One year of planning came down to just hours. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, President Barack Obama, and Chicago were on the world’s stage this weekend.
There were fears that 50,000 protesters were going to take the streets of the city. Businesses closed. Storefronts boarded up. One journalist was even spotted wearing a bulletproof vest—perhaps a bit overkill.
Busloads of protesters came from all around the country representing different ideologies—environmentalism, socialism, and the most feared: anarchism. But what actually happened at the CANG8 rally at Butler Field and the subsequent march to the intersection of Cermak and Michigan? What was the mood of the protesters early in the day? How were the Chicago Police responding to the protesters?
Some Chicago Tonight staffers went out in the swarm and provided play-by-play accounts of what was happening in the Loop. The four 20-somethings made their way into the city on Sunday, May 20 at 9:00 am. They later met up with Chicago Tonight correspondent, Paris Schutz. Their experiences are documented below. Please pardon some of the typos—this was done on cell phones.
The tweets tapered off once the confrontation began. About 15 minutes before the standoff began, people in the crowd wearing all black were seen putting earplugs in their ears. They were preparing for the possibility the Chicago Police Department would use a sound cannon or LRAD (long-range acoustic device.)
Police in riot gear stood along guard rails as protesters were guided west on Cermak. It took about 25 minutes to navigate the congested rat maze. But one high-profile marcher had an accelerated exit: Rev. Jesse Jackson. He was the only person I saw allowed to exit through the police barrier.
Check out our extensive slideshow from the protests in Chicago Tonight's Web-Exclusive: NATO Protests in PHOTOS.