Chicago, Chicago-my kinda town, especially when it is NATO-time!
Some thoughts about being in Chicago while the NATO summit was going on. First of all, the Chicago police, state troopers, paramedics and fire department were amazingly prepared for this weekend. They also must have had very good intelligence about where the possible hot spots would be. They sealed off a lot of streets, and that meant that no mobs could possibly get through a wall of police and/or police vehicles blocking the entrances.
It was hard for some people to get into the city on Friday, but we didn't have any problem. On Saturday, while out walking in the afternoon we did see the protestors. The mob was followed from above by 2 police helicopters, and in front of them was a veritable platoon of police officers on bikes and foot. It was a tremendous show of force. They clearly learned the lessons of how badly security was handled in Toronto for the G20 and were determined that nothing was going to get out of hand.
I was walking with the family in the late afternoon on Michigan Avenue when we heard the sirens and then we realized that the mob was heading our way. The police literally lined the streets, so that there was no way that the gangster protestors would be able to bash any windows or assault people along the way. Also, many businesses had what looked to me like extra, private security in front just for the weekend-very tough and serious looking dudes.
(Note-although the Chicago police were in full force-MANY of them are ridiculously overweight, they actually look clinically obese. Not good. There don't appear to be any weight/height or fitness regulations for them.)
Anyway, then the mob came through and tourists and families backed away from the street.
About the protestors: a damned fugly bunch of yahoos.
Lots of angry people. Blech.
One of their brilliant slogans was: "You don't need your boss, your boss needs you." I am not sure exactly what that meant, but it seems a pretty sure-fire way to get fired. That is, if ANY of them had jobs (doubtful).
Then, another slogan was: 1, 2 ,3, 4 I'm gonna start a class war.
Now, in my estimate, there could not have been more than about 300-400 moron protestors on Saturday afternoon heading down Michigan Avenue. And I think it was at that moment that we heard an ambulance come by-and I think that was when a protestor was injured by a police van? Possibly. If that was the case-then there was certainly no police van barreling into the crowd.
There were stragglers behind the main crowd. Maybe they were wandering in and out of the crowd? I am not sure.
But the main group was very unimpressive.
Chicago otherwise is a grand city-I like it a lot. Grand, that is the best word for it. I know about the corruption and the South Side and the other crappy stuff. But it's got a lot of dynamism and I love that Midwestern charm. I like it more every time I go-and I've been about five or six times for different reasons.
There were a lot of young professionals, young families all about. The women were nicely dressed and not obese like in a lot of other parts of the country (although we were downtown-I imagine the suburbs are different). The main were also pretty fit and dressed preppy-ish for the most part.
Too many tattoos though on too many people. Are people THAT bored? I guess.
We loved it. Love the "Bean", Millenium Park, the Hancock observatory, the water, the Navy Pier-the works.
More posting as I catch up.