First big NATO weekend rally goes off without hitch
National Nurses United gathers roughly 2,500 people in Daley Plaza
05/18/2012 5:31 PM
The first big protest rally of this weekend’s NATO summit went off without a hitch Friday, with a calm crowd that seemed almost bored at times.
Held by the National Nurses United, the rally featured hundreds of union members in red T-shirts and green felt hats with red feathers — a symbol of the 0.5 percent “Robin Hood” tax they want added to all stock transactions over $100.
The rally kicked off around noon at Daley Plaza next to the Picasso sculpture, as members from the nurses union decried the G8 leaders’ decision to ditch Chicago for Maryland’s secluded Camp David.
“They ran away because the scary nurses were coming,” National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnnDeMoro said to the crowd. “Well, the community knows who they can trust and it’s the nurses, not the politicians.”
The group put on a mock G8 summit depicting the leaders at a casino, where each of the member countries’ leaders lost money to the house — Wall Street. But the skit fell flat with poor acting, and the crowd seemed to tune out the performance.
But the crowd riled up when Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello took the stage. The city had originally tried to move the rally’s location after Morello was added to the schedule, saying that a nationally known musician would bring more people to the plaza than could be accommodated.
The city ultimately relented, under condition that the rally was only two hours instead of five and didn’t include a march, but they still gave Morello good material to rouse the crowd with.
“They said ‘You can have your march. You can have your rally. All you have to do is kick Tom Morello off the bill,’” Morello said. “How ridiculous for the mayor’s office to think that I would do something that work hurt Chicago, or encourage people do something that would hurt Chicago.”
The crowd in Daley Plaza was about 2,500 strong at times, according to the NATO host committee’s security consultant Hillard Heintze. When the rally ended shortly before 2 p.m., several groups of protestors fanned out around downtown, marching down streets with police escorts.
Police reported two arrests this afternoon. One man was arrested for disorderly conduct near Daley Plaza, and another was arrested for aggravated battery to a police officer near Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. ABC 7 footage showed a protestor being detained by police on the Michigan Avenue Bridge after pulling down a NATO banner.
Members of the National Nurses United union rallied roughly 2,500 protestors in downtown Chicago's Daley Plaza Friday afternoon, May 18 to protest the NATO and G8.
Photos by JOEL MEYERSON/Contributor