Urban Police State Environment: Chicago Militarized for NATO
May 21, 2012
Stephen Lendman / Global Research
A Chicago resident and activist reports on the Military Occupation of Chicago: "Ready or not, NATO arrived on May 19 and 20. Chicago's in virtual lockdown. Residents feel occupied. Security is extremely tight. F-16s, Blackhawk helicopters, and drones patrol Chicago area skies. Elaborate barricades were erected in preparation.Police may confront protesters violently. Local residents were warned to stay away. For many, conducting normal activities will be nightmarish."
Urban Police State Environment:
Chicago Militarized for NATO
Detailed Report from Chicago
Stephen Lendman / Global Research
CHICAGO (May 20, 2012) -- Ready or not, NATO arrived on May 19 and 20. Chicago's in virtual lockdown. Residents feel occupied. Building occupants got special instructions.
This writer's residence advised "leaving town between May 18 -- 22." Otherwise limit city travel. Have essentials on hand, including food and water. Consider working at home. Avoid certain parts of the city. Observe curfew and other mandates.
No large deliveries will be allowed. Special precautions are being taken. Visitors must have verifying photo IDs. Vehicular restrictions will be enforced. Portions of the building will be locked and inaccessible. Avoid large gatherings if at all possible. Stay close to home.
In early May, CBS local affiliate Channel 2 reported that "the government is informing small plane pilots that if they enter (a restricted) no-fly zone during the summit, they might be shot down."
"This is no joke," the report continued. "It will be enforced from May 19 to May 21."
The FAA established flight advisory rules. Non-commercial aircraft are prohibited from flying within 10 nautical miles of downtown at altitudes below 18,000 feet.
Restrictions also include an outer perimeter extending 10 -- 30 miles around Chicago. All aircraft violating flight restrictions will be intercepted. The advisory states:
"The United States Government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft, if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat."
"Be advised that noncompliance with the published may result in the use of force."
Violators face criminal penalties. For three days, no-fly zone enforcement extends from Lake County, IN to Lake County, IL. It includes Cook and DePage Counties as well as portions of Lake Michigan.
O'Hare and Midway Airports are affected. So are small suburban ones. Around a dozen overall face restrictions. When Obama arrives, he'll be well protected downtown. So will other heads of state and their entourages.
Security is extremely tight. F-16s, Blackhawk helicopters, and drones patrol Chicago area skies. Elaborate barricades were erected in preparation.
Police may confront protesters violently. Local residents were warned to stay away. For many, conducting normal activities will be nightmarish. With dozens of motorcades coming, so will traffic.
Secret Service operatives head Operation Red Zone enforcement. They'll direct federal, state and local law enforcement.
Militarized May Day was dress rehearsal preparation. Police patrolled streets in battle dress. McCormick Place is summit headquarters. Nonetheless, virtually the entire Loop and surrounding areas are locked down.
High police visibility began May 1. Protest groups were briefed. Marches require permits. Strict restrictions apply.
Occupy Chicago, other OWS participants, Veterans against War, immigrants and environmental rights groups, National Nurses United, CANG8, unions, and other organizations marched on May 1 under the slogan:
"We are Workers. We are Students. We are Documented. We are Undocumented. We are Occupiers."
"They are Detaining Us. They are Shutting Down our Clinics. They are Closing our Schools. They are Taking our Wealth. They are Busting our Unions."
"Come May 1st. We are on the March! Join Us!"
From May 19 -- 21, they're back.
On Monday, May 14, protesters began "A Week without Capitalism." Dozens of Catholic Worker movement members demonstrated outside Obama's campaign headquarters. Several were arrested.
On Tuesday, an anti-capitalist march took place near downtown from 6:30-PM to midnight. A same day Trinity Episcopal Church meeting discussed ways to stop police brutality and help victims recover.
On Wednesday, National Lawyers Guild and StreetMedics representatives held a nonviolence training seminar. Occupy Chicago and Communities United against Foreclosure and Eviction protested downtown. A Daley Plaza rally concluded it.
On Thursday, healthcare demonstrations were held. In addition, a protest march proceeded to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home.
On Friday, National Nurses United and Rage Against the Machine rallied downtown in Daley Plaza. At issue are medical service cuts and demands to tax Wall Street.
A same day Arts to Oppose NATO featured an evening of poetry, songs, information, and resistance against NATO war crimes. David Rovics and Outernational Unplugged participated.
