Friday, January 27, 2012

Are 50,000 Protestors Coming to the G8/NATO Summits in Chicago?

The G8 and NATO summits are in Chicago this May.

As if that isn’t going to create enough chaos, Adbusters – the group who “founded” Occupy Wall Street – has issued a proclamation to all “redeemers, rebels and radicals.”  (Sounds sweet, doesn't it?)

In part, they had this to say:
On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month. With a bit of luck, we’ll pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.
I'm not sure who these 50,000 people are who are going to "flock" to Chicago, but I have one question for any of them:  Have they met Rahm Emanuel?  If they think he is going to let 50,000 people set up tents, kitchens, and barricades (peaceful or not) around the city, then I've got some beachfront property to sell them in Oklahoma.  Oh, and on top of that, Rahm has been pressing the city to increase fines on protestors during the G8 and NATO summits. It hasn't happened yet, but just wait. If there is one thing Rahm has made clear, it is that he will not put up with any bullshit from the Occupiers.  He's certainly not going to let them set up tent cities in Chicago.  He had them kicked out of Grant Park twice last fall, and after that they gave up.  Although they have shown up to yell and scream at him at City Hall occasionally since then, he's definitely kept them quiet.  They are such a nonissue in Chicago that I have to dig deep to find anything about what they are doing. 

Occupy Chicago has apparently rented a space in the middle of nowhere on the south side for around $5,000-6,000 a month, paid for by an anonymous benefactor.  The address to this place is nowhere to be found on the front page of their web site, even though it is where they are purportedly gathering for General Assemblies and teach-ins.  Nor are there any directions on how to get there.  You can see how well organized they are.  I would love to know who was dumb enough to sign the lease, and why on earth they decided against a storefront in the Loop, which would not only have been easier to get to, but would have potentially attracted more attention.  It gets better.  The place they are renting is in the same building as a guy they kicked out of the group because he made people feel "unsafe."  (People not feeling safe is a big issue in the various Occupations.)  Yes, out of all the vacant buildings in the entire city, they picked the one where this guy lived to set up their headquarters.  From the outside, the group appears to be in slight chaos.  People are fighting on the website about the cliques, leaders, anarchists, and radicals who are taking over.  There is suspicion over the finances.  Other people are trying to figure out how to get involved, much of the time to no response other than to "come on down!"  (They haven't grasped yet that not everyone wants to or can trek down to the south side every night for their General Assemblies.)  Other people want to know generally what is going on, usually to no response.  Even though they have a website, most seem to prefer the more private "Google Groups" to discuss the movement.  (Indeed, there is very little discussion at all that happens on the website, and very little updating.  Most posts go unanswered.  Even the official Twitter account doesn't relay much information.)   

The best part is that rumor has it Adbusters didn't even tell Occupy Chicago about the big May 1 announcement before they did it, even though they've got "Occupy Chicago" all over the announcement.  This has fueled worries inside Occupy Chicago that it will interfere with Occupy Chicago's "Chicago Spring" launch on April 1, which they planned back in October or so. 
But back to Adbusters.  Although Occupy Chicago repeatedly tries to remind people that they are "nonpartisan," and "nonviolent," the Adbuster's call to arms seems to call that into question:
And if they don’t listen … if they ignore us and put our demands on the back burner like they’ve done so many times before … then, with Gandhian ferocity, we’ll flashmob the streets, shut down stock exchanges, campuses, corporate headquarters and cities across the globe … we’ll make the price of doing business as usual too much to bear.
What a great idea.  (And the reference to Gandhi is precious.)  Let's shut down the stock exchanges, colleges, and businesses.  Let's flashmob the streets and annoy the 99%.  None of these things affect anyone's jobs, lives or money, do they?  I swear, four months along into this Occupy movement, and I still don't understand what the point of it is.  Are they all just going to protest and complain forever?  Why not actually try to get some candidates in to Congress who support their views?  I can't figure out what they expect to happen.  Do they think that the 40 or so people who generally show up at General Assemblies here in Chicago speak for the rest of us in the city?  Because they don't.  All I can see is that the Occupiers want to create chaos.  They seem to welcome it when the police have to do their jobs and rope them off or kick them out of places where they aren't supposed to be.  They also seem to all be under the delusion that the 1st Amendment has never been interpreted or limited by anyone, much less the Supreme Court. 

This is going to get interesting.  If they mess with my commute, I'm not going to be pleased.

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