NATO? No problem
05/23/2012 10:00 PM
After all the stress and consternation leading up to the NATO summit, we’ve finally made it through.
That wasn’t that bad, now was it?
We had a few noisy protestors who made their way through the South and West Loop (and even a little bit of East Pilsen), but none caused any harm to passive bystanders. In fact, we saw locals all up and down the streets of Michigan Avenue watching the parade march by on Sunday, May 20.
One man named Jim Kooney, a resident of 1515 S. Michigan Ave., stood in front of his building with a garden hose. On a sweltering hot day, he just wanted to help people out, and he grinned with delight as he filled up water bottles of protestors. The joy was contagious.
“We do this during the marathon, too,” he said. “I’m just trying to be a good neighbor. Everybody’s appreciative.”
Yes, there was trouble later on, and a good amount of it. The clash between police and protestors at Cermak Road and Michigan Avenue was disturbing to witness, and shouldn’t have happened.
Two factors were at play there: A police force that insisted upon clearing out the intersection soon after the events were over, and group of protestors who wouldn’t leave and decided they wanted to push through the line of police officers to get to McCormick Place.
Both are reprehensible. There was no need for the police to clear out the intersection so quickly, particularly after letting the protestors wander around aimlessly in the streets for hours and hours on end over the rest of the weekend. Why it was necessary to move everyone out of Cermak and Michigan so quickly after the biggest event of the weekend is unclear, and it was borderline foolish.
However, we simply don’t understand why the group of agitating protestors decided they wanted to stay and even rush the convention center. Maybe it was hardheadedness. Maybe it was the desire for martyrdom. Perhaps they harbored dreams of rushing into McCormick Place and giving their message to President Obama personally.
Probably, though, it was just the idiotic desire to fight the police.
A lesson for life: If several thousand police officers ask you nicely to leave somewhere, it’s probably in your best interest to do it. And you definitely shouldn’t throw things at them.
Over the rest of the weekend, police performed admirably with the protestors, though, and should be commended for that. Letting the protestors move throughout downtown at will was the best possible tactic for defusing tensions. Well done.