A City Gripped by Fear and Defiance in the Face of the Threat of Police Violence During NATO Summit

Image by Occupy Western New York
Image by Occupy Western New York

Chicago, IL, May 12, 2012 – As the windy city declares martial law and attempts to  justify the fear-mongering and millions spent militarizing the city, Occupiers have declared their willingness to put their bodies on the line at NATO.

“The police will do what they will do and we will rise up and put our bodies on the line for the people of the world;” said Rachael Perrotta a participant of Occupy Chicago. “We’ve begun our ten days of action today with the People’s Summit. Street protest will begin on the 14th of May.”

Events will culminate on the 21st when Occupy Chicago intends to surround Boeing and shut down operations in protest of the company’s war profiteering that organizers have called tantamount to “War Crimes.”

The city of Chicago has spent millions of dollars in recent months in preparation for the potential of civil unrest during the NATO summit. They have purchased a million dollars’ worth of riot gear for their officers and police animals with tax payer’s dollars, including new face shields, helmets, gas masks, and shock shields to be used for protests during the summit instead of fully funding schools, clinics and city-workers’ pensions. They have also purchased at least one LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) which use first appeared during the Afghan/Iraqi wars for use against civilians there. Since its appearance cities all over the country have purchased the device with help from the Department of Defense’s Excess Property Program, or “1033 Program.

The 1033 Program is a Department of Defense program authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act over the past several years where the DoD gives money and used military surplus to state and local police departments, including military grade weapons. According to the 2011 NDAA, the Pentagon gave out 500 million dollars in surplus to police departments in the last year.

The LRAD device puts out an 88 decibel audio wave that can disable a crowd in a matter of moments, but some have criticized its use because there is a high likelihood of permanent inner ear damage similar to the damage cause by concussion grenades in small or closed spaces [Editor’s Note: For a thorough discussion of the militarization of U.S. police forces, see Sean Kitchen’s article, “This Is What a Police State Looks Like,” in the February issue of Raging Chicken Press].

Chicago will be placed under martial law for the NATO summit and there will be a shoot down first ask questions later “No Fly Zone policy,” in place over the city. “The people of Chicago are going to get a taste of what it’s like to live through a NATO operation when the police and the mayor turn Chicago into a militarized police state,” said Perrotta.

The Red Cross and FEMA have been asked to prepare for the evacuation of Chicago during the summit in the event violence and unspecified other incidents that may occur during the Summit. In Indiana, FEMA  has been asked to prepare for the possibility of one million dead according to documents leaked several weeks ago to the press. “Our direction comes from the city and the secret service, dozens of colleges, universities, community centers, and churches are standing by in southeastern Wisconsin just in case Chicagoans must leave their homes because of violence or any other reason connected to the summit,” said a spokesperson for the Red Cross.

 

 

“The city is engaged in a classic fear mongering model and their reasoning is to keep the people from expressing their First Amendment Rights’ against the NATO war machine,” said Perrotta.

The city has sent several officers down to Alabama to receive training from the Department of Home Land (in)Security and received advice on suppressing peoples’ Rights in recent months, which shows itself in the behavior of the Chicago Police Department and their leaders laissez-faire attitudes about abuses and the violation of citizen rights by their officers.

Indicative of this attitude by the Department is a video that made its appearance YouTube on May 10th 2012 in which several unidentified Officers in a police SUV, vehicle number 856, made a stop of several Occupiers for making a 3-point turn in a cul-de-sac. The Officers claimed they were trespassing.

 

 

In the video Officers can be heard interrogating the individuals about their association with Occupy and the activities being planned by the movement for the NATO  summit. The officers then threaten the group and protesters in general while searching the vehicle without obtaining the owner’s permission and without probable cause. At one point, the officers bring up the mass protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago:

“You like that, he knows, see these guys know, ’68. You guys know all about ’68, what did they say back in ’68,” the Officer Identified in the video as CPD Officer 1

“Billy club to the fucking skull,” CPD Officer 2

“Okay, now we’ll beat your white ass,” CPD Officer 3

Statements that are clearly an abuse of power by police at best and what is considered in many states as a terroristic threat.

“That’s not the full context of the conversation and…except for that one comment, something about 1968 and night sticks and skulls, I think that those officers acted professionally and it was a casual encounter,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy. McCarthy also added that the video was “clearly edited,” although his statement was true, it was clearly meant to mislead, minimize and discredit the video as being doctored. Such claims are seriously suspect given the fact that the full video–minus names and other private information–was posted immediately after the incident.

Also heard on the recording the officer said that they would clearly target protesters and that they would “save it up, save it all up for the summit.”

Expressing a clear disregard for the Constitution and the dignity of human life, the Superintendent’s comments contradict other comments he has made regarding the demonstrations. “We will not disperse any protests during the summit, if you treat people as individuals they act like individuals, if you treat them like a mob a mob is what you get,” said McCarthy.

“The Chicago Police Department and the Mayor’s Office have given themselves a black eye by targeting out-of-town protesters as well as Chicagoans who intend to stand up and voice their rage against NATO’s illegal wars, clearly the Chicago PD is at war with low-income communities and communities of color in this city. The Chicago City council passed a resolution against torture not because they’re a liberal body but because the Chicago police torture people and its cost the city millions in law suits,” said Perrotta.

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Cory Clark is covering the NATO Summit for Occupy Philly Media and Raging Chicken Press