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Tuesday, February 27

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The Mechanics

NATO-G8 Tue May 22 2012

Photographing NATO Demonstrations: Projects and Protests

Despite coverage to the contrary, the last few days of "No NATO" activities were overwhelmingly peaceful. The near constant demonstrations snaked their way through downtown while flanked by onlookers and hundreds of police officers, while complementary efforts to rehabilitate derelict houses, discuss contemporary politics and celebrate inhabited far flung neighborhoods.

The following slide show samples from those events while featuring some of the most public demonstrations.

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David Schalliol

NATO-G8 Mon May 21 2012

Protests: Merging Means and Ends

Ugh. There's no good way to go about this, particularly so soon after the protests have settled and the fact and myth detritus is yet to be sifted through. Forensics at this stage are dicey.

I've never been keen on protests as purely symbolic gestures, though I generally don't criticize them, as speech acts have an (admittedly de minimis) inherent value in a republic. Protests qua protests typically serve as an internal act of organizing--honing organizational processes, identifying activists and leaders, developing messages, and serving the omnipresent need for "consciousness raising." But protests as pure speech acts are ephemera--or, maybe better, phenomena--that should express organizational acumen and announce a program to the public, rather than being the program itself. In other words, an organization's strength won't come from protests; protests should be an expression of strength built as a result of direct action contending with the status quo.

The protests that unfolded over the weekend, particularly over the last twenty-four hours, reflect the lack of a means-ends connection. Their listing from an identifiable objective, perceived lack of focus, and disparate employment of means are a function of not having an objective--even a grand one, like Gandhi's all-encompassing goal of an independent nation void of all forms of social violence--and thus being unable to calibrate their activities to that vision.

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Ramsin Canon

NATO-G8 Sun May 20 2012

Veterans Chuck Medals Towards NATO Conference

NATO1.JPGThousands marched from Grant Park to the intersection Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road, about two miles, led by the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). At the end of the march, as close to the NATO conference at McCormick Place as the demonstrators were allowed to go, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan threw their military service medals onto the ground as a symbolical gesture of their disapproval.

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Tyler Davis / Comments (1)

NATO-G8 Thu May 17 2012

March on Consulates Against NATO Drone Strikes

Around 50 protestors gathered at President Obama's campaign headquarters downtown to protest the use of unmanned, weaponized drones in the War on Terror. Organized by the women's anti-war group Code Pink, the protest moved from the campaign headquarters to the Canadian, British and German consulates.

The march was joined by around 20 bicycle-riding police officers, who used their bikes to block off the front pavilion of the Obama campaign headquarters.

"Drone strikes that target both militants and civilians are illegal," said Bill Quigley, a lawyer who is involved in the cause against drone strikes. "It's been illegal to assassinate people in other countries since President Ford and President Reagan made it illegal."

Protestors wore the names of drone strike victims from Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and carried two large cardboard drones. Included in the names worn by protestors was Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American citizen and leading member of Al Qaeda who was killed by a drone strike in September, 2011.

In front of the German consulate, the group was joined by Tobias Plueger, former German delegate to the European Parliament, and Inge Hoeger, a member of the German Parliament.

"When they do wars they kill people, and when they do wars they also kill democracy," said Pflueger, referring to NATO.

"Because NATO is a war organization, Germany should be out of NATO," said Hoeger in German, translated by Plfueger. "And NATO should be disbanded."

Tyler Davis / Comments (1)

NATO-G8 Thu May 17 2012

Globe Money, Globe Problems

When civic leaders like Mayor Emanuel, his billionaire backers on the World Business Council, or the Commercial Club, talk about making Chicago a "global city," they don't quite mean making it a shining beacon to the world's reformers struggling to make the world a better, more egalitarian place; they mean they want to make it attractive to the already wealthy and powerful. They want to showcase it as a potential playground for those who can enjoy its luxuries; in a piece for Huffington Post, Tammy Webber quotes Richard Longworth from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs:

"We ought to be known for something more than the old stockyards, smog or Al Capone, but we aren't," said Richard Longworth, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "People are surprised when they visit, and that's why" Mayor Rahm Emanuel wanted the summit.

"We have to stop being a surprise," Longworth added.

When you do that, you create a stark relief between those who enjoy the recreation and those who can't pay the price of admission.

The litany of protests planned for the NATO Summit reflect this. If Chicago is to be a locus for convening the powerful, the powerless are going to want to confront them. Activists and reformers from all over the world are targeting the NATO Summit for what it represents: war as a priority, even while a devastating recession has thrown tens of millions of families into the dread of economic insecurity.

Today, Code Pink is marching on President Obama's reelection headquarters to protest "endless war" in Afghanistan and the killing of innocent families with remote-controlled drone attacks. On Saturday, the Mental Health Movement is planning to protest in Mayor Emanuel's neighborhood against the closure of six mental health clinics at the same time the Mayor and his business supporters are raising tens of millions of dollars to provide refreshments and entertainment for some of the most powerful people on Earth.

In turn, the city has a choice; are we going to treat activists and protesters as criminals-in-waiting and militarize our public safety (and expand our already troubling surveillance state) to the same degree that we become more and more global a city? Or accept that with global money come global problems and preserve Chicago's historical place as a center of intellectual and organizational freedom?