Planned weekend events are numerous. Local groups, students, environmental activists, bikers, Planet over War, and other planned demonstrations will march, hold rallies, and feature local speakers. Participants have been briefed to maintain nonviolence no matter what confronts them.
The Chicago Tribune and Sun Times provide detailed coverage. On May 18, the Tribune headlined "Ready, set: Here comes NATO summit weekend," saying:
Chicagoans are braced for "a little pomp, a little circumstance, a lot of inconvenience, a splash of spring colors, a maze of barricades, street and museum closings, and a loud exercise of that most American of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment."
Some will take part in planned activities. Others will protest against a laundry list of crimes, abuses, and neglect nonviolently. Until Friday, demonstrations were small.
Through the weekend, the dynamic will change markedly. Tens of thousands on both sides converge on city streets, parks and plazas. Secret Service contingents were out in force. So were state police, National Guard forces, and thousands of Chicago cops.
America's First Amendment will be sorely tested. It guarantees free expression and assembly rights.
Article I, Section 4 of Illinois' Constitution affirms "FREEDOM OF SPEECH," saying:
"All persons may speak, write and publish freely, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. In trials for libel, both civil and criminal, the truth, when published with good motives and for justifiable ends, shall be a sufficient defense."
Section 5 affirms the "RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE AND PETITION," saying:
"The people have the right to assemble in a peaceable manner, to consult for the common good, to make known their opinions to their representatives and to apply for redress of grievances."
Previous global justice, G8, G20, IMF, World Bank, and other protests elsewhere produced serious rights violations. Throughout the weekend, Chicago may replicate them.
During the 1968 Democrat national convention, extreme Chicago police violence confronted anti-war demonstrators. Chilling images still resonate.
A Los Angeles Police Department observer said: "There is no question but that many officers acted without restraint and exerted force beyond that necessary under the circumstances. The leadership at the point of conflict did little to prevent such conduct and the direct control of officers by first line supervisors was virtually non-existent."
Residents with long memories fear weekend police violence may replicate that type extreme harshness. Played out on national television, millions watched and cringed. Brutality replaced restraint Mayor Richard J. Daley ordered police to "shoot to kill arsonists and shoot to maim looters.... As long as I am mayor of this city, there's going to be law and order in Chicago."
On August 22, an unarmed protester was shot to death. Brutal beatings occurred all week. Journalists as well as protesters were attacked. Many dozens were treated at local hospitals. Hundreds were arrested. Senator Abe Ribicoff interrupted his George McGovern nominating speech to denounce "Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago." If anti-NATO violence occurs, expect no leading politician to replicate him.
Days after the convention ended, local residents remember Daley's Freudian slip, saying:
"The policeman isn't there to create disorder. The policeman is there to preserve disorder."
Chicago cops specialize in doing it violently. Their reputation is ugly and notorious.
On May 18, Chicago Sun Times columnist Lynn Sweet headlined "Whose drone is it? US Military providing support for Chicago NATO Summit," saying:
"Defense Department spokesman George Little said US military support will help summit security. NORTHCOM will be present, perhaps in force. Details weren't provided."
Following the Camp David G8 Summit, Obama arrives Saturday night. On Sunday, meetings follow. War, occupation, and other strategies will be discussed. Expect Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran to get considerable attention.
On May 17, a National Lawyers Guild (NLG) press release condemned preemptive police raids and lawless searches, saying:
On Thursday, "a preemptive police raid took place at approximately 11:30pm Wednesday in the Bridgeport neighborhood, and instances of harassment on the street, in which Chicago police are unlawfully detaining, searching, and questioning NATO protesters."
"The Bridgeport raid was apparently conducted by the Organized Crime Division of the Chicago Police Department and resulted in as many as 8 arrests."
Witnesses said cops burst into a six-unit apartment building violently with no search warrant. Doing so is illegal. They entered an apartment guns drawn. One tenant was tackled in his kitchen. Two were handcuffed for two hours in their living room while police searched their apartment and a neighboring one.
Repeatedly they called one tenant a "Commie faggot." A search warrant produced four hours later had no judicial authorizing signature. Beer-making supplies and one or more cell phones were seized.
NLG attorney Sarah Gelsomino said:
"Preemptive raids like this are a hallmark of National Special Security Events. The Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies should be aware that this behavior will not be tolerated and will result in real consequences for the city."
