More than 2,000 NATO and anti-war protestors gathered in Grant Park
Sunday before they took to the streets and descended on McCormick Place
where world leaders are meeting for the summit.
Protestors with various causes such as ending drone attacks and promoting women’s rights overseas held signs, chanted in megaphones and waved peace signs as a heavy police presence lined the park and the surrounding streets.
Members and supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union wore their signature red shirts and toted signs reading “jobs not war” and “occupy labor.”
One member of the group explained how the union’s cause fits in with the NATO protests.
“Were seeing the largest attack on working people in unions in my lifetime,” said Steven Ashby, professor of labor studies at the University of Illinois, who protested in solidarity with the union.
“We’ve see the biggest raise of income inequality in my lifetime, so I’m here -- not just protesting $700 billion a year wasted on two wars -- but on the need to put money into schools and education and to create living-wage jobs.”
At noon, at least a dozen speakers took the main stage to rally the crowd.
And peppered throughout the sea of people were orange-shirted organizers with the American Civil Liberties Union. They walked around the park looking for any infringements on protestors’ civil rights.
N’Dana Carter, spokeswoman with the Mental Health Movement in Chicago, told the crowd that public health is a right, and it’s time to take back the six city mental health clinics that were recently shutdown.
“Contact Obama and tell him that he needs to speak to Rahm Emanuel, because he sent Rahm Emanuel here to destroy health care for the poor,” Carter said.
“This is important to NATO, because everyday a solider somewhere is told to kill, and once they’ve committed that atrocity, they are damaged for life.”
Another speaker included Carlos Montes, a longtime Chicago anti-war and immigrant-rights activist and founder of the Brown Berets.
Montes, 64, is on trial in Los Angeles for allegedly lying on his fire-arm ownership papers and could potentially face up to five years behind bars. He said he believes he’s really on trial because of his outspoken opinions on war and immigration.
“I go on trial June 20, but despite that I am standing here now in solidarity with you,” Montes said. “I am here with you demanding justice.”
Zoe Sigman with the Occupy Chicago movement said people have asked her if it’s true that a Chicago Police Department truck ran over an activist Saturday night during a protest.
“What they should be asking, what they should be questioning is the ease with which police get away with terrorism,” Sigman said on stage. “As tempting as it is to direct my fury to the police, I keep struggling to remind myself that they were not independent agents acting with a personal vendetta. It is in the mayor and the president’s best interest to dissuade us from resisting the war machine.”
Sigman, who’s home was allegedly raided by the police Wednesday night, said that’s “the same sort of oppression, the same tactics that NATO uses to further agendas abroad.”
Earlier that day, Jennifer Karmin, a Chicago artist and activist, stood at the corner of Jackson Street and Columbus Boulevard with a sign around her neck that read “the human micropoem,” an idea adopted from the Occupy movement’s “human microphone.”
“The human micropoem is a poetic forum where groups of us get together to read poems, and everyone becomes a chorus to say the poem together,” she said.
The poem she, and others standing around her, recited at the congested street corner before marching to McCormick Place was about the haves and the have-nots in the world.
“It’s important that we show our resistance to corporate power and to show the dislike for what governments around the world are doing.”
Here's more from today's rally and march: