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#noNATO | Occupied Stories - Part 2

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An Anarchist’s Odyssey to Chicago: Part 2

Editors note: This is a three part series. Check out part one, part two and see all our stories from the #noNATO actions here.

Sunday May 20th 2012

We woke up around 9am the next morning and six of us met with three to four dozen other student protestors from CACHE  (Coalition Against Corporate Higher Education) at Jackson and La Salle and we marched strong and loud through the streets to the rally at Grant Park with a giant black ball with 1,000,000,000,000 written on it in order to represent the sum of our collective debt to society in exchange for insolently daring to become smarter.  The rally at Grant Park was enormous, I wandered around sending pictures of giant puppets to our own Secrete People’s Puppet Lair in NYC.  Speakers from activist groups from the area and from all over the world were speaking.  Lines to the water stations and kitchen were huge given the heat.  I finally caught up with Nicole and John and met Rachel face to face for the first time during a meeting mostly of OWS folk from New York who were talking tactical before the march.

We caught up to the front of the march together and we popped a few of the party poppers we had been sneaking past cops.  We stopped popping them off during a march after one of the Veterans at the front asked us to stop out of respect for the Post Traumatic Stress many of them had incurred.  I didn’t pop anymore until after someone else in the crowd of 70,000 people on that march popped theirs after listening to those veterans denounce the war on terror with words about dead children, mothers and fathers, sexual assaults, post traumatic disorders, suicides, oil, lies and shame before throwing their medals away one by one.

It was a heavy ritual and I felt a need to get out of the crowd and get hydrated as quickly as possible once it had ended.  We worked our way out of the crowd west from the march and saw huge lines of heavily black armored riot police brandishing clubs, moving in the direction we had just come given that the rally was scheduled to end at 4pm.  Nicole, John and myself heard reports the police where using Long-range acoustic sound cannons on black block protestors while we were guzzling Gatorade in order to replenish electrolytes and avoid heat exhaustion.

We weren’t quite sure where we should go after we finished eating some food, but we found Lucas, Emmillio, Vanessa, Christina, Stephanie, and more and more with every block we walked until we eventually wound up on Michigan Ave.  We collectively decided to begin chanting around the time 25 of us had started heading toward congress and Michigan together.  The sidewalks on Michigan avenue were still large enough to accommodate us at that point, but we were obliged to take Michigan Ave. once our impromptu march had snowballed into over 50.  We were greeted by hundreds of occupiers who had been under the statues on Congress and Michigan. I popped the last two party poppers I had brought with me as we tore ass down congress and began marching wildly through the car filled streets of downtown Chicago.

I shared looks of amazement, wonder and happiness, words of disbelief and reassurance and congratulatory embraces with Lucas, Nicole, John, Vanessa, Emillio and others.  We had begun our march as a handful, watched grow into hundreds and felt the fragile distinction between making something happen and being a part of the thing that happened to be happening completely disappear in the process.  It was exhilarating, empowering and liberating.  I kept running into friends on the march.  I ran into @missarahnicole a live tweeter I met through Tim and Tim himself who was confirmed that he was as exhausted as he looked after his raid much earlier that morning.  He picked up a small scarf-sized red and black anarcho-syndicalism flag someone had dropped in the streets.  I’m not sure why he picked it up given that he handed it right off to me since he didn’t want anyone potentially using it to attribute any ideological leaning toward himself.  I took the flag and tied it to my pandeiro which I’d been playing to the bone of my right thumb on every march, not that I thought Tim’s concerns were terribly salient.

The march seemed to be going anywhere and everywhere.  Lucas had some juice left in his phone and found out as had a few others that NATO leaders where gathered at the Art Institute on Michigan Ave.  I was at the head of the march with Julian and others though I didn’t recognize trying to steer it in that direction.  I looked officers in the eye and told them that it was nothing personal but we had to protest the scum they were protecting and that we should all go drink cold beer together like civilized people after finishing up for the evening; some of them rolled eyes, others winked with respect.

The head of the march kept moving south on Michigan past the Art Institute.  A large portion of the march including John and Nicole had stayed at the Art Institute and I wish I had as well.  We wound up hanging a right down Jackson I believe, then  began marching up Wabash when a group of police shielded up in a circle behind their bicycles which they used to push protestors away after a cop fell or they took a protestor down, I couldn’t quite tell.  I had been walking backwards along with the march away from the Greek Phalanx-like formation of Bike cops when the heavily black armored riot police quickly and eagerly swarmed in around them shoving protestors away with heavily notched wooden batons.

I was smiling and playing my pandeiro when a riot cop looked me directly in the eye.  I watched his lips mouth ‘mother fucker’ as he advanced on me.  I turned and ran in the direction I had already been moving without even thinking to bother about getting his badge info or evidence with my phone.  I ran fast, but all avenues of escape were blocked by the backs of other fleeing protestors which was all I could see as I felt my head rattle beneath three strikes from the riot cop’s baton on top of my head.  I felt another blow glance off my leg as I managed to get around the other protestors.  It definitely hurt a bit in spite of the adrenaline coursing through me.  I took my black fedora off and felt for damage with my right hand.  My finger slipped inside my head just a little bit and my hand came away covered in blood which was running down my bare neck, back and chest.  Thankfully I had already taken off my shirt from the heat and drizzling humidity which was mingling with my sweat.  I had spent five years training to respond to trauma such as this as a lifeguard and I realized that I was still conscious, mobile, not to mention still rational given that I was yelling for a medic fully aware that I had no way of safely knowing on my own weather or not chunks of skull might puncture my brain later that evening.

Shon, Becca and Captain got to me.  They told the cameras to get back but I said it was ok for them to shoot and film.  The medics took control and Becca said she could see large cut and bruise but no fractures when she checked and palpated the wound after she checked my vitals.  She told me I should still get a CT scan even though she didn’t suspect any serious lasting head trauma.  She and Shon bandaged me up and told me to go to a hospital for stitches.  They went back into the fray and Captain walked with myself and person or two with cameras who interviewed me while walked in the direction of Northwestern Hospital.

Captain got pissed off when a group of cops in khakis told us we couldn’t continue walking north up State Street.  One of them cringed at the bandage on my head and the blood drying on my bare neck, chest and back and said he was sorry about it but that we couldn’t pass.  Captain asked him how the hell he was supposed to get me to the hospital.  One of the cops said he’d get us an ambulance which I doubt they would’ve paid for but they suddenly received orders to leave the intersection.  They marched off and we continued towards the hospital a few more blocks.

I smoked some more of my cigar, Captain said it would help thin the blood and staunch the flow a bit more.  I occasionally said hi to a few gawkers on the street while I used what little power I had left in my phone to text to my friends and get a few status updates out.  I decided we should hail a cab rather than continue to wonder around looking for a bus.  Captain and another guy with us ran ahead and found a cab while I pulled a shirt over the dried blood covering my torso.  We were only about $8 dollars away from the hospital.  Captain and his company took off in the cab back toward the action while I checked myself into the emergency room.

I was prepared for a long wait but the waiting room was virtually empty except for another protestor who’d apparently been injured before me but the nurses and docs were ready to examine me before I even had a chance to use the restroom.  They let me use their phone to call the number I had for the Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild as well as the number of another Lawyer whose card I had been given right after the medics checked me out.  A nurse wheeled me into a room for a CT scan and back into the ER.  Two cops from a different division came in to talk to me.  One of them asked if I’d been hit with a stick like the one he had begun holding over and if I knew which end I’d been hit with after I told them what happened.  He put it away as we got down to the seemingly more crucial questions from their POV about what I had been doing to deserve the whacks and more importantly how I felt about police in general rather than what had actually just happened.

I told them both that I thought that the majority of cops were just people who had it almost as bad as we did and who were doing a shitty, thankless job, but that there were clearly a minority of sadists who enjoyed the brutality.  One of them said that what I had said was absolutely true.  I told them I thought the sadistic officers tended to be the higher ranking ones as well.  The other cop told me it was all about connections and he started talking about some corrupt local politician who’s staff consisted of 80% illegal immigrant labor as if that was more important than anything I had been protesting and also as if we were on the same side.  They didn’t have anything to say about my incident and didn’t have any advice to give as to what I should do about contacting lawyers or police reports.

A nurse came in and cleaned the gash on my head with cold water and hydrogen peroxide, she talked about some other “cool” things she had seen including a guy who had turned his scalp into a toupee from a motorcycle accident.  Another nurse came in to make copies of my health insurance card.  Another guy in scrubs gave me a quick shot of tetanus vaccine in my arm after she finished and left.  Another guy in a white coat who had been some sort of bio chemical engineer before working in the ER asked me why I was out there as he began numbing the wounded area on my head before stapling it back together.  I’m never sure where to begin whenever anyone asks me that question but he wanted to know what I was hoping to achieve out of this, he asked me…after I told him I thought the conversation was interesting and that I didn’t mind having it while he stapled my scalp back together…what my one demand would’ve been.

I told him I was glad we never made demands, forgot about the whole occupation on Europa thing, and told him I thought marijuana legalization could change society the fastest by ending the drug wars with Mexico, lead to reform in prisons and law enforcement, help ease the pain of all sorts of medical maladies while simultaneously cutting into the profits of a corrupt pharmaceutical industry, put America’s economy back to work by producing all sorts of things out of industrial grade hemp including bio-diesel fuels thereby also addressing the climate crisis.  He snickered when I told him I believed that smoking pot would literally solve all of our problems, but disagreed that bio-diesel produced from hemp would help lower greenhouse temperatures since it was still a combustible.  He went on to talk about how he thought rapid revolutionary changes typically caused more problems than they solved and that he thought revolutions were best when more gradual.