Expect lawsuits to follow. What's next is uncertain. Settlements may include monetary payments to plaintiffs.
In another downtown incident, three plainclothes cops lawlessly stopped, handcuffed, searched, detained, and interrogated a NATO protester. No probable cause justified it. The subject refused to answer all questions. Hours later he was released.
NLG got reports of at least 20 other arrests. Some remain in custody. Los Angeles immigrant rights activist Danny Johnson was accused of assaulting a police officer during a protest rally and arrested. Witnesses contradicted police accusations.
Throughout the weekend, NLG staff remain on call to provide legal services for anyone mistreated or arrested. Scores of NLG observers are deployed on streets. They'll record police misconduct firsthand.
Past experience suggests considerable police violence before summit activities end. Committing it should make NATO participants feel right at home.
NATO SUMMIT: Life in Occupied Chicago
Stephen Lendman / Global Research
CHICAGO (May 20, 2012) -- Through Monday, downtown residents live in occupied Chicago. Secret Service agents, NORTHCOM and National Guard forces, as well as thousands of state and local police seem everywhere. Getting around feels hazardous. Anyone may be stopped, searched, interrogated, even arrested.
Residents were advised to hunker down and stay out of harm's way as best as possible. For many, it's not easy. More on a city under siege below. NATO is the world's first global war-making alliance. Largely a US imperial tool, it's a killing machine. Its 28 members and dozens of partner states comprise about one-third of the world's nations.
Article 4 of its charter calls for members to "consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any" is threatened.
Article 5 considers an armed attack (real or otherwise) against one or more members, an attack against all, and calls for collective self-defense.
Imperial conquests are planned. Wars are launched. Fundamental laws are violated. Nonbelligerent states are targeted. Vast destruction follows. Millions die. Human misery is incalculable. One conflict follows another in an endless cycle of worldwide collective punishment.
NATO's a global menace, a killing machine, a weapon of mass destruction threatening humanity, an alliance for war, conquest and dominance, not peace.
Enemies don't exist so they're invented. Wealth and power interests alone benefit. Humanitarian intervention is code language for aggressive wars. Pretexts are contrived to wage them.
NATO plans global dominance. China's being encircled. Encroachment approaches Russia's borders. It's targeted by strategic missiles for offense, not defense. At the 2010 Munich Conference, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:
After the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact dissolved, "a real opportunity emerged to make the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) a full-fledged organization providing equal security for all states of the Euro-Atlantic area."
"However, the opportunity was missed, because the choice was made in favor" of expanding NATO eastward to Russia's borders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message. He cancelled plans to attend the May 18 and 19 G8 summit. He won't be with NATO states in Chicago. Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev represents him. Both leaders are justifiably concerned.
Putin participated in the Moscow Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit with most former Soviet Republics.
On May 3 and 4, 50 nations attended the Moscow missile defense conference. Representatives from NATO's 28 states came. So did China, Japan, and South Korea.
At issue was America's so-called missile shield. It represents major friction between Moscow and Washington. So is concern about war on Syria and Iran, as well as Obama administration officials fomenting and backing anti-government protests in Russia.
Putin's not silent. He opposes America's aggressive wars. In February 2007 at Munich's 43rd Conference, he said:
He'd "avoid excessive politeness." He said "what (he) really (felt) about international security problems."
What is a unipolar world, he asked? "(A)t the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making."
It's a world with "one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within. And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority."
"Incidentally, Russia -- we -- are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves."
He categorically rejected unipolarity.
"Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force -- military force -- in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way."
He "unequivocally" advocates "non-proliferation." He opposes imperial wars. He favors international cooperation, not confrontation. He seeks "responsible and independent partners" for peace in a "fair and democratic world order that (will) ensure security and prosperity not only for a select few, but for all." He's out of sync with warrior NATO states.
His remarks didn't go down well in Washington. At the time, Bush was still president. Since 2009, Obama exceeded his worst policies. He threatens global war. Putin and other leaders are concerned. So are tens of thousands protesting on Chicago streets.
On May 18, The New York Times headlined "Chicago Protests Draw Thousands Before NATO Event," saying:
"On Friday, they filled a downtown city plaza. Throughout the weekend, other protests and marches will follow. Police lined downtown streets. Busloads of out-of-town participants arrived. Police confirmed 13 arrests. Protest groups added another nine seized earlier in the week. Police declined "to comment or even confirm additional arrests, saying the case is continuing."