The introduction of equipment like the Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, is not a good sign. Excellent at dispersing people because of the intense pain and sometimes long-term damage it causes, LRADs win the approbation of police forces because they appear harmless, even while causing real damage--in the words of some experts, a form of "acoustic assault."

Just as the city has been thrown into turmoil for its residents--street closures leading to business closures, traffic snarls making it difficult for people to move around, and intense security cordons that are discouraging residents from moving through areas of the city they'd otherwise enjoy on a weekend.

As we become more of that type of "global city," with more permanent institutions meant for the global elite, will a sanitized corridor controlled and maintained by militarized police empowered with new surveillance tools itself become institutionalized? In other words, is this the first of occasional nuisances, or the trial run for the long-term "globalization" of a portion of our city meant to create a comfortable space for the global elite at the expense of local desires, wishes, and needs?

It needn't be. Insofar as hosting events does indeed bring needed money into the city, that's a good thing; and protests and activists are integral to reminding the city's leadership why we need that money: to promote economic security for all of us and remember our priorities.

A global city is one that provides an example to the world, not a warning.

Ramsin Canon

NATO-G8 Mon May 14 2012

Foreign Press: While You're Thinking Globally, Don't Forget Locally

The Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of community groups, labor unions, and faith communities, has launched an initiative to invite the foreign press in town to cover the NATO Summit to take some time out for a bus tour of Chicago's neighborhoods, to give them a true taste of Chicago.

As part of the initiative, they've launched a video series featuring community leaders from Chicago's disparate neighborhoods talking about the community needs that have gone addressed for generations.

Here's Pastor Victor Rodriguez, from the Little Village neighborhood, talking about the lack of basic facilities faced by the neighborhood's kids, and how just a fraction of the $14 million being spent on parties and entertainment for NATO functionaries could change the lives of hundreds or thousands of Chicago children.

The NATO summit is being boosted by the city's leadership with the same trickle-down rationale Mayor Daley used to justify so much spending (and TIF-ing) in the central business district: by making Chicago a "world-class" destination, money pours in and that benefits everybody. Pastor Vic rightly wonders just why after years of these priorities, so little, if anything, has redounded to the benefit of Chicago's neighborhoods.

Ramsin Canon

Occupy Chicago Wed May 02 2012

#MayDay in Chicago

Yesterday protestors took to the streets for May Day protests supporting workers rights and other causes in what many saw as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming NATO summit. Mechanics contributor Mike Ewert chronicled the posts, pictures, and tweets from the day's events on Storify.

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NATO-G8 Wed Apr 25 2012

NATO Summit Security Zones Revealed

The Secret Service met with residents, protestors and the ACLU on Tuesday to share details about the security zone around the NATO Summit May 20-21. Naturally the protestors then shared those details with the press. The Secret Service would not confirm the map, but according to Andy Thayer, a spokesman for the Coalition Against NATO/G8, the security perimeter west of Lake Shore Drive will bounded by Indiana Avenue to west, the lake shore to the east, 25th Avenue to the south and 21st Avenue to the north. East of Lake Shore Drive, the security zone will extend up to McFetridge Drive, just south of the Field Museum, though it may move as far north as Roosevelt Road should NATO events take place at the museum itself. Please note updated boundaries in the updates below.

View Chicago NATO Summit Security Perimeter & Other Closures in a larger map

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Andrew Huff / Comments (4)

NATO-G8 Wed Mar 07 2012

Protesters Unshaken by G8 Summit Relocation

The G8 summit may be moving to Camp David, but protest organizers still expect a big turnout for the NATO conference in May.

"The growing momentum for the protests certainly played a role in the canning of the G8 in Chicago," said longtime Chicago protest organizer Andy Thayer, who is working with the Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda. "And now many people will rightly draw the conclusion that 'If this is what protests can accomplish, then let's do more of them.'"

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Tyler Davis / Comments (1)

NATO-G8 Tue Mar 06 2012

Rally to Call for G8 Funds to Fund Jobs

In light of the startling news that Chicago will not host the G8 Summit, Chicagoans and Grassroots Collaborative will gather at 10am this morning outside of the World Business Chicago (WBC) offices at 177 N. State St. to find a new, constructive way to use funds previously intended for the G8 Summit.

According to a press release from Grassroots Collaborative, the WBC was supposed to raise $65 million for the G8 Summit's expenses for security and social events. Those who will gather outside of the WBC offices will call on the WBC to utilize its clout to raise $100 million.

According to the press release, the requested amount of money could create 41,666 summer jobs for teenagers, 10,810 parent patrols for a school year or 4,358 positions for people to watch vacant foreclosed properties. Grassroots Collaborative feels that these jobs would help create safer neighborhoods.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is the chairman of the board of directors for WBC.

Monica Reida

NATO-G8 Wed Feb 01 2012

Chicago Taxpayer Won't Pay for NATO/G8

The White House has announced it will cover the cost of security for the G8 and NATO summits to be held in Chicago in May, as reported by Crain's.

It is likely that this will come in the form of federal grants after the summits are done and paid for, according to comments made by Office of Emergency Management and Communications Director Gary Schenkel at a City Council hearing a few weeks ago. So the city will be initially footing the bill, only to later get reimbursed by the federal government.

Tyler Davis

GB store


Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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