In perusing the online papers, the concern about the NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21 is palpable in every word. It sticks to the sweaty skin like newspaper ink. The anxiety and fear is obvious across all strata of society. Chicago police are already threatening violence against Occupy protesters, as documented in this audio footage of a traffic stop. Anti-protester fear mongering rhetoric abounds in the media. A Crain’s Chicago Business article reported that downtown workers have been recommended to doff their suits and ties in order to avoid becoming targets of protester violence. The same article reported that several downtown banks will shut down leading up to and during the NATO summit. ABC reports that downtown windows are being covered with shatterproof film, high-rise balconies will be closed, entrances locked, and tenants warned to utilize constant vigilance when living their lives during May 20-21. And all the way in Indiana, my daughter’s grandmother abruptly stopped our light-hearted conversation to gravely remind me that with NATO almost here, I am to be so careful with my body and brain, ie: not in the streets. It’s not that she’s afraid of NATO or the cops, but those other people.
The media has succeeded in painting protesters as terrorists, and neatly avoided the actual focus of our rage: NATO. NATO is our reason to fight.
But why? Why all of the NATO-hate? What is it about NATO that draws protesters in from across the world to stand in the streets and voice their dissent about this coalition?
- NATO functions as a military wing for most of the governments of the G8 — the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada. G8 member Russia — not so much. NATO actions in Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan, in particular, parallel the historic economic and imperial interests of the Western elites who run NATO governments.
- NATO is not a defensive group. It is a global intervention power – and its intervention is selective. NATO ‘intervened’ in Libya, where multinational oil companies are now hustling to take over Libya’s vast oil resources and the ‘rebels’ we backed are gutting human rights, including womens’ rights.
- Unelected representatives from 28 countries decide where to focus the might of the NATO military machine. NATO claims to operate through consensus, but the people of the countries that make up NATO have no say in the decision making process.
- NATO only represents 28 countries in third world, yet makes military plans that effect the entire world, without giving the remaining 168 countries any say.
- NATO is fine with US drone attacks in Yemen, which support one of the region’s most ruthless dictatorships, and the U.S. and NATO turn a blind eye to the brutality of the Bahraini dictatorship, essentially aiding and abetting these governments’ suppression of protest movements against corruption and dictatorship.
- Peace cannot be brought through the barrel of a gun or the explosion of bombs. NATO responds to threats and uprisings by bringing more violence and unstable regime changes to global conflicts.
- The NATO treaty says an attack on one member country will be responded to by all countries who have signed the treaty, up to and including military force, giving NATO the role of policing the world.
- Currently, Turkey may call for NATO action over conflicts at its border with Syria. Under NATO rules, the US may be obligated to respond with military intervention.
- NATO is the embodiment of death and chaos, trying to create harmony through destruction. Bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity.
(Credit to NATO: Just why are people protesting? A resource for civilian journalists, streamers and activists by Chris Geovanis and Rachael Perrotta.)
In order to peacefully and educationally combat the complicated reasons of understanding who NATO is and what it does, blogger Joe Scarry created the Twitter trend #NATOin5, where the complex reasons for opposing NATO are distilled to a few words.
@d_r_ford: bombing away all independent states
@d_r_ford: hegemony in the Middle East
@RKNJL: Bombing for your freedom… Freedom?
@Protestation: destruction torture slaughter extermination genocide
@Mikenreich: They Kill People For Profit
Aside from wreaking havoc worldwide, they disrupt and ruin US lives as well. Locally, the Chicago NATO summit has an estimated cost of $65 million. While Mayor 1% Emanuel is trying to cover the costs with private donations, the taxpayer may be stuck footing the bill. This money should be used to fund Chicago services, including schools and clinics. Rahm has shuttered six out of 12 mental health clinics, which is currently a rallying cry against austerity formed by STOP Chicago’s Mental Health Movement. The Mental Health Movement, supported by Occupy Chicago, and anti-NATO protesters is currently holding 24-hour encampments at both Woodlawn Clinic, 6337 S Woodlawn and Northwest Mental Health Clinic at 2354 N Milwaukee in protest. In addition to slashing the veins of mental health patients, the head of CPS Board, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, and education executioner for Rahm, has scheduled seven schools to be closed, and 10 schools to be “turned around.” Turned around is a euphemism for firing all staff at a failing school. Schools to be closed include Guggenheim, Price, Lathrop and Reed elementary schools, plus Best Practice, Dyette and Crane Tech high schools. Schools rubber-stamped for turnaround include Casals, Fuller, Herzl, Marquette, Piccolo, Stagg, Wendell Smith and Woodson South elementary schools, plus Chicago Vocational and Tilden high schools.
Mayor 1% is ignoring his Chicago constituents who entrusted him with the position of protecting their best interests. No citizen wants the millions of taxpayer dollars misspent militarizing with chemical weapons, armor, and bludgeoning tools to be used smashing the bodies of peaceful protesters speaking out against NATO, one of the greatest mechanisms for wreaking death and war in countries too powerless to stop them.
We the people of Chicago are joining forces with our brothers and sisters from across the world to stand against NATO. We recognize that due to the sensitive nature of the protest, the fear-mongering and anti-activist rhetoric, plus the increase in police intimidation, violence, and militarization, arrests are a distinct possibility. Therefore, Occupy Chicago has coordinated a preemptive bail fund for those who are arrested protesting the NATO war machine. While Occupy Chicago embraces nonviolence, it is a tangible concern that some demonstrators will be detained. Everyone can help the anti-NATO actions by supporting the Chicago Bail Fund by donating at https://www.wepay.com/donations/143498
In keeping with Occupy Chicago’s dedication to nonviolence, it has orchestrated The People’s Summit, demonstrating to the public what a summit should be: an inclusive, free, public, educational workshops whose goals are to enlighten, enrich, and empower. The People’s Summit will be held at 500 W Cermak, starting at 10 am Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13. Workshops, lectures, panel discussions, questions and answer sessions, and tabling center on war, austerity, global capitalism, and corporatization in the 21st century, and what it means for the ways we live in this world. Topics can range from the increasing cost of a loaf of bread in Chicago to the 1.4 billion people worldwide living in immiseration; from the ‘war on terror’ and global homeland security industries to increased militarization of domestic policing; from global wage depression and the creation of disposable labor reserves to devastating climate change, destruction of environments, and the privatization of common resources. The People’s Summit seeks to highlight interconnections within struggles and movement, to radicalize and conjoin groups laboring for a better world.
Together, the people are unstoppable. Join the fight for restructuring society into one that ends war, austerity, hypercapitalism and corporate hegemony while supporting education, empowerment, human services, environment, immigration rights, and community.