When the two-day summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization gets underway in Chicago on the 20th, we’ll be treated to a showcase of newly strengthened police powers in the form of Operation Red Zone.
The chilling expansion of the Obama administration’s vastly expanded police powers will meld with draconian measures implemented in January by Chicago Mayor — and former Obama Chief of Staff — Rahm Emanuel.
In addition to the new laws, plans are already in place for a mass evacuation of the city and the resurrection of a closed prison to house the anticipated massive arrests.
The goal: Reducing dissent to an irrelevancy by first containing it, then swooping in for mass arrests.
And beneath the obvious measures, we’re sure the National Security Agency and other agencies are busy intercepting communications and preparing target lists for arrests by the FBI, Secret Service, and the Chicago Police Department.
The NATO summit is certainly a legitimate protest target, given NATO’s increasing belligerence in the Islamic world and in that missile defense system the Obama administration has pushed on Europe — much to Russia’s outrage.
The meeting will also focus on NATO strategy in Afghanistan and, presumably, contingency plans for assaults on Iran and Syria.
Here’s an excerpt from the latest NATO propaganda piece:
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stressed the importance of this month’s Chicago Summit to the future of the Alliance and its mission in Afghanistan, in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on 4 May 2012.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen praised Germany’s steadfast support for the Alliance and its missions, notably in Afghanistan, Kosovo and off the coast of Somalia.
The Secretary General discussed the 20-21 May Chicago Summit agenda in his meeting with the Chancellor. He said that the Chicago Summit will be a crucial one for the Alliance. The Summit will have three main goals: Afghanistan, capabilities and partnerships.
“This will be a vital moment, as we set out how to keep NATO of the future as strong and successful as the NATO of the past,” said Mr. Fogh Rasmussen.
Add in the presence of a stellar cast of Western presidents, prime ministers, admirals, generals, and sundry other stars of the power elite, and you’ve got a very legitimate target of protest.
In a Thursday story, the Associated Press listed some of the movements expected at the protest. They include anti-war groups, organized labor, Occupy activists, civil rights advocates, environmentalists, immigrant and refugee advocates, and others we would loosely group together as social justice movements.
Go here for the full list.
And now it starts to get interesting.
Chicago evacuation planned for NATO summit?
First, a clip from CBS News 2 in Chicago:
From the CBS news story:
Are there plans in place for a mass evacuation of downtown in the event of riots on May 20-21? A Red Cross memo out of Milwaukee indicates that there is.
As for the Red Cross plan, CBS 2 News has obtained a copy of an e-mail sent to volunteers in the Milwaukee area.
It said the NATO summit “may create unrest or another national security incident. The American Red Cross in southeastern Wisconsin has been asked to place a number of shelters on standby in the event of evacuation of Chicago.”
According to a chapter spokesperson, the evacuation plan is not theirs alone.
“Our direction has come from the City of Chicago and the Secret Service,” she said.
Officials at Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication said the directive did not come from them.
The U.S. Secret Service did not return calls for comment.
Fox News in Chicago has posted a memo [PDF] sent to residents of the Liberty Tower Condominium Association on State Street urging them to find accommodations outside the city during the protest and warning that the Secret Service won’t announce train and bus service cancellations until right before the summit.
Black helicopters cruise the Chicago skies
Really, Black helicopters. Filled with guys with guns.
A video from Fox News aired last month shows a strange “routine military training exercise” over Chicago last month, featuring machine gun-armed troops flying in black Blackhawk helicopters below rooftop level through the city’s streets:
Throwing in the Fear Factor
The history of the 20th Century reveals countless examples of governments inciting fear of terrorism and alien invasion as justifications for massive repression.
The most notable example remains the Enabling Act, passed after the Reichstag Fire in Germany in 1933. By depicting the blaze as the act of a Soviet/Jewish conspiracy, Hitler got the folks who used to meet in the burned building to pass legislation granting him dictatorial powers. The next day, in an orgy of violence, Left parties and labor unions were smashed and their property confiscated, effectively destroying the two major bases of opposition. We all know the rest of the story.
