NATO weekend is officially here. Busloads of Occupiers, anarchists, communists, and other radicals have been arriving for the past few days in Chicago.
Events and “actions” began on Monday this week–with eight arrests that morning at the Obama campaign headquarters–and continued that afternoon on the south side of Chicago at a protest organized by the Chicago Teachers Union and Occupy Chicago. That protest was against “corporate higher education” and, more specifically, over budget cuts to Dyett High School that led to the termination of an art teacher.
Actions continued Tuesday morning with a march demanding an end to detentions of illegal aliens, with a vigil supporting rights for illegal aliens and immigrant families. Tuesday night marked the beginning of a violent anarchist/occupy presence in Chicago, with a march on the city’s south side.
The march featured masked anarchists, communists, and occupiers chanting “f*ck the police,” which also happened to be the name of the march (“FTP March”). Protesters harassed and taunted police, with support from some local residents, under the banner of ending police brutality. But there was some very vocal opposition from area neighbors who did not appreciate the presence of the protesters.
The event ended with protesters storming the Halsted L Station and attempting to illegally enter the city transit system. After Chicago Transit Authority officials halted the train, the protesters left and continued their romp through back alleys, knocking over garbage cans and using construction horses as well as dumpsters to create barricades, slowing the police down from following them.
More “actions” followed Wednesday throughout the day and concluded in the evening at the Wellington United Church of Christ, a member of the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches, where Occupiers and radicals have been invited to use the church as a base for planning their actions. Buses began dropping off hundreds of protesters at the church Wednesday evening and were still arriving as of Friday afternoon.
“Spontaneous” protests and marches took place Thursday on Chicago’s north side, in Lincoln Park, near the church. Several hundred protesters took over Halsted St., as they did Tuesday, this time on the opposite end of the city. The protest was in response to the arrests of nine more Occupiers the previous night. Those arrests took place at the home of two Occupy Chicago activists over suspicion that they were producing Molotov cocktails. The police claimed they found equipment inside used for that purpose. The occupiers denied it, claiming the equipment is used for brewing beer.
Today the National Nurses United held a large rally in Daley plaza downtown. There were about 2,000 in attendance. Nurses donned Robin Hood hats and watched a stage show mocking the leaders of the G-8. Bill Ayers was in attendance with his wife Bernadine Dorn. The show was topped off with a performance by Tom Morello, the guitarist of rap-rock group Rage Against the Machine. Morello showed his solidarity with the nurses by wearing a red star sewn into his black shirt–a pretty expensive looking shirt, I might add.
During the protest, I attempted to conduct several interviews. However, the Nurses Union–apparently worried about certain media being around–had given wrist bands to approved media to wear and instructed nurses not to speak to anyone who was not wearing one. When I inquired with the press relations personnel regarding this, and told her I was with Breitbart, she said they would not be doing any interviews with anyone from Breitbart, and then went over to her supervisor and informed him, “Breitbart is here.” Had you seen it, and you still may, you would laugh and probably imagine Andrew is having a laugh about it too.
Not so funny, however, is that these radical organizations like the National Nurses United are afraid to talk to media which they fear do not fully support their ambitions. The group chanted for a “Robin Hood Tax” and, of course, the latest in left-approved forms of taxation, an “international transactions tax.”
Following the nurses’ protest, the occupiers, anarchists and others marched through downtown Chicago, closing down State St. en route to the financial district. They continued past the banks chanting, “one, two, three, four, Chase Bank f*ck you,” with a few chants directed at other banks, including Bank of America. This march concluded with a sit-in on LaSalle St. in front of the Chicago Board of Trade/Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank.
The festivities of their so-called “Week Without Capitalism” are set to continue throughout the weekend as the NATO Summit culminates. There is a general assembly scheduled for Friday evening and marches scheduled for the rest of the weekend. I asked an occupier outside of the Wellington United Church this afternoon what we can expect and when we will see the biggest rally. He told me, “NATO… NATO… it all depends on how the police are…” He also said the largest contingent of radicals and occupiers are here from New York. He did not have an estimate of how many. However, he and a few of his friends have been all over the country at different “occupies” and are itching for the demonstrations to begin as the summit gets underway.