Some of the Chicago protesters are saying that Boeing is a war machine that produces war machines. Boeing has 500 people in its Chicago headquarters. The offices were largely deserted Monday because it was among the companies that told workers to stay home. In a statement, protesters seized on that as a victory: "Our call to action shut down the Boeing war machine."
In Chicago this morning protesters began their march from Union Park over to Lake Street toward the military contractor's offices. More than two dozen Metra rail stations along a line that carries around 14,000 riders in from the southern suburbs on most weekdays will be closed, and stations and platforms patrolled by a larger contingent of law enforcement personnel and K-9 units. The Chicago Transit Authority will reroute 24 buses through the summit zone.
Today's series of permit-less marches (the only kind worth having) begins with Occupy Chicago. Later in the day, immigration activists will head toward the nearby town of Crete to protest the planned construction of an 800-bed detention facility for detaining people accused of being illegal immigrants.
Here are some direct and intriguing quotes from the Occupy Chicago website, with our emphasis added. "Occupy Chicago and members of the international Occupy Movement will hold a joyful, celebratory march and day-long rally at the Boeing company on May 21st in Chicago. We are hosting a victory party, complete with food, clowns, dancing and music after calls to protest the Boeing company on May 21st resulted in the company directing employees to stay home this Monday, effectively shutting themselves down. . . You can expect to see crowds of people from all walks of life dancing in the streets, listening to live music, and celebrating the power of anti-war voices outside the Boeing corporation tomorrow. When the people of the world said they would speak out against Boeing and the NATO war machine, their voices were heard, and Boeing shut itself down. We're excited to celebrate tomorrow." Sorry, but that doesn't sound all that dangerous, unless being happy is now against the law, which it isn't, even in Chicago.
But why all the brouhaha about Boeing all of a sudden? Why did those Iraqi war veterans yesterday give back their war medals in a move reminiscent of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War way back in 1971? What the Sam Hill is going on?
Vietnam War veteran Ron McSheffery said, "I'm in total support of stopping NATO and stopping the slaughter of innocent civilians. If we took the money we spent on bombs and put it into green energy, we wouldn't need to keep the sea lanes open" for oil transport.
Around the time of the nine-eleven attacks, Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago, in the process appropriating more than $60 million and decades of free rent from Illinois taxpayers. In 2010 Boeing made over $4.5 billion, yet in the past three years they have managed to avoid paying taxes. In 2010 they received a federal tax subsidy of $1.56 billion. This cost the State of Illinois $65 million in revenue, money which could have been used to serve an additional 16,000 Medicaid clients, provide Medicare Part B coverage to 13,000 seniors, provide 36 million meals to the hungry, or create 1,625 living wage jobs for the unemployed. Instead this money was given to Boeing in the form of corporate welfare by elected officials. To say that the NATO summit has been unpopular in Illinois is a bit of an understatement.
"The National Lawyers Guild deplores the charges against Occupy activists in the strongest degree," said Sarah Gelsomino with the NLG and the People's Law Office. "It's outrageous for the city to apply terrorism charges when it's the police who have been terrorizing activists and threatening their right to protest."
A popular chant in Chicago over the last couple days has been "What do we want? Peace. When do we want it? Yesterday. Get up, get down, there's revolution in this town."
Of course, what appears to be going on to some degree depends on whom you ask. If you ask the President or the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that organized the NATO G-8 summit, they'll tell you that "Leaders from around the world are gathering in Chicago for an important diplomatic summit hosted by President Barack Obama. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will hold meetings in Chicago from May 20-21, allowing the city to highlight its economic vitality, its arts and architecture, and its can-do spirit."
Over the weekend, demonstrators pissed off Chicago's bully-boy mayor, Rahm Emanuel, when a group of mental health advocates went door to door, asking Rahm's neighbors where they can find mental health care, seeing as the Mayor has closed the clinics that serve the mental health communities.
This is an unpleasant time for the coalition of corporatistas who converged on the most mid-western of all American cities. You had the Boeing brigade hoping to make plans for their next deluge of death machines now that the American presence in Afghanistan is apparently winding down. "Who will buy our bombs, our rocket launchers, our tanks and planes? Damn, doesn't anyone want to kill any more?"
Not to worry. The Russians will be certain to help out by reigniting the evil Taliban once Vladimir Putin's parasites plunge deeper into Afghan territory, restarting the whole mess from the era of Jimmy Carter. Am I just making this up? Well, let's ask. At the closing of the first day of the conference, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO is making "clear our long term partnership with the Afghan people beyond 2014." So, guess I'm not making it up.
Earlier this month, Barack Obama happily signed a strategic partnership agreement that would enable U.S. and NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to assist with security and counter-terrorism. But NATO nations indicated hesitation, as many in Europe - and in the United States - are tired of the war that has lasted more than ten years. In particular, recently-elected Francois Hollande reaffirmed that he will indeed withdraw his France's 3,400 troops by the end of 2012.
Meanwhile NATO is still coming to terms with the 72 civilians it killed last year in the Libyan Civil War, having come full circle from a blanket denial that it ever happened to now insisting that the attacks were all against “military targets.” NATO has come under enormous criticism for stonewalling the investigations into the deaths, and for refusing to provide any reason why they were bombing civilian neighborhoods, in some cases seemingly at random. Confidential reports showed that NATO often had no idea what they were bombing. Today’s comments don’t attempt to explain how blocks of civilian homes were “military targets,” but simply wave away the concern by declaring it as a fact, and then insisting that NATO “did everything possible to minimize risks to civilians.”
Human Rights Watch actually credited NATO for its efforts to “minimize” the number of civilians it killed in the attacks, but said that at some point NATO really ought to launch an actual investigation of the killings to explain how they happened. NATO has repeatedly refused to investigate the deaths.
In the meantime, remember that on May 30, 2012, we at PhilroPost will be celebrating the hot days of summer by featuring our very special Summer Reading Spectacular with reading recommendations from our highly informed and beautifully idiosyncratic readership.