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Letter To The Editor: Nato 2012

I have several concerns regarding the front page story, “NATO Summit 2012”. In the article, it is stated that the Summit ended up being a, “two day traffic inconvenience” and, “generated over $100 million dollars in…revenue”. Where did this figure come from? As many Chicagoans can attest, downtown was devoid of people during the Summit, countless businesses were closed or covered with boards and thousands did not go to work. I’m not sure the revenue figure cited takes into account the decline
in activity in the Loop during the Summit.

The article also says the Summit gave the Chicago Police Department, “additional training, equipment, and some much needed positive press.” The additional training included training conducted by the Department of Homeland Security in the state of Alabama and police officers from municipalities besides Chicago. What was the purpose of all of this training? The NATO demonstrations were peaceful and not a single window was broken in any building. This is despite the millions spent on police training and the fear mongering that went on in order to vilify peaceful protesters.

In contrast to the article, the police equipment the Chicago Police Department received cost millions of dollars and was issued through no-bid contracts determined by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.  While libraries close, mental health facilities are shuttered and we are repeatedly told the city is broke, somehow millions of dollars was found to pay for the police training and the Summit itself. Is this not a breach of social responsibility by elected officials to care for the most vulnerable in our
society? While the NATO Summit happened, at least 7 people were killed on the streets of Chicago, something the media neglected to report.

The article also describes the, “positive press” the police received due to their conduct during the Summit. The National Lawyers Guild is now reporting 117 arrests during the Summit, including 8 felony charges of terrorism. Never mind that the evidence for the felony charges was brought
to national attention due to the fact that the police used informants and undercover agents to watch those charged as well as others in the Occupy movement. The Guild is also reporting over 70 cases of police misconduct, including fractures, bloodied heads and bruises that people received from
the police. This is the world class police force your article mentions.

The article also neglected to include the protester hit by a police van, and the others who were detained at gun point and had their electronic equipment forcibly removed and destroyed. Several of the individuals charged with terrorism were confronted and stopped by police in the days before the Summit and were told that the police would be taking “billy clubs to their fucking skulls”. This is hardly any kind of positive press regarding the Chicago Police Department. The fact that activists have revealed who some of the undercover agents are is “disgusting” to police chief Gerry McCarthy, and it “more than upsets” Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, according to the Chicago Tribune. Never mind that were are supposed to be living in a democracy, founded on Constitutional rights that guarantee peaceful assembly, freedom of speech and the right to prove innocence before being accused of a crime.

I was in the march against NATO on Sunday, May 20, and the media’s portrayal of events missed a lot of what actually happened. We were gathered on Michigan Avenue near Cermak Road to hear speeches given by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were at least 10,000
people present. During the speeches the police, clad in riot gear, made their way down Michigan Avenue and disbanded the peaceful assembly of people gathered there. The Black Bloc group moved to the front of the march to protect others from the police, who proceeded to charge the crowd
with horses and surrounded the remaining protesters with batons, police vans and barricades.

We were told by the police, speaking through a Long Range Acoustical Device, or sound cannon, to disperse. There was no way to leave the area even though we were being told to do so, since the police were surrounding us from all sides. Then the police began hitting us with batons and physically shoving and pushing us out of their away. At one point I saw an elderly man being beaten by batons and pushed into a tree by police officers, and another elderly woman surrounded by police, who removed her walker and left her to fend for herself. The police then used batons to push this woman forward The media and television stations did not report any of this because they weren’t on the ground to see it. I will never forget the image of my fellow Americans, marching for peace and then
having blood running down their face thanks to the actions of the Chicago Police Department.

It was truly one of the most terrifying moments of my life, to see the power of the police used against peaceful demonstrators. The police had dogs held at bay from charging at us, face shields, riot shields and batons. CTA buses were used to transport the police around this area. Your article did not question the use of taxpayer dollars to support this kind of police brutality, nor did your article question why those buses were being used against peaceful protesters and not used on the streets of Chicago as a normal bus would. If the city could organize that much police presence against peaceful demonstrations, why are homicides continuing to increase in Chicago?

I decided to write to your newspaper because the byline states “Reporting Progressive News Weekly”.

Thank you,
Daniel Williams
Community Member West Garfield Park

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