It’s very strange to have my home town host NATO and NONATO this weekend. Strange partly since my health limits my ability to be in the streets as part of NONATO and I so miss it. But also odd to have our usual daily routines interrupted by the hyper security state that Rahm and his friends decided we need to protect us from all that dangerous free speech that might take place this week.
For months the local press has been full of stories about police and traffic closures and threats, all the things we’re supposed to fear this weekend. Businesses were told to have their workers stay home, a friend who lives in a high rise said the management sent around a notice that they would be doing ID checks, another friend who works on one of the tour boats at Navy Pier mentioned security briefings and warnings months ago. Just the other day we even had warnings that we all might be subject to cyberattacks too.
Yet Friday night the coverage in the Chicago Tribune was … actually rather positive, saying the demonstrations had been peaceful and generally taking a slightly bemused but definitely non-threatened tone.
Out in the neighborhoods it’s really quiet … most people are just staying home, avoiding the mess of transit disruptions and police lines. But all the folks I’ve talked to seem to just see the security hype as much ado about nothing – folks do not seem to have bought the be very afraid pressure from Rahm and his cohorts.
While simply an aggravation to most here, the arrival of NATO has been really bad for our local businesses – our email inboxes filled this week with special offers from restaurants and stores offering big discounts if we’ll come eat or shop this weekend. Even the big hotels are saying there’s no money in this event for them .So much for the capitalist value of NATO which seems mostly to be hurting local small businesses.
Now it seems we just weren’t afraid enough. The local media is all over the police tale of Molotov cocktails and all manner of evil three protesters were supposed to be planning – or should I say encouraged to plan by a CPD informants? With high bail set and all sorts of incendiary claims made by the CPD, the tone is very likely to change a lot – and I suspect the solidarity march called for 3:30 today will be much less happy than yesterday’s actions.
Throughout it all, I keep thinking about the costs of this whole event. Back in March, the Chicago Tribune reported that:
Chicago has a received a $19 million grant to cover the local security costs of the NATO summit this May, the city’s summit planners said as they announced they have raised more than $36 million in private donations for other costs.
And each time I think about that – $55 million dollars and all the police and plans, – I wonder why Rahm and his pals can to this to keep a few global elites “safe” from citizens and free speech but can’t seem to do anything about the horrific lack of security for Chicago’s own children:
In Chicago, more than 530 people under the age of 21 have been killed since 2008 and many more have been shot or have otherwise suffered violence.