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After NATO: From Chicago Spring to Occupy Summer and Beyond

Posted 11 years ago on June 19, 2012, 2:09 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

“Occupy might just be the name we’ve put on a great groundswell of popular outrage and a rebirth of civil society too deep, too broad, to be a movement. A movement is an ocean wave: this is the whole tide turning from Cairo to Moscow to Athens to Santiago to Chicago.”</em> —Rebecca Solnit, February 21, 2012

Article via Toward Freedom

On May 22nd, the day after the NATO summit concluded, the Chicago Tribune’s leading headline read: “Chicago keeps its cool.” Reading these four words at the airport before flying back to the east coast, I couldn’t help but laugh in disgust. Images of police repression from the past week raced through my mind; of unwarranted house raids and arrests, infiltration of activist groups, and violence against protesters in the streets. With the ghost of 1968 occupying the city’s collective consciousness throughout the month of May, NATO certainly could have been worse. But even if it is true that Chicago did not completely devolve into the chaotic melee of the Democratic National Convention over four decades before, suggesting that the militarized “Global Crossroads” managed to “keep its cool” still seemed dishonest.

Standing there in the airport terminal trying to put this whole experience into perspective, I also thought of the dozens of military veterans who courageously returned their medals of honor from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. In opposition to NATO policies that have devastated these two countries, each of the veterans took turns hurling these medals toward McCormick Place where the delegates were meeting. Then I thought about the 17 busloads of Occupiers from the east and west coasts who traveled countless hours and miles just to have their voices heard in Chicago. Not all of those who traveled from out of town, though, were able to have their voices heard during the NATO summit; some of whom remain imprisoned to this day. Mostly I was thinking about the current state and trajectory of this movement of movements known as Occupy, which had such a strong presence there all weekend, and throughout the month. I thought about its vast challenges, as well as its unknown, but seemingly infinite possibilities ahead.