Posted 12 months ago on May 20, 2012, 7:30 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
You wouldn't know it from watching CNN, but thousands of people have gathered this week in Chicago and elsewhere to peacefully express their indignation at a political system dominated by war and austerity. While world leaders gather for the G8 and NATO summits -- where they are discussing war plans and addressing their failed financial system with rhetoric alone -- Occupiers and our allies are not only holding our own workshops and discussions on the financial crisis, we are taking direct action to create a world that does not need their warfare or austerity. We are building a world without technocrats and political and financial elites, a world based on mutual aid, solidarity, direct democracy, and co-operation. Sometimes festive, sometimes militant, we are in the streets non-violently demanding health care, immigrant justice, ecological sustainability, education funding, and more. But the only thing corporate media wants to talk about is three people accused of making Molotov cocktails at the encouragement of police informants desperate to demonize nonviolent protesters in the public eye. In reality, the only violence this week has been perpetrated by the police themselves.
Here's what's really happened. (With pictures!)
The Catholic Workers rallied outside the Prudential Building, President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters. Eight anti-war protesters were arrested and charged with misdemeanor trespassing after sneaking past security guards and refusing to leave in an act of civil disobedience.
At Dyett High School in Washington Park, Chicago, Occupy Chicago, members of the Chicago Teachers Union, and high school students protested austerity and cuts to education as they rallied to save an art program at the school which is slated to be closed due to budget cuts. Protesters chanted, “Education is a right, not just for the rich and white!” One representative of the teachers union told media, “This city is spending $128 million on NATO, while they refuse to incorporate a bona fide art program into one of our area high schools. Where are our priorities?”
The Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission, Occupy El Barrio, and Occupy Chicago led a march for im/migrant rights, rallying first outside the Mission in Little Village before marching to the Lincoln Methodist Church in Pilsen and ending at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Chicago Immigration Court at Van Buren and Clinton. Protesters held a press conference and rallied against ICE policies. Some activists blockaded the door for over an hour. Father José Landaverde of the Anglican Mission and another activist were arrested; afterward, the crowd formed another picket and march. Two more were arrested after police formed a line to prevent the march from crossing a street. Witnesses say those arrested were on the sidewalk. One was charged with aggravated battery of a police officer, despite witnesses saying otherwise. The others were charged with criminal trespass.
Later in the day, an impromptu anti-police brutality march was called. A few hundred Occupiers marched and chanted through the streets for over three miles across the city. One area resident told local mainstream press, “I’m glad they got a march because the police are crazy out here. They come out here roughing us up … sending innocent people to jail.” There were no arrests.
Hundreds of people from Occupy Chicago and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction marched to banks and government offices around Daley Plaza, including the Chicago Board of Trade and a Citibank. Protesters demanded that Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart implement a one-year moratorium on evicting homeowners facing foreclosure. Deputy Chief of Staff Dana Wright from the Sheriffs office showed up and pledged that Dart would meet with two Occupy delegates to suggest a later public meeting on foreclosures.
Protesters re-enacted the eviction of a Cook County family, portraying Sheriff Dart as a tool of greedy banks. The rally ended just before noon, when a few Occupiers carried furniture including a couch, chair, rug, and a lamp into the lobby of a Citibank branch. Four people were arrested during the protest. One person was charged with a felony count of aggravated battery of a police officer and a misdemeanor count of obstructing traffic, and the others with one count of misdeamour trespass. The furniture was also detained by CPD.
Occupy, CodePink and hundreds of activists marched from President Barack Obama’s re-election headquarters to three consulates of NATO countries to protest the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Dozens of CPD officers blocked off Prudential Plaza. The Occupiers staged a die-in, using a model drone to draw attention to civilian deaths caused by drone strikes. They then marched up Michigan Avenues, protesting at the Canadian, British, and German consulates, calling on the countries to withdraw from NATO and denounce the war on Afghanistan. Thursday also saw a large Critical Mass bike ride against environmental injustice.
