NATO demonstration organizations hold press conference

By Contributing Writer

By Daniel Gerzina

Speakers representing many NATO protests spoke May 10 at a previewing press conference at protest headquarters on 500 W. Cermak Road. Spokespersons from Occupy Chicago, organizers of The People’s Summit, Iraq Veterans Against the War and CANG8, among others, outlined their organizations’ protest plans surrounding the NATO Summit.

Speakers explained their grievances with NATO and local policies, including global violence and oppression, First Amendment violations, environmental issues and government funds used for national defense rather than to fix economic problems and social programs.

Zoe Sigman, spokesperson for Occupy Chicago, announced that Occupy will attempt to shut down aerospace and defense corporation The Boeing Company, 100 N. Riverside Plaza, on May 21, the final day of the summit.

Sigman said Boeing builds border walls and war planes and causes extensive environmental damage through vast fossil fuel consumption. She also said the city hands Boeing tax cuts, and partly blames city officials for the damage.

“Boeing is a corporate war criminal who profits off of violence on a mass scale,” Sigman said. “The people of the world will confront Boeing, holding it accountable for the crimes they have committed.”

Aaron Hughes, a spokesman for IVAW, said his organization will march from Petrillo Music Shell, 235 S. Columbus Drive, to Michigan Ave. and Cermak Road where they will return their military medals. They say this is not to protest, but to help servicemen begin to emotionally heal from war. They also called for a complete military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“[We] demand justice and [that] the military acknowledge that a wronging has occurred,” said Hughes. “We live with that wrong every single day.”

The People’s Summit will take place May 12 and 13 at 500 W. Cermak Road and will feature a variety of speakers as well as over 40 workshops on poverty, racism, health care, worker’s rights and women’s liberation. The event is free and open to anyone.

“The People’s Summit is an opportunity to engage in education, democracy, and debate that are deeply missing from our political system,” said Jesse McAdoo, spokesman for The People’s Summit. “[We] will discuss the future of the 99 percent, a future that values health care and education for all instead of war and warfare for the 1 percent.”

Nine speakers gathered in the Occupy Chicago headquarters, a warehouse on 500 W. Cermak Road—which also houses a U-Haul station—to divulge plans to the media. A new culture-based event, The Barefoot Summit, is planned for the weekend of the NATO Summit.

Spokesman David Meyers introduced the Barefoot Festival, a non-violent festival highlighting Chicago culture.

“[The Barefoot Summit] is basically a love letter from the people of Chicago to the world,” Meyers said. “It’s a showcase of all the best that Chicago has to offer, in terms of music, culture, youth culture, and a lot of other things.”

Sigman questioned why Mayor Rahm Emanuel and World Business Chicago brought NATO to Chicago at all. She said she thinks funds spent holding the summit and catering to wealthy politicians and visitors would be better used to support needy local communities, schools, and fighting home foreclosures.

“NATO is a symptom of the violence and oppression at the hands of the 1 percent,” Sigman said. “It has no regard for the human and environmental consequences of its actions…actions designed to further the 1 percent’s continual dominance of the world.”

Many more events are not listed publicly, but the Occupy Chicago NATO Press Kit is updated daily. For more information visit www.tinyurl.com/natopresskit.

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