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NATO / G8 Anxiety Mounts for Downtown Business Leaders

By Chris Bentley in News on Jan 25, 2012 8:20PM

2011_8_29_NATO.gif Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce president Jerry Roper is sounding the alarm for downtown businesses four months in advance of the NATO and G8 Summits, which are expected to draw massive protest and demonstrations to the Loop.

Businesses on State Street and North Michigan Avenue should have 24-hour security, he said, and companies should give their employees the option of working from home if possible.

Roper wants specific details on street closures so businesses can start preparing for the May 19-20 summits, but U.S. Secret Service protocol withholds such information until two-to-four weeks before the event. The business leader said he plans to forge ahead nonetheless, the Sun-Times reports:

“We’re gonna force the issue. Mrs. Roper didn’t raise a bashful child."

[Executive director of NATO and G-8 Host Committee Lori] Healey countered, “Who’s he gonna force to do what? The Secret Service makes those announcements when they make those announcements. They’re working with us to try to minimize the impact. Their goal is not to create a security state and to make sure Chicago can function as normally as possible.”

Protesters might take issue with Healey’s faith in the authorities’ intent “not to create a security state.” City Council passed two ordinances last week to limit protests at the summits, against opposition from civil disobedience groups.

Premonitions of looting and property damage draw from previous summits gone awry, like the infamous “Battle in Seattle,” which cost downtown businesses millions in property damage and lost sales during the 1999 World Trade Organization conference.

Downtown businesses await a host committee meeting today, which could make things more clear.