NATO Protests End Peacefully

By aaroncynic in News on May 22, 2012 8:40PM

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Aaroncynic/Chicagoist

Last night marked the end of major protests surrounding the NATO summit, where protesters first spent the afternoon demonstrating in front of Obama campaign headquarters on Randolph at Michigan. A few hundred people gathered in the street, spoke out against NATO policies, Obama, the city, and other issues and interests that are tied to what they feel is a crumbling and corrupt society. Members of the National Lawyers Guild and other activists also spoke out about the violence which occurred on Sunday.

After peacefully dispersing from Randolph and Michigan, demonstrators converged in the western portion of the Loop and by the time they arrived at Jackson and Lasalle, more than 500 were in the streets marching to call attention to what they say are racist and intimidating policies from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At the corner of Harrison and Dearborn, hundreds sat down and spoke out in front of ICE headquarters, specifically highlighting the proposed building of a detention center in south suburban Crete. The rally concluded on Congress and Michigan, the site of many Occupy Chicago general assemblies and two sets of arrests last year. "We are here to stand in solidarity and in the memory of 300 Occupy Chicago members arrested last year," said one demonstrator.

As demonstrators continued to speak and paint various messages across the sidewalk with chalk, police surrounded the square, many clad in riot gear. Several undercover officers worked the crowd, and at least two situations occurred where undercover officers, dressed as protesters, targeted demonstrators for arrest. The mood became tense very quickly, and rumors of more arrests and potential other violent acts from both sides worked their way through the few hundred people left in the park.

Eventually, a spontaneous march of between 100 and 200 protesters headed west on Van Buren, snaking quickly through the loop as evening turned into night. Police struggled to catch up to the protesters, who ran down several streets with what seemed like little direction or destination. Riot police were deployed in several areas, and many downtown streets and buildings were blocked off, but ultimately, police seemed to give the run of an empty and otherwise silent loop to demonstrators. As the evening wore on, more and more people left the march, which culminated in a small group that staged a sit in on Lake and Michigan.