Along with a rally held in Daley Plaza on Friday, they plan to march to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home Saturday. On Sunday, they will walk from Grant Park to the fringes of the convention center, where several veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan plan to give back some of their medals.
Representatives from Occupy Chicago — which has been coordinating the logistics for the week — say they’re hoping to seize the moment as global attention turns to the president’s home town.
Busloads of protesters began arriving Thursday from cities across the country. As many as 10,000 people could attend Sunday’s march for peace and economic equality, organizers say.
“With such a huge event like NATO, it’s the perfect forum to get our message out there,” said David Oloroso, 23, a retail clerk who has been with Occupy Chicago since it formed in September.
Thirteen protesters have been arrested in smaller actions leading up to Sunday’s big march, police said, including eight who were among a crowd that stormed President Obama’s reelection headquarters Monday.
Separately, 11 protesters were arrested after a raid on a house in the Bridgeport neighborhood Wednesday night, and their lawyers issued a news release disputing accounts that they had materials to make molotov cocktails, saying police had confiscated “brewing equipment.” The Associated Press reported Saturday that three of them had been charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and providing material support and that the men faced a bond hearing later in the day.
Six others were released Friday without charge, the AP said.
Large swaths of downtown will be closed to parking and traffic throughout the summit, and a no-fly-zone will be enforced overhead. High-profile delegates will be whisked through the streets in motorcades and dine on Great Lakes whitefish and Colorado lamb Sunday at a dinner hosted by Emanuel (D) at the Field Museum. (A plan to serve a French dessert called “The Bomb” was apparently nixed.)
Meanwhile, protesters will be taking public transit and eating rice and beans or veggie tacos.
Initially, the NATO summit and the meeting of the Group of Eight were supposed to be in Chicago. But in March, White House officials who feared a security meltdown moved the G-8 to the quieter confines of Camp David.
The Occupy movement declared victory and decided to continue the Chicago protest, taking up such wide-ranging concerns as the environment and the closure of local health clinics.