CHICAGO, May 22, 2012— After a weekend of various protests and direct actions against the NATO conference, Occupy Chicago and other groups had one last major protest on Monday. This protest was against Boeing and President Obama. They shut down parts of down town Chicago (the Loop) during the early afternoon. This protest had no permit, but was allowed by the City of Chicago.
The protesters began with a 9AM assembly and rally at Union Park, on the Near West side. At 11AM they started to March toward Boeing’s corporate headquarters, just over a mile east, on the edge of downtown. The march was angry, festive, and street theatric.
When the marchers reached Boeing, they held a rally accusing Boeing of various heinous activities. Some protesters portrayed drones, buzzing through the crowd. Others portrayed dead bodies; symbolic of all the war deaths the protesters accuse Boeing of being responsible for.
Though the protest was peaceful, the rhetoric was vulgar, obscene, profane, and full of accusations against the police for causing violence and torture. One speaker unleashed an obscene tirade against the media for portraying the protesters in violent and criminal terms.
The protesters then moved on into the Loop. When they reached City Hall, they held a sit down rally in the intersection. They denigrated Mayor Rahm Emanuel as Mayor the mayor of the 1%. Speakers decried his closing of mental health clinics, cut backs in libraries, school cutbacks, and other fiscal “crimes”.
They moved on through the Loop to Chase bank. Again, they held a sit down rally, closing the intersection. Conveniently a Bank of America branch was across the street. They criticized the banking industry, accusing them of various fiscal crimes.
The protesters kept moving through the Loop until they reached Michigan Avenue. Once again, they held a sit down. They eventually moved on to the Prudential Building, where Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters is located.
This was the main event. The protesters hate the president as much as, or more, than “the criminal Bush” and his administration. The president was referred to several times as Barry Sotero, a name he was known as in his youth and a name the far right wing tin foil hats refer to him as.
They do not thank or hold the Bush administration responsible for the Occupy Movement. They give President Obama credit for their cause. They claim, “without his lies and obfuscation of the truth we would have no Occupy”. “It is the “lies of Barack Obama is why we’re here.” Speakers went so far as to claim Obama was not elected to change anything. He was chosen by the powers that be- who ever they are- to fix and maintain the system.
They also sent a message to MoveOn.org. and Van Jones. They do not want to be co-opted by their organizations. “We will not be co-opted.” They demand liberals who enable this “ criminal administration” get on the right side of history
If this movement gets real legs, the left wing progressives and the Democrats may have a real problem on their hands. Earlier I talked with a Tea Party leader from California, Nadine Hayes. She claimed that the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party are in agreement on many issues, though their methods differ. She was attending the morning rally and marched with the protesters. She was welcomed and accepted by them.
Speakers claimed to have worked for Obama in 2008. They expressed their regret and disgust with the president:
“Barry Sotero tricked is in 2008. He will not trick us in 2012. We’re going to change that.”
“Barack Obama you broke my heart, you broke our hearts.”
“I am ashamed of him.”
“Shame on you Barack Obama.”
“Barack Obama, Barry Sotero, has been worse than the Bush administration for persecuting whistle blowers.”
The protesters also demanded the release of Bradley Manning, the Army PFC accused of providing classified information to Wikileaks.
Chicago Police were out in force with assistance from the Illinois State Police. There was also a visiting contingent from the Charlotte, North Carolina Police on hand. The Democratic Convention will be held in Charlotte in August.
Unlike Sunday, when protesters clashed with police, sometimes violently, this protest was peaceful. Like Sunday, Chicago Superintendent of Police Garry McCarthy marched and walked with his men, talking, encouraging, and thanking them.
There was a large media presence. At times it was impossible for them not to video and take pictures of each other.
The video is a compilation of clips taken during the march and rallies. Unlike other protests, this one moved much faster and the media scrum was tight and jostling, which is why the video is shaky at times.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone. Mr. Bella is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.
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