The City of Chicago is preparing to deal with the fallout from a "week without Capitalism," and, apparently, potential riots. As the NATO Summit approaches on May 20th, protesters have already begun ratcheting up their demonstrations across the city. In preparation, Chicago Police and Illinois State Troopers are out in force with the help of other agencies from as far away as Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C. In total, at least 3,100 police are ready and waiting. Likewise, businesses across the Windy City are either shutting or hunkering down -- and even if their reasons are purely logistical, it could still be construed as an acquiescence to Occupiers' demands for a Capitalism-free week.
Storming Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago...in the name of Catholicism?
On Monday, under the banner of the "Catholic Workers" movement, at least 100 demonstrators occupied the lobby of President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters. According to its website, the Catholic Workers are "grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person," as well as the principles of "non-violence." What's more, all 213 of the Catholic Worker communities believe in achieving "hospitality for the homeless" through their "commitment to poverty." If that last line sounded confusing, well, that's because it is.
Those protesting at Obama's campaign headquarters said members of Catholic Worker communities from at least 10 states gathered for a retreat, and that Monday's demonstration was meant to launch their "Week Without Capitalism" campaign and push for “nonviolent resistance to the corporate G8/NATO agenda.”Jerica Arents, of the White Rose Catholic Workers, told the Chicago Tribune that some of the demonstrators had come from across the Midwest and would be joining NATO protests all week. She then reaffirmed her group's commitment to pacifism before blasting NATO for consuming the world's resources."We see NATO as using up a lot of resources in the city and the world," she said.
What was meant to be a peaceful demonstration, however -- complete with the handing out of rolls with which to "break bread" -- ended as it typically does with members of far left movements: in handcuffs. In total, eight protesters were arrested. They were cheered by other activists who showed their solidarity by dancing around Obama's headquarters and singing gospel and folk songs. As the apprehended were led to a police van, yet another horde of protesters began chanting: "Ain't going to Study War No More."
According to the Tribune, the Catholic Workers and other activists held a moment of silence for the arrested outside yet another office building. After they had reconnoitered, one demonstrator began strumming an acoustic guitar and the group started singing "Let There Be Peace On Earth" as they marched down Randolph Street toward the an "El" stop.
Occupy vows to proceed without permit
Aside from the Catholic Workers, members of the Occupy movement are also making their presence in Chicago known -- this time at a press conference in a rundown building in Chinatown. Occupy Chicago leader Rachael Perrotta boldly delcared that even though the City requires demonstrators to obtain a permit in order to protest, her group refuses to do so because the first amendment is their permit.
"It's our right to walk down any street," Perotta said. “We’re bringing in people from all over the country, so expect huge crowds and huge crowds will happen.”
To illustrate the Occupiers' thought-process in greater detail, consider the following clip of yet another press conference held by organizers. Attendees included members of: Occupy Chicago, the People's Summit, the Coalition Against G8/NATO War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8), National Nurses United (NNU), Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), the Mental Health Movement, Network for NATO Free Future, Chicago Indymedia, and the Barefoot Summit.The man speaking in the video vowed that if anything were to happen to the protesters during the summit it "would be on Obama."
Another four arrests on Tuesday
Since the Occupiers' plans are far from secret, it should come as no surprise that an additional four protesters were arrested on Tuesday after yet another demonstration outside a Chicago federal immigration court went wrong.
The demonstration, organized by Occupy Chicago and yet another religious-institution -- Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission -- was one of several smaller protests scheduled to be held throughout the city this week.
The Associated Press reports that about 30 people walked from the mission at 3442 W. 26th St. to 525 W. Van Buren St., an office tower that houses federal offices and an immigration court.
The crowd chanted, “The people united will never be divided,” when they arrived, joining roughly 50 other protesters who had been waiting for them to arrive.
Out of the dozens who demonstrated, two immigrant rights activists were arrested after refusing to budge from the building entrance. Moments later, Occupy Chicago protesters attempted to block traffic, resulting in at least two additional arrests.
One of the catch-phrases circulating the Occu-sphere this week is that, "no human is illegal."
A "week without Capitalism"
The Occupiers' goals in their anti-NATO demonstrations are confusing to say the least. At first, they claim to be protesting world powers and the "wars" said powers allegedly perpetrate. Then, they protest homelessness through vowing to remain poor themselves. Later, they protest Barack Obama's campaign headquarters with the help of a Catholic Workers' movement. Soon after, they are protesting an immigration court, boldly declaring that "no human is illegal." But ultimately, amidst all of these other agendas, Occupiers' greatest purported desire is really to facilitate a "Week Without Capitalism." And it's likely that as their arrests continue to mount, fearful Chicago businesses could make their wish come true.
