Thousands demonstrated near McCormick Place, the site of the NATO meeting. A focus of the discussion among representatives of the major imperialist powers was how to scale down their troops in Afghanistan.
“I don’t support the war in Afghanistan,” Richard Freund, a retired member of the Machinists union from Fond Du Lac, Wis., told the Militant. “I thought things would change when Obama got in.”
Various contingents were prominent at the action, including some 100 Filipino youth representing several organizations around the country; 25 Pakistanis from the Chicago branch of Tehreek-e-Insaf, a Pakistani political party; supporters of the Muslim Solidarity Committee; and about 60 demanding freedom for Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera.
“We came to bring awareness about the longest held political prisoner in the U.S.,” said 22-year-old Jay Rivera, referring to López.
Some 40 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars took the stage and threw their war medals toward McCormick Place.
In addition, a contingent of some 100 anarchists dressed in black with scarves covering their faces participated. At one point they charged through the crowd trying to get to the front of the march.
Cop frame-up and smearFour days before the demonstration, cops and FBI agents raided an apartment building in the Bridgeport neighborhood. Breaking down doors with guns drawn, they arrested nine involved in protests leading up to the summit. After 48 hours, six were released without charges.
Jared Chase, 27, Brent Beterly, 24, and Brian Church, 22, were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism, and possession of an explosive incendiary device, reported Reuters. They were indicted under an Illinois anti-terrorism law never used before. It was passed following the bombing of the World Trade Center in 2001. Their bond was set at $1.5 million each.
Prosecutors allege the three were planning to attack the campaign headquarters of President Barack Obama, the house of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, police stations and financial institutions in downtown Chicago.
“The individuals we charged are not peaceful protesters, they are domestic terrorists,” Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez asserted at a news conference a day before the anti-war demonstration.
Chicago National Lawyers Guild attorneys representing the three said that they were entrapped by informants or undercover police. “From what we’ve learned, we believe it is a setup,” Michael Deutsch, Guild attorney, told the Chicago Tribune.
On the eve of the protest, prosecutors announced charges against two others—Mark Neiweem, 28, and Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24.
Neiweem was charged for allegedly trying to obtain explosives based on a discussion he had with an “associate” about making a pipe bomb and writing a list of material necessary to do so, reported the New York Times. Senakiewicz was charged with “falsely making a terrorist threat,” the Times reported, for allegedly claiming he had homemade explosives. Nothing was turned up in a search of his home.
News of the arrests was splashed across area media, smearing the planned anti-war march and intimidating people from attending.
“I tried to bring some friends with me but they were scared with all the news about violence,” David Velez, who came to the May 20 march, told the Militant.
When plans for protests at the summits were announced, Mayor Emanuel pressed for new restrictions on civil liberties. The City Council complied, passing new ordinances providing for increased use of surveillance cameras, new restrictions and higher fees for parades and demonstrations, and empowering the police superintendent to “deputize” out-of-state police officers.
At the protest thousands of Chicago cops, FBI and Secret Service agents lined the march route and monitored protesters’ activities. After the march ended, police dressed in riot gear severely beat several protesters with batons.
Jimmy, a neighbor of the three men arrested in Bridgeport, was originally not planning to attend the rally but “decided to come because if this could happen to me and my neighbors it can happen to anyone,” he said. Asking that his full name not be used, he said about 50 cops entered the building and went through apartments, including his own.
Laura Anderson contributed to this article.
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