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Thousands march to oppose police repression in run-up to NATO summit

Posted 2 years ago on May 19, 2012, 10:48 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

The following post is borrowed from Chicago Indymedia

Chicago saw thousands of people in the streets Saturday in the run-up to the beginning of the NATO summit. with the afternoon's boisterous but peaceful protest marches marred by sweeping police violence.

Protests began in the morning, when people gathered at the Irving Park Brown Line public transit stop to don hospital gowns and canvas the local neighborhood, then assembled at noon for the “Healthcare not Warfare!” action. That protest marched on the house of mayor Rahm Emanuel to protest his closure of half of the city’s public mental health clinics in a ‘cost-saving’ measure protesters say is both unnecessary and part of the city’s push to privatize public services.

At the same time, supporters of three men arrested in a Wednesday night raid at the Bridgeport apartment of Occupy Chicago activists were gathering at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California for the arrestees’ noon bail hearing. Each was slapped with a bond of $1.5 million; Cook County States’ Attorney Anita Alvarez had originally asked for $5 million bonds for each, and trotted out a litany of charges deployed in the first-ever use of the state’s anti-terrorism statutes, claiming the Florida residents, Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly, were making Molotov cocktails and planned to hit targets that included Obama campaign headquarters and Emanuel’s house. All three men had earlier in the week released a video that documented their targeted harassment by Chicago police, a tape which is said to have enraged local cops.

Protesters and attorneys have called the charges ludicrous, pointing out that the ‘bomb-making devices’ police and Alvarez referred to in their post-hearing press conference were actually a home beer brewing operation.

“It’s outrageous for the city to apply terrorism charges when it’s the police who have been terrorizing activists and threatening their right to protest,” said NLG attorney Sarah Gelsomino of the People’s Law Office.

Protesters called on the spot for an emergency protest to begin at 3:30 PM at LaSalle and Jackson, in the heart of the city’s financial district. LaSalle and Jackson has also been the home corner for a months-long Occupy Chicago presence and the staging of several large marches seeking to create an encampment at Congress and Michigan that has been repeatedly thwarted by police and produced hundreds of arrests last year.

The 3:30PM emergency protest eventually linked up with a planned evening anti-capitalist march that staged out of the Haymarket memorial and subsequently swelled to thousands, turning into a rolling wave of opposition to the Chicago police department’s sustained effort to thwart anti-NATO protests.

The protesters’ goal this week? To ratchet up attention on NATO, the military arm of the 1% -- a cold war relic with a clearly overtly aggressive military mission. NATO missions have killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, bombed Libya back into the stone age