On May 18, the Chicago Sun Times said three protesters were "charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism." They're accused of three felony crimes. They include alleged possession of an explosive or incendiary device, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and providing material support to terrorism. No evidence whatever proved it.
According to National Lawyers Guild (NLG) attorney Sarah Gelsomino:
"We cannot say enough that we believe that these charges are absolutely....very trumped up charges. (They're) clearly an attempt to continue this intimidation campaign on activists. Charging these people who are here to peacefully protest against NATO for terrorism, when in reality the police have been terrorizing activists in Chicago, is absolutely outrageous."
Accusations claimed Molotov cocktail preparations. Gelsomino added:
Police "provided no evidence of criminal intent or wrongdoing on the part of the activists."
The men were driving. Police squad cars stopped them. They were "detained for no apparent reason and asked questions about why they were in Chicago and what they planned to do during the NATO summit."
Other arrests were made. On Friday, some were released. Police had no comment. They prepared months before NATO's arrival. Crowd control training using special equipment is involved.
Sound cannon use is planned. They emit ear-splitting chirping noise. Called LRAD (long range acoutic device), it's able to cause permanent hearing loss and other ill effects. The Illinois ACLU and other groups protested against using military technology on peaceful civilian demonstrators. Chicago's version mounts mid-sized satellite dishes on vehicles or atop high poles. They focus intense sound beams on targets. They cover a 30-degree arc up to 1,600 feet away. They reach 150 decibels.
According to the National Institute of Deafness, noise above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. University of Missouri Professor Karen Piper participated in an earlier G20 protest. LRAD sound cannons were used. She partially lost hearing and sued. She said:
"The intensity of being hit at close range by a high-pitched sound blasts… is indescribable. The sound vibrates through you and causes pain throughout your body, not only in the ears. I thought I might die. It is shocking that (this) device is being promoted for use on American citizens and the general public."
Police deny clear dangers. Official statements call LRAD a "risk management tool."
Cops are also equipped with new armor, shields, "hippie-beaters," surveillance cameras, and other devices and equipment. On Friday, thousands marched through downtown streets. NLG lawyer Ben Meyer denounced what he called an excessive police presence. Dozens of officers milled through crowds. Some videotaped activities.
"It's frustrating that the state needs to come out and show this much force," he said. At issue was a nurses' rally. Occupy Chicago and other OWS activists joined them. "They have everyone from from the superintendent on down there. It's just ridiculous."
Dozens of protesters blocked Michigan Avenue traffic peacefully. It’s close to where this writer lives. Confrontations with police followed. One or more arrests were made for "aggravated battery of a police officer." Bogus charges like this occur often. Cops commit violence. Victims are blamed. Justice is denied. The Chicago Tribune called Friday a "peaceful start to NATO protests." In fact, scattered confrontations occurred. Roads were blocked. Demonstrators chanted "these are our streets (and) parks."
Larger-scale Saturday rallies and marches followed. Others are planned for Sunday. NLG's Gelsomino said arrests made are done to scare protesters. "This is playbook. [It's] shoddy police work. It's a fear campaign."
The Chicago Sun Times headlined "What does an anarchist look like -- or stand for?" saying: They "don't conform to dress codes." They resemble "ordinary" people. They oppose war and resent being called anarchists.
The Sun Times also published a "NATO Survival Guide." It advised staying home. For those traveling around the city, it said "good luck." Expect traffic, bus and train delays. Some roads are closed. Open ones will be congested. Expect patdowns, searches and other screenings. Forget about local museums and other downtown attractions. Stay far away from McCormick Place NATO headquarters. Avoid the South Side entirely. Major arteries will be closed. Even side streets north of the Chicago River in this writer's neighborhood are affected.
To accommodate heads of state entourages, Kennedy Expressway to O'Hare airport will experience unannounced "rolling closures" over its entire route. Through Monday, expect delays, discomfort, disruptions, and unprovoked police confrontations. Hopefully peaceful rallies and marches won't become battlegrounds.
Given Chicago PD's odious reputation, odds are long against avoiding what some longtime residents fear. NATO doesn't arrive anywhere peacefully. Why should Chicagoans expect otherwise?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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