Federal agents in "traveling swarms" and patrols will begin protecting federal buildings in the Loop next week in preparation of next month's NATO summit, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
According to the Sun-Times, the Federal Protective Service will begin "Operation Red Zone" on May 1, with law enforcement in "battle dress uniform" and non-lethal bean-bag weapons stationed downtown. The perimeter is bordered by Harrison Street, Adams Street, State Street, and Franklin Street.
The NATO summit will be held in McCormick Place on May 20 and 21, but police say protests could include the Loop.
Pedestrians will be able to enter the "red zone" freely, but access could be shut down in the event of "civil disobedience."
NATO Host Committee director Lori Healey told the Sun-Times the move was "a little bit distracting," and took her by surprise. “It’s common practice for the federal government to have protection around their own buildings. Everybody plans extensively…for lots of different events. This is just getting an undue amount of attention. I would guarantee you they do it for all sorts of events. It’s just that they decided to publicly release it.”
Healey also told the Sun-Times that the Secret Service will release their official perimeter next week.
After a meeting with Secret Service officials earlier this week, protesters and the ACLU of Illinois disclosed the security perimeter around McCormick Place, though the Secret Service denied it was their plan. According to the protesters and the ACLU, the perimeter will be bordered by 21st Street, 25th Street, Indiana Avenue, and Lake Michigan. East of Lake Shore Drive, the northern boundary will be McFetridge Drive.