The worldwide leaders that came to the city of Chicago for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit have left Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s moment of prestige and glory is over.
Emanuel managed to pull off a summit with diplomats, heads of state, military generals and NATO officials. And the city made it through the summit without any incidents of storefronts being damaged by protesters or cars being set on fire—the kind of incidents that have occurred during other summits, which media and business leaders were certain would happen when they described the violence that could occur during the summit.
Instead of experiencing chaos created by protesters, the city experienced a looming police state that took over the city for a few days. The security went beyond keeping dignitaries who were in Chicago for the summit safe. Police were out roving around town stopping and searching people who looked like activists that might have something against NATO. They were out swarming homes where activists were believed to be staying. They were out targeting live streamers or interfering with journalists that seemed to be working closely with the Occupy movement. They had infiltrators out trying to trap activists in frame-up operations, and they even managed to get five people and successfully charge them with terrorism-related charges.
There were an obscene amount of police at protests. There were reported snatch-and-grabs of protesters for reasons unknown. During the major May 20 march to McCormick Place, where the summit was being held, the police were putting stickers on people’s backs as if to signal to other police that this person is suspicious and they deserve to be arrested.
At the end of the march, protesters engaged in so-called “Black Bloc” tactics tried to continue the march and were met with a fiercely brutal crackdown from police. Their action became a pretext for police to engage in brutal violence. They swung their batons and even made an effort to lean forward and get protesters that were trying to back off and get away.
Here is a roundup of items related to the police state that transformed the city of Chicago so that the NATO summit could be “safe”:
—Video released showing police brutality during May 20 march
NATO Indymedia did some amazing work these past few days documenting the NATO summit protests. In this video released by the media collective, police can be seen brutally attacking demonstrators with their batons. Occupy Chicago’s Matt McLoughlin reacted to the video, “”The CPD and the Mayor said protesters would terrify Chicago, but the terror during NATO came at the hands of the police against peaceful demonstrators. The police took every opportunity to escalate the tense situation they created in the streets by encircling peaceful protesters and refusing to provide exits to people trying to leave the protest.” He said the conduct of police made him “ashamed” to be a Chicagoan that day.
—Occupy Chicago releases photos of the suspected informants involved in NATO 5
As stated in a press release, Occupy Chicago said they “obtained photographs of suspected police informants, who according to witnesses and arrestees were part of a law enforcement operation, which has resulted in the prosecution of 5 NATO protesters on terrorism-related charges.” They noted the city does not admit infiltrators were used yet in the raid on a Bridgeport apartment where activists were staying, but both of the individuals believed to be infiltrators are named “Mo” and “Gloves” (aka “Nadiya”).
They also reported: “Mo and Gloves took part in various organizing efforts over the past few weeks. Mo was arrested during an action on April 17th at 63rd & Woodlawn to protest the closure of a mental health clinic. The so-called NATO 3 (Jared Chase, Brent Betterly, and Brian Jacob Church), who came to Chicago from Florida, were befriended by Mo and Gloves and were likely sought out by the informants because of the out-of-town activists’ unfamiliarity with local Occupy Chicago organizers.” More here from colleague Steve Horn, who helped me cover this story the past few days.
—Protesters gather outside of Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters to condemn police violence
On the second day of the NATO summit, protesters rallied outside of Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago. Hundreds of police surrounded the hundred or so protesters creating a micro super surveillance state. Cops stood up on signs and monitored the protest with cameras. They isolated the protesters from the public. And one cop in particular decided to walk around and harass people he personally found to be suspicious because they don’t look right to him or they don’t like that he is the perfect personification of Big Brother.
—People are stopped by group of police who forcibly detain and search them for looking like protesters
Numerous unreasonable searches took place in Chicago during the NATO summit, especially under cover of the night. In this video, police run up on a group of people who like protesters. They are not doing anything wrong. The police push them up against a fence and search them. They go through their bags without consent. The police ultimately let the individuals go, but the point is that they should not have stopped them in the first place. They gave no justification for the search and should have left the activists alone.
—Josh Stearns tracks violations of press freedom during the NATO summit.
Josh Stearns, who has previously been tracking journalist arrests at Occupy protests, spent some time over the weekend tracking instances where journalists here to cover the NATO protests had their right to exercise freedom of the press violated. Here is the Tumblr page that Stearns put together.
And, finally, here are two interviews that are worth watching.
One is Joe Macare of Truthout, who talks about the May 20th rally on RT. He describes the moving ceremony where veterans threw away their medals. Then he addresses the violence that broke out when “Black Bloc” protesters tried to resume the march after police ordered everyone to disperse. The other is Amy Goodman interviewing National Lawyers Guild attorney Sarah Gelsomino on Democracy Now! this morning. In the segment, they discuss the NATO 3 case.