About 100 antiwar protesters wiil be climbing on buses in Minneapolis on Saturday night and heading to Chicago to participate in a large march on Sunday to express opposition to NATO which is holding a summit meeting there next week. Chicago authorities say the demonstrations in the coming week could be massive and police are girding up for what they say could be major confrontations.
Local protesters say they plan to participate in a peaceful, legal march, for which parade permits have been obtained, Thousands of demonstratiors are expected to descend on Chicago from the midwest and the east coast. "Chicago police, who have a reputation for dealing toughly with protesters, will be prepared for the worst," Reuters reports.
Representatives from 50 countries and many world leaders are expected to attend the NATO summit.
Sarah Martin, a member of the board of Women Against Military Madness in Minneapolis, said the local buses are sponsored by her group and the locally based Anti-War Committee. "Many other people are driving themselves," said Coleen Rowley, the former FBI agent and whistleblower, who became active in the antiwar movement after her retirement. Rowley will be one of the speakers at a Friday news conference to talk about about the participation of Twin Cities activists in the Chicago protest.
There is some talk among law enforcement authorities that demonstrations in Chicago could become a repeat of the1999 protest in Seattle in which there were major confrontations during demonstrations over an international meeting of the World Trade Organization.
Martin, however, said local protesters going by bus are not intending to get arrested. They will climb aboard buses at 10 p.m. on Saturday at St. Joan of Arc Church in Minneapolis and then get back on the buses for their return trip at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, she said.
Martin said the purpose of the demonstration is “to voice our opposition to NATO, the war in Afghanistan, the bombing in Libya and talk of the missile shield” in Europe. Asked about President Obama’s announced plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, Martin said, “We want to make sure they get out sooner rather than later.” Rowley said NATO should been disbanded when the Cold War ended. She contends it went from "a defensive alliance to wars of aggression," such as the NATO intervention in Libya.
Not everyone is pleased by the protesters' plans. "Protesters, anarchists, rogues, and dunces will descend on Chicago from all over the globe this week," writes Peter Bella, a retired Chicago police officer, in the Washington Times. "They will create mayhem, consternation and enormous inconvenience in celebration of the NATO summit that will be held here this weekend."