Peace activists joined with war veterans, teachers with nurses and union laborers, and thousands from many other sectors gathered at Grant Park in downtown Chicago Sunday to march to the lakeside convention center hosting NATO’s 25th formal meeting in Chicago, the Inquirer said.
The two-day North Atlantic Treaty Organization meet, the first time to be held in Chicago, focused on discussions about the war in Afghanistan, European missile defense, and other international security matters.
But the protest, one of the city’s largest in years, lacked the single message and the marchers were taking their discontent on a wide range of world issues to leaders assembled for the summit.
Some participants called for the dissolution of the 63-year-old alliance saying “basically NATO is used to keep the poor poor and the rich rich, the enforcement arm of the ruling 1 percent, of the capitalist 1 percent,” hardly aligned with the summit’s topic of discussion.
The city government, concerned about the safety of the marchers, provided them with water, rest stations and cooling buses along the four-kilometer protest route and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said officers were prepared to immediately respond and arrest demonstrators who would turn violent.
McCarthy said “If anything else happens, the plan is to go in and get the people who create the violent acts, take them out of the crowd and arrest them. We’re not going to charge the crowd wholesale, that’s the bottom line.”