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Earlier in the week, The Blaze reported on how the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago, along with the myriad protests that are mounting against it, is impacting local businesses. From Secret Service mandating certain institutions within close proximity to the summit close outright, to possible drone-sightings in the gray skies above the Windy City suburbs, security measures are ramping up.
To this end, the sidewalks surrounding historic McCormick Place, where official summit business is slated to take place, is beginning to look more like Fort Knox as work crews have begun furiously assembling anti-scale fences (also mandated by Secret Service) around the perimeter. NBC Chicago reports that palettes of fencing also turned up near Grant Park.
Now, some of the city's most visually pleasing landmarks are ensconced in metal or plywood. It is difficult to imagine how this, combined with the fact that a number of business are closing down, boarded-up, or simply operating in "contingency mode," reinforces Mayor Rahm Enamel's vow that the "city would remain open for business" during the Summit.
"Just as I was riding my bike up here, I was like, 'Here we go. Here come the fences,'" South Loop resident Geomele Moya told NBC. "It makes me feel secure. It makes me feel the city has a plan. And I’m not intimidated by it (the fencing). I feel it’s a real exciting event for the city and they have a good idea of how to make sure things go smoothly."
Even salon owners do not feel safe from potential vandalism.
A company that provides plywood, BB Board Up, told the network that they have been "busy" all week boarding up clients' brick and mortar business all around the downtown area.
Aniko Salon and Spa in Chicago's South Loop business district is one of those businesses.
"We chose to shut down in the best interest of the safety of our guest and employees," said owner Sally Fernandez. "Maybe nothing will happen, and that would be terrific, but we just wanted to be cautious."
J.C. Restoration Inc. has also reportedly signed contracts with roughly 40 downtown buildings to board up windows that might prove tempting for protesters to smash.
"The commercial real estate community downtown is definitely fearful of what could happen" client advocate Mike Collins said in the interview.
NBC also reports that across the city, the presence of military and law enforcement can be felt. Thus far, three Air Force helicopters were spotted hovering the Chicago skies on Wednesday, while the U.S. Coast Guard are patrolling the lake to help secure the waters near McCormick Place.