The morning began with thousands gathering at Daley Plaza to support a rally of the National Nurses Union calling for a Robin Hood Tax of 0.5 percent on financial institutions’ transactions to pay for health care, education, and other social safety net services. Many musicians, including Tom Morello, performed to an exuberant crowd.
After the rally, an unpermitted environmental march left from Daley Plaza. Thousands joined, and police were extremely aggressive. One person tore down a NATO banner before being spirited away by protesters. Hundreds then conducted a sit-in in front of the Board Of Traders and the Federal Reserve Building. Read more about Fridays events.
Occupiers joined with the Mental Health Movement at the Irving Park transit station, donning hospital gowns and canvassing the local neighborhood, before thousands took the streets and marched to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's home. The MHM have been occupying mental health clinics slated for closure due to the city's austerity programs (even as the city spends millions in public funding on hosting the NATO conference). The large crowd staged a peaceful sit-in in the road in front of Rahm´s house demanding ¨Health Care Not Warfare!¨ and an end to cuts in services for the poor. There were no arrests. See more.
Afterward, Occupiers marched back to LaSalle and Jackson, the heart of the city’s financial district where Occupy Chicago held an encampment last year, in an impromptu show of support for the #NATO3. At 6:30pm, an anti-capitalist march gathered at the Haymarket memorial. The two groups met up and, despite being nonviolent, were brutally attacked by police. Medics reported nurmerous injuries including bruised ribs from baton strikes. Several protesters were bloodied; at least one was taken away in an ambulance after being intentionally struck by a police van. Read more.
Meanwhile, in Frederick County, Maryland, protesters gathered to protest the G8 -- which was originally scheduled for Chicago but moved to Camp David, a secure military base near the small town of Thurmont, Maryland. Those who protested included anti-war groups, activists fighting anti-genetically modified crops, and around 200 Ethiopian expatriates protesting the presence of the Ethiopian prime minister at the G8. 25 members of Occupy Baltimore traveled to the area to canvass locals about why they oppose the G8. Nearby Occupy Frederick also held the Occupy G8 People's Summit on Friday and a Counter G8 Community Bloc Party.
Despite the lack of a threat of violence, police donned riot gear and were armed with bean-bag shotgun shells and chemical munitions on the streets of the quiet, small town. A police spokesperson told corporate media, "There have been no criminal acts committed, no assaults, destruction of property, no vandalism." Nevertheless, Thurmont taxpayers are left with a $20,000 price tag for policing the totally peaceful event.
Also on Saturday, 25-30,000 people gathered in Frankfurt to protest against austerity at the European Central Bank as the German Chancellor (a proponent of austerity in the European Union) traveled to the U.S. to meet with President Obama and other world leaders at the G8. The event was the culmination of a week of nonviolent civil disobedience planned by the Blockupy Alliance, consisting of Occupiers, indignad@s, and social justice movements from across Germany and Europe. Hundreds of people were arrested after protesters peacefully defied a government ban on most of the protests. Read more.
A “Say No to the War and Poverty Agenda” event is scheduled to take place at Petrillo Bandshell followed by a march to McCormick Place. Jesse Jackson, SEIU Health Care Illinois/Indiana, the United National Antiwar Coalition, Chicago Teachers Union, National Nurses United, United Electrical Workers Western Region, Malik Mujahid of the Muslim Peace Coalition, Veterans for Peace, and more will participate.
The largest march against #NATO will be from Grant Park to the convention center where the summit is scheduled to begin at 1:30PM CDT.
Among other events and marches, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will converge in Grant Park to march to the NATO summit. There, they will ceremoniously return their medals to NATO’s generals. From Iraq Veterans Against the War:
“We were awarded these medals for serving in the Global War on Terror, a war based on lies and failed policies.” Calling this a march for justice and reconciliation, veterans say they will mobilize to “demand that NATO immediately end the occupation of Afghanistan and related economic and social injustices, bring U.S. war dollars home to fund our communities, and acknowledge the rights and humanity of all who are affected by these wars.