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Rahm Emanuel: Successful NATO Summit shows Chicago ‘city on the move’

Mayor Rahm Emanuel discusses this weekend’s NATO Summit OEMC 1411 W. Madisas event draws close today May 21 2012. |

Mayor Rahm Emanuel discusses this weekend’s NATO Summit at OEMC at 1411 W. Madison as the event draws to a close today, May 21, 2012. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 22, 2012 10:18AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel looked back at the NATO Summit weekend Monday evening and calmly declared it a success — on par with one of the biggest events in Chicago history, the World’s Columbian Exposition more than a century ago.

The mayor, speaking at the Office of Emergency Management on the Near West Side, said the meetings that ended Monday after bringing dozens of leaders and thousands of protesters to the city again put Chicago on the map.

“As the exposition of 1893 showed the world that Chicago was a city on the move at the end of the 19th century, the NATO Summit once again showed that Chicago is a city on the move at the start of the 21st Century,” he said.

He said if it wasn’t clear before, the city is capable of huge hosting international affairs.

“As the president said, we are the ‘City of Big Shoulders.’ We are also a world class city that can put on a world class event,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel noted that several world leaders visited the city for the first time, including the leaders of Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain. British Prime Minister David Cameron “met with entrepreneurs ... and leaders of Chicago companies to expand our economic ties. The prime minister and I talked about strategies as it relates to education and what we could do to exchange ideas.”

Emanuel said the brutal clashes Sunday between riot-gear clad police and anarchist demonstrators not far from McCormick Place, where President Barack Obama and others were meeting inside, also showed the ability of Chicago Police to keep the peace.

“They did a tremendous job under a very stressful situation,” he said. “ ... They made every one of us proud of the finest police department in this country.”

He contrasted the police work to what happened in Seattle in 1999, when tens of thousands of protesters shut down the city and the World Trade Organization meeting. If Seattle “was the lesson of what not to do, Chicago will be a lesson of what to do. Our police department did a tremendous job over four days.”

And Emanuel said he still supported protesters’ rights to be heard — even when it got personal and they marched in front of his North Side home in a demonstration Saturday to protest closings of city mental health centers.

“[I] don’t worry about my security. What I worry about is the security of the people of the city of Chicago. ... I have an office; that’s where I work. If it’s a public dispute, go there. But if people choose they want to go to my house, that’s my choice,”

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