Anti-NATO demonstrations are now entering full force in Chicago, after Monday morning saw arrests of demonstrators at President Obama’s campaign headquarters. Tuesday night marked the beginning of the ugly scene Chicagoans have been preparing for, mentally, for months, as a masked mob of angry, violent protesters took over Halsted Street on the south side of Chicago.
Wait, did I say violent? I’m sorry… I forgot: they are supposed to be called “non-violent, mostly peaceful” demonstrators. At least that’s how the Chicago media still refers to them. Even when the demonstrations turn violent, with injuries and arrests, the old guard media still sees fit to point out that none of those occurrences were actually intended by the protesters.
The protesters began their self proclaimed FTP (F*ck the Police) march Tuesday evening by startling unsuspecting residents. The demonstrators were a roving mob, covered in black, head to toe. Most, of course, donned face-concealing bandanas and carried red and/or black flags (communist and/or anarchist, respectively).
I interviewed several neighbors in the area who had no idea what was going on. Some thought there were fights in the street. One area resident said, “It was scary.”
Other residents found common ground with those protesters who were marching against police brutality. However, when informed that the protest consisted of a large group of communists and anarchists, only a few neighbors remained comfortable with the group marching through their neighborhood.
One woman I interviewed said her son had joined the march “against police brutality,” unaware of who the group was, and “wanted to go get him” after she found out.
After marching 20 blocks, the protest arrived at the Chicago Police Department 9th Precinct headquarters to “peaceably assemble for a redress of grievances.” Although this time I’m being sarcastically polite, as they were really taunting and ridiculing the police with vulgarity and profanity.
It was here that the community residents of the Bridgeport neighborhood reached their boiling point with the mob, after an altercation occurred between one of the anarchists and an 80-year-old man. Both claimed the other hit the other first–and in the blink of an eye, Bridgeport residents were demanding the protesters leave their neighborhood with hard fists drawn.
Once the sun was gone completely and light rain started to fall, the march continued through an unscheduled pathway of streets and alleys. It was then that the march turned into a game of cat-and-mouse between demonstrators and the police.
The police, in this instance, were mainly trying to keep protestors on the sidewalks and to allow traffic to move again. The mob, meanwhile, stormed the Halsted Street Orange Line Station in an attempt to hop on a train towards downtown Chicago and lose the police escort. But after nearly every single protester–including an observer from the National Lawyers Guild–jumped the turnstiles or passed through a propped open handicapped gate, the Chicago Transit Authority stopped the trains.
The demonstrators continued through the streets of the near south side after failing to board the train and began to employ their “non-violent direct action tactics” on the police officers. They created a barricade of road construction horses, forcing the police to leave their cars to clear a way for traffic. Later, demonstrators dragged dumpsters into streets and knocked over dozens of garbage cans in alleys.
This, of course, is no surprise. We have all been told for months and months that “this is what democracy looks like.” This is the peaceful protesting we were promised during the NATO summit in Chicago.
We were also told for months and months–by Occupiers, unions, anarchists, communists and other left-wing radicals for “change”– that “this is only the beginning.”
And, indeed, it looks like Tuesday night was in fact the beginning of what’s in store over the coming NATO Summit weekend, as dozens of busses have been delivering hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of protesters to Chicago, “the belly of the beast.”