By whipping up anti-Communist fears, starting in 1948 Republicans and their allies in the Southern Democrats were able to deny civil rights to American communists and cooperate with the media world in purging journalists, directors, actors, writers, and others from their jobs — including many whose sole crimes were refusing to turn snitch or invoking their constitutional rights. The law was used to purge labor unions and force even liberal Democrats to sign on to the purge.
What began in 1948 was vastly expanded in the wake of 9/11, following the same recipe Hitler followed. The only difference was in the choice of targets. The Jews, targets of those earlier purges in both countries, were now the good guys, while another Semitic people was selected for black hat role.
In that light, consider this from the New York Post, headlined “Chicago hospitals perform dirty bomb response drills ahead of NATO summit”:
Chicago’s suburban hospitals are preparing for a worst-case scenario during next month’s NATO summit.
At least 10 Chicago hospitals performed drills this week, including Evanston Hospital, simulating a radioactive dirty bomb explosion.
“We want to make sure that, as we’re getting close to the NATO Summit, that our staff are ready and trained and able to take care of our community,” NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Brigham Temple said.
The “victims” were volunteers from the US Navy’s Great Lakes training center.
They were posing as victims of a so-called “dirty bomb” that had exploded, leaving them with deadly radioactive cesium on their skin. Doctors and nurses would risk their own lives if they began treating the wounded before they are cleansed of radiation.
Temple said Wednesday’s dirty bomb scenario had been worked out in conjunction with the Secret Service and the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Operation Red Zone
That “Red Zone” phrase will be familiar to anyone who watched the documentary about police containment strategies for the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto that we posted on May Day.
Red Zone was the term used then by Canadian authorities to define areas where protests were excluded.
To enforce their police actions, the Canadian police relied on a dormant piece of legislation passed in 1939 as Canada entered World War II: The Public Works Protection Act, which hadn’t been enforced since the end of the war.
While Canadians already had a law enabling them to enforce draconian restrictions on citizens, the Obama administration lacked a comparable law.
Until this year, when Barack Obama signed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act — and note the similarity in title to the Canadian legislation
Slate writers Dahlia Lithwick and Raymond Vasvari looked at the law:
Simply put, the way the bill will “improve” public grounds is by moving all those unsightly protesters elsewhere. The law purports to update an old law, Section 1752 of Title 18 of the United States Code, that restricted areas around the president, vice president, or any others under the protection of the Secret Service. The original law was enacted in 1971 and amended in 2006. At first blush, the big change here is that while the old law made it a federal offense to “willfully and knowingly” enter a restricted space, now prosecutors need only show that you did it “knowingly”—that you knew the area was restricted, even if you didn’t know it was illegal to enter the space. This has been characterized in some quarters as a small technical change that hardly warrants an arched eyebrow, much less a protest.
But it’s important to understand what has changed since the original law was enacted in 1971, because it shows how much a tiny tweak to the intent requirement in a statute can impact the free speech of everyone.
For one thing, the law makes it easier for the government to criminalize protest. Period. It is a federal offense, punishable by up to 10 years in prison to protest anywhere the Secret Service might be guarding someone. For another, it’s almost impossible to predict what constitutes “disorderly or disruptive conduct” or what sorts of conduct authorities deem to “impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.”
Occupy Corporatism has a more outraged take on the legislation:
When Obama signed into law the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act, he gave the US government the power to:
- Restrict the ability of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, in essence completely abridging the right to free speech
- Identify and label any activities that threaten to undermine the State as ‘terrorist’ in nature
- Detain said terrorists indefinitely without charge or trial
- Deploy armed military personnel in a policing capacity on the streets of America
- Log, aggregate, red flag and act on any intelligence acquired through emails, phone calls, text messages or social networks
And Rahm Emanuel adds his own rules
The son of a terrorist best known for bombing buses, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proven himself a ruthless master of crushing dissent.
