May Looking Messy For Chicago

Ryan Tolley, Staff Writer


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

May is right around the corner and Chicago will be welcoming the G8 and NATO summits May 19-21 but the question that lingers will be, is everyone going to welcome this as a great monumental event for the city of Chicago? The simple answer is no, Emanuel’s own city leaders have felt left in the dark over the planning of this event. No one can blame them as it gets closer to May and it already seems to be falling apart. From past world summit events, the one fact that is clear is there will be massive protest as some people see the summits as an event to cater to the world’s influential and wealthy who wage war for self-interest. How many people can we expect to show up to protest this event is unclear but there is evidence that this will not be a small protest by any means.

The Occupy Chicago movement last fall had thousands of people show up but the numbers are expected to be far greater in May. Adbusters, the website that helped organized the Occupy movements, has called for 50,000 people to show to protest the G8 and NATO summits for the month of May. Other sources have averaged the turnout will be around 35,000 protesters, around the same that showed up for the Republican National Convention in 2008. According to the Chicago Tribune, in August 160 members from 50 groups met at Kent College of Law to lay the plans for week long protests at the summits. There are also websites that provide plans as to where to find local organizations, where the protest will meet, which streets the protesters will march on and at which hotels to book.

Chicago is gearing down to deal with the mass protests with a couple of different changes to laws. According to the Huffington Post, Mayor Emanuel has increased fines for resisting arrest, aiding in escape, also amending opening hours for public parks and benches and is able to hire private or public security forces to help with protesters. Other laws state that speaker systems or banners larger than one person to carry will require special permits. Also, a law that has been in place for a while, the eavesdropping law, makes is illegal to audio-record any police officer in Chicago. All of the laws in place might scare some people who do not feel the possible penalties are worth the risk to protest but most people are planning, and getting ready, to stand their ground for what they believe.

These new laws put into place would make people believe the police are ready to handle the expected protests. However, according to the Chicago Reader, one veteran police officer, who remained anonymous, stated, “I have no idea when I’m going to get any specific training, so I’ve gone ahead and ordered some books from Amazon on riots. This isn’t good.” Others have started their own training program since they are ill prepared and have no riot training for the large amounts of people they will be expecting, “We will start implementing our own training on a weekly basis, so we can practice formations so we can be ready.” A couple of officers have gone out on their own and ordered tear gas and other equipment. Protesters and police officers alike are hoping that history will not repeat itself and turn out like the 1968 riots. Hopefully, both sides will take measures to organize themselves properly.