Across the city, companies ranging in size from two to 2,000-plus employees are either planning to shut down or are operating strict contingency plans over the next week.“We stand to benefit a little if things go well, but we could get a black eye if they don’t,” said Alan Sanderson, an economist at the University of Chicago.
A study commissioned by Deloitte consulting claimed the NATO summit could generate the City$128.2 million -- mainly via hotel revenues -- but Sanderson pointed out that that figure did not account for the fact that were it not for NATO-goers, those same hotels would be occupied by tourists. Other events also throw a wrench in the works when it comes to NATO's "money-making" potential. The city announced last week that major thoroughfares like Lake Shore Drive, parts of Interstate 55, and a number of roads near McCormick Place will shut down. Chicago Metra service also announced it will cancel 11 trains on Monday, May 21.
Tourists, too, will be in for a rude awakening as the city's landmark institutions, including the Field Museum, Art Institute, Children's Museum, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium will all be closed over the weekend (and some into Monday).The move flies in the face of Mayor Rahm Emanuel' vow that the city would "stay open for business" during the summit and is likely to stun Chicagoans and visitors alike as weekends in the city, especially during Springtime, are some of the most highly-trafficked days of the season.But there may be more to the string of shut-downs than meets the eye.When asked what prompted the Shedd Aquarium to decide to close, spokesperson Andrea Smalec told The Blaze that since her institution is situated within close proximity to the NATO Summit, Secret Service in fact required the Shedd Aquarium to close on at least the Monday of the event.
Smalec did not seem to mind however, as she believes that ultimately, the NATO Summit will raise the profile of the city and will generate more business in the longrun.
But there are inklings that the situation could escalate. Thus far, 22 Starbucks in Chicago's Loop are planning to reinforce their windows with thick plastic, while other brick and mortar businesses are keeping enough plywood on hand with which to board up windows in the event vandals take to the streets.
ChicagoFirst, a non-profit organization whose members include financial institutions, is helping its businesses that plan to stay open during the summit, build contingency plans. ChicagoFirst managing director Brian Tishuk told The Blaze that while he doesn't expect to encounter any violence, a few "bad apples" can always find their way into the larger group of demonstrators and pose a problem. Still, "one has to be prepared to continue business," he said.
Tishuk also noted that thus far, the turnout among protesters seems smaller than expected, but it may yet be too early in the week to tell what the actual turnout will be. Regardless, businesses are increasing security, establishing shelters and evacuation routes for employees, and will be prepared to lockdown buildings if the situation proves necessary.
Another key, according to Tishuk, is communication. Given that 10,000 delegates and journalists alone will be attending the summit, disruption could be inevitable with or without protesters. When asked if any of his member-businesses were affected during other Occupy demonstrations, particularly on May Day, Tishuk said that aside from sit-ins held at local bank branches, his businesses have remained largely unscathed. Safety for employees is the greatest concern among companies presently.
Other employers are holding fast as well, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, which plans to remain open but will allow employees the option to work remotely given disrupted rail service and closed roadways.
"We want to make sure the level of service our customers are accustomed to remains unaffected," Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesman Greg Thompson told The Blaze.
CBRE Inc., which manages a downtown Chicago office building told tenants via email that their employees should refrain from wearing suits or carrying bags and paraphernalia with corporate logos, and instead, "look like a protester." The email was obtained by Crain's.
Mark Anderson, director of security for the Chicago-based property management firm, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., said it is not making tenants' dress codes a point of emphasis.
"Some of the tenants have discussed it," Mr. Anderson said. "It really comes down to their comfort level. There's no data out there to substantiate somebody being targeted or hassled because of their affiliation with their firm or their occupation."
Bill Donohue, leader of the Catholic League, breaks it down
Joining Glenn Beck on Tuesday evening to discuss the absurdity of the Catholic Workers' organization -- given that it is more Communist than Catholic -- was president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue.
He discussed Workers-founder Dorthoy Day and the true nature of her politics. According to Donohue, Day believed that people should rely on themselves, not the government, to resolve problems of the day. Beck and Donohue noted that while she is frequently propped-up as a hero of the uber-left, Day was in fact against the New Deal and much of what today's left stands for.
Donohue quipped that she "must be turning over in her grave" to see the disorganized nihilists that comprise the Occupy movement. "They sing dance and take over buildings," he added, "they are a disgrace."
Below, Donohue slams the "ragtag" group of brats who only seek to destroy, despite the "Catholic label" they slap on themselves.