Chicago’s downtown area is being secured on the assumption that it will become a riot zone. Why? The NATO meeting on May 20-21.
The Red Cross has made arrangements with local universities to convert their gymnasiums into shelter areas. Local churches have offered to serve as shelters. The local media have covered this.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has issued a warning to truckers to stay out of the city if possible. Large trucks will be blocked from the downtown area.
Note: every city needs daily trucks to replace goods on supermarket shelves.
The sheriff of Cook County is considering using the shuttered Joliet prison to house detained people. The prison has been shut down for a decade. I wonder: What will the cost be of getting this empty hulk back into operation?
Originally, the G-8 economic summit had been scheduled for Chicago on the same weekend. Without warning, the White House announced that the meeting will be moved up one day and out of the city. It will be held in Camp David, the President’s retreat.
The federal government has announced that it will create a “Red Zone” in the loop area in order to protect federal buildings. This will begin before the meeting begins.
This appeared in the Chicago Sun Times.
The image of federal agents on downtown streets far from McCormick Place — in battle gear, weapons slung — three weeks before the summit is certain to have a chilling effect on those who live and work in the Loop. It also calls into question Host Committee Executive Director Lori Healey’s oft-repeated message that Chicago will remain “open for business” during the summit.
On Thursday, Healey found herself in the difficult position of having to convince the public that a scary headline that blindsided even her is not an indication that the feds are bracing for weeks of trouble.
“A lot of us were surprised to read that. Obviously, the federal government doesn’t consult with the city when they do this. Everybody was unaware of this,” she said.
This degree of planning indicates fear on the part of the U.S. government. Whether these precautions will turn out to be necessary, we do not know. But it is clear that those at the top fear violent protests.
This sends a message: the Powers That Be see that they are increasingly on the defensive. There has been a shift of power, based on new communications technologies, that is creating new threats to the Establishment.
In 1968, the protestors at the Democrats’ national convention in Chicago turned violent. The U.S. government is making sure there will be no surprises later this month.