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(en) US, Chicago, MEDIA: More Police than Protesters?

From Dan Clore <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Sat, 9 Nov 2002 06:18:18 -0500 (EST)


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BY FRANK MAIN, ANNIE SWEENEY AND DAVE NEWBART STAFF
REPORTERS 

Chicago police outnumbered demonstrators Thursday at a
peaceful but noisy march through the Loop to protest a
meeting of international business leaders.

The motley collection of demonstrators included labor union
members, human rights activists and self-described
anarchists hoisting signs bearing slogans ranging from "Feed
the Children" to "I Am Here to Meet Chicks."

Police estimated the crowd at about 800 people, while
protest organizers put the number of marchers at 2,000. The
actual number of demonstrators appeared to be somewhere in
between. At least 1,200 officers wearing riot gear were
posted along the route.

The protesters gathered outside Boeing Co. headquarters at
Washington and Canal and marched down Washington to
Michigan, where they headed north to Tribune Tower. A
barricade prevented them from marching the final few blocks
to the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, where 350
corporate CEOs and government officials from the United
States and Europe were meeting in the TransAtlantic Business
Dialogue that wraps up today.

Only two arrests were reported: one man who appeared to grab
the reins of a police horse and another who allegedly
tampered with a traffic light.

No one was injured, police said, and there were no reports
of violence or vandalism.

The crowd was mostly young, like Jose Ramirez, 20, of
Chicago, who came to protest "corporate greed and
consumption." But there were some older marchers, too, like
Roger Kapfhammer, 59, who explained, "I'm left over from the
Vietnam War." Moises Zavala, an organizer with the United
Food and Commercial Workers International Union, marched to
protest Wal-Mart for not paying a "livable wage," he said.

As the marchers chanted "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, George Bush Has
Got to Go," commuters stood along the route with expressions
ranging from bemused to confused. Some protesters yelled to
office workers watching from high-rises, "Come out of your
corporate cages."

Organizers emphasized a peaceful tone. "Hear me now," Sarita
Gupta, one of the organizers, told the crowd. "Everyone here
has agreed to be nonviolent and peaceful."

Cmdr. Dave Dougherty, in charge of policing the march,
credited Gupta for the calm result.

Many of the demonstrators snapped photos and shot videotape
of police--and officers zigzagged through the crowd taking
pictures of demonstrators. The department also beamed
videotaped images of demonstrators back to headquarters for
analysis, officials said.

Inside the Sheraton, James Wolfensohn, president of the
World Bank, which protesters complain is heavy-handed with
its lending practices, said the marchers "don't know what
the hell they are talking about."

As the protesters marched toward the Sheraton and news
helicopters buzzed overhead, the conference participants
boarded buses to the Field Museum for dinner.

Thursday night, First Deputy Supt. John Thomas responded to
a question about whether the large police presence was
"overkill."

"Our position is simply that I don't think you can
overprepare. I think the cost of freedom of speech, the cost
of the safety and integrity of our city, is priceless."

Contributing: Ana Mendieta 

Motley crew makes its point 

BY BRYAN SMITH STAFF REPORTER 

Outlined against block after block of truncheon-wielding
cops, who stood on sidewalks glaring from under helmet
shields like gladiators in their black body armor, the
ragged band of about 15 self-proclaimed anarchists looked
woebegone as they emerged from the Washington Street Blue
Line stop.

One wore a white "Lone Ranger"-style mask. Another had
pulled on a black wig over his mohawk. Another carried
cardboard doughnuts the group had made to mock the police.
Another buried himself deep in his hood, his face covered
with a bandanna mask.

They wore beat-up sneakers and ripped jeans and nose rings
and "Food, Not Bombs" patches sewn into the backside of
their pants. They were all young, in their late teens and
early 20s.

They made their way downtown on a subway train, ignoring the
looks of gawkers. They gazed in wonder at the sheer number
of blue- and gold-helmeted officers gripping long batons
that greeted them when they emerged from the station.

Still, they were defiant as they passed the columns, even
when jeered by officers who said things like, "Welcome to
Chicago, guys," and, "See you on your way back." And when
the hundreds of marchers already gathered began to move,
they slid their way to the front, holding a banner
protesting the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue--an economic
summit meeting here through today.

They had started at their headquarters on Milwaukee Avenue,
smoking cigarettes out front and talking about the best way
to survive tear gas (four coffee filters stacked.)

"I'm just hoping they don't use it on us," said Chris, the
one with the wig, who asked that his last name not be used.

He needn't have worried. A couple of people were dragged out
of the line of marchers, quickly and without violence. A
skittish horse accidentally knocked into a protester. Other
than that, the anarchists and the hundreds of others who
gathered got to make their messages heard: down with
corporate greed; food, not bombs; war against Iraq is bad.

By the time they reached the Tribune plaza, they were still
going strong, despite the long day and the long trip they
faced back on the Blue Line.

For all the worries about clashes with police, the telling
moment of the day seemed to come not at the march, but well
before, when the anarchists were standing outside their
headquarters. A scooter riding by had slipped on some road
grease, throwing its rider, who stood up with a bloody
scrape on his head.

Within moments, the members had called 911 and brought out a
first aid kit. By coincidence, a police car following the
scooter also stopped to help. The anarchists and police
worked together to calm the man down and help with his
wounds.

Then they each went their separate ways toward downtown.

-- 
Dan Clore


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