And now he’s all about stifling protest at the NATO summit, passing new restrictions designed to outlive this month’s gathering.
From Kristen Mack of the Chicago Tribune:
A City Hall rewrite to tighten rules for protesters at this spring’s gathering of international leaders in Chicago would also place permanent and little-publicized restrictions on all future demonstrations.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed the changes to the city’s parade ordinance in his December request to the City Council for expanded powers to deal with the NATO and G-8 summits, set to overlap between May 19-21. The mayor said his request for new spending authority and additional restrictions on public gatherings “is temporary and it’s just for the conference and it’s appropriate.”
But the mayor’s office now acknowledges the protest rules would be permanent. And a closer look at Emanuel’s proposals reveals a series of changes to arcane parade regulations that would be accompanied by a large boost in fines for violations — from the current $50 for some to a minimum $1,000 per violation.
Stiffening rules on typically fluid demonstrations will increase the likelihood of violations, giving police more opportunity to crack down and making it more costly for demonstrators, free speech advocates said.
“It’s clear the more stringent the provisions, the more numerous, the greater the difficulty in complying with those provisions,” said Harvey Grossman, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “It’s an unnecessary show of authority and something that will have very little meaning in terms of altering conduct.”
Conservative legal affairs writer Eugene Volokh, on the other hand, doesn’t think it’s a big deal.
Here’s a clip from RT’s The Alyona Show on Emanuel’s new measures:
Rahm’s Red Zone leaves red faces
You’d think Rahm, a politician who rose through the Chicago Democratic Party machine, would know the importance of selling the plan to key community groups before announcing his plans.
But you’d be wrong. Or maybe not, if you’d studied Rahm Emanuel’s arrogant style and past history.
From Chicago Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman on 26 April:
The head of Chicago’s NATO Host Committee said Thursday she was blindsided by the federal government’s decision to create a militarized “Red Zone” in the Loop to protect federal buildings in the run-up to the May 20-21 summit at McCormick Place.
The image of federal agents on downtown streets far from McCormick Place — in battle gear, weapons slung — three weeks before the summit is certain to have a chilling effect on those who live and work in the Loop. It also calls into question Host Committee Executive Director Lori Healey’s oft-repeated message that Chicago will remain “open for business” during the summit.
On Thursday, Healey found herself in the difficult position of having to convince the public that a scary headline that blindsided even her is not an indication that the feds are bracing for weeks of trouble.
“A lot of us were surprised to read that. Obviously, the federal government doesn’t consult with the city when they do this. Everybody was unaware of this,” she said.
Other faces, red with anger?
Relegated to out of sight, will the protesters be out of mind as well?
Rahm’s Red Zones are designed with the clear intent of allow NATO nabobs to natter away without ever having seen or heard the outrage of those gathered to protest their arrogance.
From the Associated Press:
Activists planning to protest this month’s NATO Summit say the U.S. Secret Service’s security plan leaves authorities room to put in place even heavier restrictions at the last moment.
Protest organizer Andy Thayer says protest groups are particularly upset they aren’t being allowed to get within sight of the summit venue. Thayer says protesters will be kept about three blocks away from the building within the sprawling complex where the leaders are meeting.
The Secret Service released the security plan Friday. The number of places closed to public access grows as it gets closer to the May 20-21 summit. The list includes major roads, museums and boating restrictions on Lake Michigan. Among roadways that will be shut down is a stretch of Lake Shore Drive near McCormick Place.
Then came the predictable propaganda
Having no interest whatever in placating the protestors, it behoove the Chicago machine to generate a palliative for those red-faced members of the business community.
So the very same folks who we red-faced days before were now the bearers of glad tidings, thanks to some unnamed benefactors.
From Don Babwin of the Associated Press:
The upcoming NATO Summit and related events will mean $128 million in revenue for Chicago and about $3 million in tax money, the leader of the city’s host committee said Monday.
