people saying no to corporate power, and corporate domination of the political system and Boeing is a part of that.”