On May 20 and 21, NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – will be meeting in Chicago. NATO was born during the Cold War, but has outlasted its original mission of countering the Soviet Union and has spread far beyond the nations of the North Atlantic. Leaders from nations as far flung as New Zealand will be attending this month’s meeting of the militaristic alliance.
Other guests, not invited by NATO, will also be meeting – out in the streets. Large numbers of people belonging to the Occupy Movement will be in Chicago protesting against NATO.
Why protest NATO? The reasons range from killing by NATO military drones to massive military spending. NatoProtest.org provides a long list of reasons Americans are upset with NATO.
Actually, Occupy activist projects associated with the upcoming NATO summit have already begun. Yesterday, Dr. Cornel West gave a lecture criticizing Barack Obama’s rather un-liberal policies at the University of Chicago. Tonight, there’s a training session in methods of nonviolent activism at DePaul University, and a meeting going over Occupy movement building ideas. Tomorrow, there’s another meeting organizing housing and food for all the Occupy activists coming to town.
This weekend, the The People’s Summit will be held by Occupy activists. This summit has a rather different purpose than the NATO summit: “To educate our communities about war, austerity, global capitalism, and corporatization in the 21st century, and what it means for the ways we live in this world.”
If you want to participate in the anti-NATO protests in Chicago, but don’t live in Chicago, 99% Solidarity can help. The organization is putting together free bus rides for Occupy activists from many cities to Chicago especially for this month’s protests. Non-violent activist training will be held on the buses en route.
Unfortunately, the right wing Democratic mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is also planning. Mayor Emanuel has created a long list of new restrictions designed to confine and confound protesters, including the requirement that protest organizers pay large amounts of money to the city of Chicago in exchange for permission to protest. What’s more, although Emanuel initially promised that the restrictions on protest would only be temporary, lifted after the NATO summit, he has since reversed this promise, and declared that the anti-protest measures will now be permanent.