Speaking at a gathering of community leaders, the executive director of the Chicago NATO Host Committee also said that more than $36 million has been raised in private donations that, when combined with $18 million in federal funding, is enough to ensure that city taxpayers won’t have to pay for the summit.
The cost has been a concern in the city since officials announced last year that the NATO Summit would be coming to Chicago, and Lori Healey’s comments on Monday reiterated assurances that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office has been making for months.
‘Write me a letter, and send it by mail. . .’
But not in care of the Birmingham jail [Leadbelly sings it here].
Protesters busted for Red Zone violations and the host of other charges that will invariably ensue may be finding themselves in a famous mothballed prison, dusted out and gussied up just for them.
The former abode of the late Chicago crime lord Sam “Momo” Giancana — who shared a lover with John Fitzgerald Kennedy — may become the temporary hope of NATO foes.
From Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times:
Mothballed for a decade, the Joliet Correctional Center could be temporarily reopened to serve as a detention facility for those arrested for serious offenses during the May 20-21 NATO summit.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says his first choice was to use Division 3 at Cook County Jail before the once-empty division had to be filled with detainees over the last two months.
A less desirable alternative was to put up tents in the yard at Cook County Jail.
But, Dart said the solution that makes the most sense is Joliet, the hulk of a prison facility mothballed in 2002.
“They shut down Joliet prison. It’s sitting there empty. Could I turn the key and open it up? Does the water still work? Does the electricity work? If that’s a question, I might just look at the yard and whether to put up tents with some cots and utilize that setting at Joliet,” Dart said.
Red Zones announced
AP’s Don Babwin reports on some of the places declared off-limits during the summit:
Roadways, parking lots and some of Chicago’s top tourist attractions will close when world leaders come to the city later this month for the NATO Summit.
The U.S. Secret Service on Friday released what it calls its Security Restrictions and Transportation Plan for the May 20-21 summit, outlining a host of regulations for an area that stretches from O’Hare International Airport to downtown.
The plan calls for intermittent road closures on the Kennedy Expressway, the main thoroughfare that connects the airport to downtown, between May 19 and May 21 to accommodate the motorcades of world leaders attending the summit.
Stretches of Lake Shore Drive near McCormick Place, the site of the summit, will shut down starting that Saturday. Just north of McCormick Place at what is called the Museum Campus, three of the city’s top tourist attractions – the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum – will be closed that Sunday. No one will be allowed to even walk around the picturesque area on the shores of Lake Michigan.
The bean bag brigade deploys
Battle-ready federal agents are patrolling Chicago streets.
From the Chicagoist, a 26 April announcement:
Federal law enforcement dressed for battle and equipped with “non lethal” bean bag guns will begin patrolling the streets of the loop next week in the lead up to the NATO summit. Dubbed “Operation Red Zone,” the Federal Protective Service will head up the operation and create a security perimeter as a show of force, the Sun-Times reports. The “red zone” extends from Harrison to Adams, between State Street and Franklin. While officers will patrol the area in battle gear, Cleophas Bradley, deputy regional director with the FPS told the Sun-Times “we will not be preventing anyone from entering the area.”
. . .In the event of actions containing civil disobedience, the FPS will reportedly shut down the entire “red zone” temporarily until order is restored.
Area businesses, including Bank of America and the Berghoff Restaurant were also told to give vendor lists to law enforcement officials and keep their cameras in working order, particularly ones nearby Federal Buildings. Jeff Cramer of Kroll, Inc told the Sun-Times that FPS has “…their work cut out for them. There are a fair amount of federal targets for protesters to make a point with if they wanted.”
And to close. . .
We strongly urge you to watch Into the Fire, the documentary we posted on May Day.
We suspect much of what you’ll see there will be replicated in Chicago. What worked well in Toronto will work well in Chicago, especially considering all the new toys available to our newly militarized police, local and federal.