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It's been a week since the NATO protests and I've been thinking about them on and off, especially after reading a few Crain's Chicago Business articles that questioned whether the whole shebang was really good for the city and its businesses. A sample below:

What seems like a good idea at the start can quickly go sour, as anyone who's ever offered to pick up the tab in a crowded bar can attest. Still mildly hung over from the NATO experience, we now await a full accounting of the weekend's total cost.

Our guess is that the “Blues Brothers”-scale army of security personnel so visible throughout the NATO conference will be pricey, though presumably the feds will chip in something to defray that particular expense. Just how much we won't know for a while.

The city's restaurants, retailers, cabbies and museums—idled as Chicagoans avoided the Loop the way a preschooler avoids a salad bar —won't be so lucky. Could these businesses apply for federal disaster relief? They may have a case...

And oddly, in its zeal to train the locals to duck and cover, Chicago may have inadvertently reinforced the cow-town image we seem so eager to shake: Out-of-town media reports, while highlighting the city's charms, also noted the overwhelming police presence and the almost otherworldly emptiness of the downtown area.

As I thought about public event rowdiness and violence, I remembered how some of our sports fans get really riled up after a close game with a hated rival. Not pleasant to be around as they surge into the streets. Even our storied St. Patricks Day Parades have ended badly some years as fake Irish with their leprechaun t-shirts grappled with police while barfing up green beer.

The anti-war protesters did not shut down half the downtown, that was the city government's idea. As for the small businesses on the parade route, the ones who stayed open that Sunday did a booming business.  Dunkin Donuts was packed with both protesters and cops getting snacks and the convenience stores selling drinks were busy as well. I bought a quart of mineral water from a bar that stayed open and downed the whole thing because of the heat. There was a line at the cash register.

BTW, Chicago has parades for every occasion, handled properly, they provide revenue for the vendors who sell refreshments and trinkets. Chicagoans are quite used to parades of all types. In fact, why didn't the city welcome the anti-war protesters instead forcing ridiculous restrictions on them and making the whole permit process more unpleasant than an IRS audit. The city could have presented itself as fair minded and open to all sides. Nah, this is Chicago where dissenters are viewed by the city authorities as no better than stray urban coyotes lurking in Grant Park.

And what were those Blackhawk helicopters doing when they buzzed the city and suburbs? I mean besides terrifying the locals.

In my opinion, the city government wanted violence. As parades go, the Sunday May 20th anti-war march was fairly small, only about 10,000 people. Most of them left when the veterans ceremony was over on Cermak Road. I went home about 30 minutes before the trouble started to accompany a neighbor who looked distressed because of the heat, but being surrounded by aggressive shoving riot police, constantly being nearly run down by bike cops, fenced in by barricades and being ordered to move to one area only to find that was blocked was an invitation for trouble.

I don't have any details about the stabbing of the cop in the leg that the media referenced or how the officer received it. It's been a week and I have seen no further mention of it. The Chicago Police are not a reliable source of information, so that does not surprise me.

Most of the injuries were among peaceful demonstrators caught up in a violence they did not want any part of. I might add that most of the police were well behaved and just wanted to collect their paychecks and go home. We had a few thugs on our side, the police had many more. If the police command wanted a peaceful ending they would have cooperated with the parade organizers.

Parade organizers had worked hard to reason with the Black Bloc but received no cooperation from the police at the end of the march.The police chief obviously wanted to be the "hero" of the day and get column inches in our local news tabloid.

As for the Black Bloc, there were a couple of hundred of them and most of them were not violent in any way. They had some obnoxious chants and dressed in black on a hot day so that they were pretty sweaty by the end, but other than that, they were just being theatrical. I'm sure they were well infiltrated and that the police had a pretty good idea of who they were and their capabilities.

The few anti-war demonstrators who were looking for trouble ensured that the veterans ceremony was shoved out of the media attention so that they got their headlines along with our "heroic" police chief who penned us in like animals and then pretended to be surprised when there was pushing, shoving and violence. The Battle of Cermak Road ended ignominiously, but with no fatalities.

The few jerks among the demonstrators did not bomb villages, unleash drone strikes, massacre peasants or fight wars for oil and geo-political control over resources. In fact, neither did the more numerous jerks among the cops. There were no  people left with catastrophic brain injuries, scarred bodies or missing limbs. There were no crippling instances of PTSD. There no graves, marked or unmarked. That kind of violence was the responsibility of the NATO leaders who were a few blocks to the east of us.

The real violence was being planned there. Not by some assholes in black, either in riot police uniforms or with anarchist slogans on their t-shirts.

After inflicting this whole NATO G-8 debacle on the beleaguered citizens of Chicago, Mayor Emanuel (aka Mayor 1%) is now trying to screw the cops out of the overtime they earned during the NATO weekend. He did offer them some Sox tickets though. The police union was not impressed and has several formal grievances filed against the city.

Rahm, please find some other line of work where you can do no harm. You clearly have no idea how to govern a major American metropolis.

Sources Consulted:

Editorial: Chicago was sold a bill of NATO goods from Crains' Chicago Business

OpEd: Did NATO spiff up Chicago's image? Who knows? by  Bill Savage

Here's something to protest: big banks by  Greg Hinz

Originally posted to BobboSphere on Sun May 27, 2012 at 07:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Progressive Hippie.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Nah. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, JeffW, shenderson, wu ming
    The anti-war protestors did not shut down half the downtown, that was the city government's idea.
    Everybody I know who worked downtown was told to work at home on Friday and Monday.

    That was the companies' and office building managers' doing, not the city's.

    "The disturbing footage depicts piglets being drop kicked and swung by their hind legs. Sows are seen being kicked and shoved as they resist leaving their piglets."

    by Bush Bites on Sun May 27, 2012 at 07:47:31 AM PDT

    •  I wonder... (4+ / 0-)

      What if the city had said, please remain open, New York and DC have events like this all the time without major disruption, we want business to proceed normally. Instead they treated the whole thing like it was DefCon 4.

      As for the protests, with all of the surveillance and spying going on, the city had to know what the protest committees knew, that there was not going to be an overwhelming turnout. This was especially true after the G-8 pulled out. That effectively took organized labor out of the picture along with a lot of other groups.

      If Rahm wanted it to play out another way, he would used the considerable influence of his LaSalle St friends on the institutions and businesses in the Loop to just act normally and open our city to its international visitors.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Sun May 27, 2012 at 08:02:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think they wanted violence. (5+ / 0-)

    I think the show of militarized force was designed to repress the free exercise of speech and assembly.

    It was also painfully clear, and educational, the extraordinary steps that will be taken to prevent multi national big wigs (the 1%, even if in government or the military) from being exposed to the public.  A virtual moat was put around them.  How appropriate.

    I expect more and more multi national shindigs will be held in private at moated places like Camp David.  Totally expected in the age of the 1%.

    "A Republic, if you can keep it."

    by Publius2008 on Sun May 27, 2012 at 09:04:31 AM PDT

    •  It wouldn't surprise me if the 'shindigs' stay in (4+ / 0-)

      big cities, with ever more stringent gating/moats and more militarized police presence, since the point of all that security theater is the physical 'message' of keeping people in line and in submission and to make an frightening example of those who fail to heed the submit message.  

      If you don't submit, in advance, you are a terrorist threat and will be held up as an example of police power to control and "maintain order".  The media will happily show "violent" protesters getting beaten, sprayed, cuffed, molested, have your property taken away/destroyed, and dragged off to rot in vans, trucks or cells for 18hrs or more, then in crowded cells, often without access to toilets, water, medicine, etc. And subject to further physical harassment out of view of the media or accountability, easy for police to deny.  And, you'll get at least a local and federal dossier opened, or criminal record added to it, unless you have a good lawyer and go to court. Regardless, a record with photos, video, police commentary, that will 'follow you' wherever you go in the future.

      If they really did want a gated moated setting, they could have leased a big cruise ship in a loving setting near Hawaii or elsewhere.  Or entirely taken over a small island or small nation.  I think the very point is demonstrating that "the city" is one of the pendents on the keychains of the globalist powers, and not a local/regional entity owned by "the people" as citizen inhabitants.  Normal processes of Democracy and Republic rules don't apply wherever these exceptional globalists deign to show up.  

      This isn't anything like what Republicans vaunt as American Exceptionalism.  This is Globalist Elite Exceptionalism, one that determines even American citizens on American soil, daring to use their "rights" to assemble and petition government, can be treated as probable terrorists and subject to harsh, militarized monitoring, spying, punishing physical treatment, harsh detention, and lifelong targeting for pre-emptive police action after participation.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Sun May 27, 2012 at 09:31:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No way to know for sure... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...unless someone from on high leaks the discussions that went on, but I think your explanation is plausible.  And yes, we will be seeing more of these in the years to come. Oh joy.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Sun May 27, 2012 at 09:38:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think they didn't do too badly. They did go (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    overboard with cops but at least there were no major clashes. Black Bloc showed up but was surprisingly peaceful.

    •  Overboard is an understatement. (0+ / 0-)

      I went to a couple of very nice restaurants that weekend. The owners were complaining that there was no business, not less, but NONE. They rightly blamed Rahm.

      What made it worse is the most violent of the protesters turned out to be police plants. Is that what our society is coming to?

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Sun May 27, 2012 at 11:30:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Makes me glad I'm retired... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...and didn't have to show up for work at CDOT!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun May 27, 2012 at 09:25:06 AM PDT

  •  "Cow town image...." ???? (0+ / 0-)

    That's Kansas City not Chicago.
    I think this 'diary' is quite over-blown, and whether
    the bottom line financially for Chicago is plus or minus,
    the general western world impression was positive, if
    for no other reason than the East Coast has mainly
    hosted such international conclaves and it is time
    to spread them around the country.  Chicago was
    a good choice; if Mayor Rahm did not manage it
    as well as he might have, is that news or just
    more of the same for him? He's a slow learner;
    give him time.  Meanwhile, let's push for more
    such US/Intl. meetings in the Outback of the
    US:  St. Louis, Cincinnati, Nashville, Mpls-StP --
    and on and on.  Too many people think the
    East Coast is the civilized quarter of the US
    and the rest of us are cowboys or Babbitts.
    It is time to work on that image, Bobbo, so
    let's see if we can put a positive spin on your
    crabby complaints!

    •  A meeting of NATO war criminals? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sean X, tardis10, Funkygal

      I don't think anyone deserves to have the military arm of the global 1% in their town. Their very presence is an obscenity.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Sun May 27, 2012 at 02:40:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  About the term "Cowtown Image" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ginny in CO, Sean X, tardis10

        The term "cowtown image" was from the leading business publication in Northern Illinois, "Crain's Chicago Business".

        I agree with it though. Chicago is a financial center for agribiz and speculation on such things pork bellies and live cattle. We also used to have the Chicago stockyards and Polish-speaking cowboys who never rode a horse outside of the South Side.

        I'm not proud of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and its dealings however. Industrial agribiz by the likes of Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto, Con-Agra and the rest is an atrocity against the earth, its people and the creatures whom we share this planet with.

        "Don't believe everything you think."

        by BobboSphere on Sun May 27, 2012 at 02:55:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  RE sucks in my book NT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Obama, the change that leads to indefinite detention and the abrogation of the Constitution! Yes He Can!"

    by hangingchad on Sun May 27, 2012 at 04:06:40 PM PDT

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