October 26, 2011
Chicago, IL – The Occupy Chicago movement and the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) came together 150 strong, Oct. 26, to defend the right to protest against war and corporate greed.
When the Chicago Police Department started mass arrests of people occupying Grant Park two weeks ago, cops remarked to those being arrested that this was practice for NATO and G8 in May 2012. After the second round of mass arrests in Chicago Oct. 22, the media were saying it, too.
Now Occupy Chicago has embraced the need to oppose NATO and the G8 when they come to town next year.
While Occupy Chicago has been dealing with over 300 arrests, CANG8 has faced verbal threats of mass arrests and FBI repression from Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, nine months before the NATO/G8 protests are to occur.
In response, on Oct. 26, the two groups together decided to occupy City Hall. The raucous crowd marched in at 2:00 p.m., picketing and chanting, “It’s called the First Amendment,” and “What do we want? Permits! When do want them? Now!”
The first chant supported the demand that all charges be dropped against the more than 300 arrested in the past two weeks. The second chant refers to the demand raised by anti-war organizers since July for a guarantee of their first amendment right to assemble and march against the generals, bankers and heads of state when the NATO/G8 summit occurs, May 15-22, 2012. CANG8 delivered letters and attempted to meet with the city, meeting with silence from the mayor’s office. Then, repeated calls to city officials in charge of the permitting process were met with a run-around and then, with continued silence.
The occupiers moved to the 5th floor outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office. Andy Thayer, speaking for CANG8, explained that organizers expectations are “for permits to take marchers to within ‘sight and sound’ of the NATO/G8 summit.” The immediate demands are for the mayor to publicly commit to giving permits to march to the venue of the summit; for Police Superintendent McCarthy to cease making threatening statements against NATO/G8 protesters; and to respond to the protesters within two weeks.
“The ball is in Emanuel’s court,” said Thayer, challenging the city to break with the stigma of repression which has haunted Chicago since the violent police attack on anti-war students during the Democratic Convention in 1968.
Joe Iosbaker of CANG8, and an anti-war activist whose home was raided by the FBI last year, spoke about breaking news that Northwestern University Law School was moving its graduation earlier by a week in May at the direction of the FBI and Chicago Police. Using the call and response known as “the people’s mic,” or “human microphone,” he said, “We all know the FBI lies. They are telling the law school to be afraid of us. I know personally that the FBI lies, because they raided my home last year based on lies.”
The protesters held the first and then the fifth floors for about one hour before ending their occupation, promising to return in two weeks if Emanuel doesn’t meet the demands.
“The G8 and the NATO military alliance are two of the institutions which bear some of the greatest responsibility for the wars and economic violence traumatizing millions of people around the world,” said Pat Hunt of CANG8. “Previous meetings of NATO and G8 in other cities have seen massive violations of civil rights by police, resulting in millions of dollars of successful lawsuits against the host city governments. As such, the city should forthrightly commit to upholding the First Amendment rights of protesters and rein in the verbal threats coming from police brass.”
“In addition to dropping the charges against Occupy Chicago participants, we will also be demanding that the city allow a permanent First Amendment encampment for the Occupy movement, just as many other major cities now do.”