Naturally I asked him for medicinal marijuana for my headache after he finished the conversation and putting the staples into the star-shaped gash in my head.  He reminded me that it wasn’t yet legal in Illinois and gave me some paper work instead before I left the hospital.  I caught a cab back to my host’s place on the north side.  My phone had regained a bit of juice and I texted my host and Lucas who told me they would be out doing jail support for a while longer.

I was locked out of the place we were staying, basically ok but too exhausted, covered in blood, and a bit chilly.  I began to brood mean thoughts as I sat on the porch waiting for my friends to return.  I knew that I could either sit on that porch and let that moment turn into another reason for me to hate the world along with everyone in it or I could go to a bar and try to talk to women.  I wisely opted for the later, figuring that the blood would serve as a good a reason as any for someone to listen to a genuinely crazy story.

The bartender at a place a few blocks away asked me what happened after he took my order and put the first pint of beer in front of me. A woman who happened to be listening to my story did in fact invite me to join her and her friends who were playing cards and pool in the back.  I told her I’d come hang out after I finished my burger and a conversation with another local guy who worked at a coffee shop around the area.  He swung by the pool game I’d started with the girls in back to buy me a shot and shake my hand.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude to find that a plastic bag with a bit of “medicine” for my headache had magically appeared seemingly by magic into the palm of my hand.  I bought him a shot, and started to finish up my game with the girls since Lucas and our hosts had returned.  We all needed to quickly debrief and get some rest.  It was all good though because I think the blood and the story was all a bit too serious for them to take once we started hanging.  The only guy who was hanging with them wanted to play devil’s advocate about why I was protesting NATO not that he didn’t support the protests, but I was in no mood to talk about it.  The whole reason I had gone out to socialize was precisely to stop thinking about it.

The game soon ended and I sent my friend from the local coffee shop a friend request on Facebook before I got back to James’ place and filled everyone in on my ordeal.  Lucas told me I had missed some good moments while I was in the hospital.  Protestors had identified an undercover cop and started shouting “cop, cop, cop” at him until he was escorted out of the march by medics trying to look as if he didn’t know what the crowd was talking about and also as if he wasn’t afraid.  I had also missed a mass dance party and group hug in the rain in front of the Art Institute after the march had ended.

-Harrison Schultz-

Editors note: This is a three part series. Check out part onepart two and see all our stories from the #noNATO actions here.

Posted in #noNATO, StoriesComments (0)

An Anarchist’s Odyssey to Chicago: Part 1

Editors note: This is a three part series. Check out part two. part three and see all our stories from the #noNATO actions here.

Brooklyn, New York

Lucas texted me on May 2nd asking if I was going to the NATO Protests in Chicago.  I figured that getting on the road and out of the city for a while would help me clear my head, regardless of the fact that I was to be caravanning with an anarchic hoard of “openly hostile peace freaks,” as H.S. Thompson might’ve described us: resolved on exposing to the masses the realities of war and its consequences for our society’s economic well-being, and probably the latest advances and trends in state-sanctioned police sadism in the process.  It was two birds with one stone with a vacation to Chicago included, so I told Lucas I was down for a road trip into the dark heart of homegrown American Oppression the very next day.

 

Chicago, IL

Friday May 18th 2012

The ride itself on Thursday was uneventful and prolonged due to the lack of internet as well as the frequent stops we took.  I called Rachel, a librarian from the Occupy Chicago Library.  I got in touch with her through my friends from Occupied Stories.  She told me that several live streamers had been preemptively arrested and given various charges of terrorism for having been discovered with equipment for brewing beer, that there were drones in the air, snipers on the buildings, but also that Rohm Emmanuel didn’t want any déjà vu of the Democrat convention of ‘68 since he wants to become president, which was the whole reason why he wanted NATO as well as the rescheduled G8 in Chicago in the first place.  Unsettling as all of this was, it was all still far more expected than Rachel’s news that the Sears Tower had been renamed to Willis Tower since my last visit to Chicago.

We rallied with dozens of other protestors at the intersection of Jackson and La Salle.  I was in a bathroom at a nearby McDonald’s when the march left.  I saw a woman in plain clothes who had been mingling with us walk over to a group of plainclothes police wearing guns and badges, and saw her take off a worn, long sleeve top revealing a badge chained around her neck.  She told the others that we were headed for the rally at Daley Plaza as if they weren’t already aware of where we were going.  I caught up to Lucas at the front of the march, launched off two confetti poppers and started to play a rhythm on my tambourine while we chanted.  I saw a masked protestor dressed in black bloc attire pop off one of my party poppers after I had returned to the march, after throwing out the ones I had just used into a public trash can.  I told him he didn’t ask before he took it.  He lied and told me my friends had said it was OK for him to do so as he handed the tube back to me, as if it was my job to throw it away for him as I walked away from him to catch up to my friends, who almost always can be found at the head of the march.

The Nurse’s Union Rally was pleasant.  We aimlessly mingled with lots of friends from New York who stuck out from all of the nurses dressed in identical red t-shirts with red-feathered, green Robin Hood caps in support of the Robin Hood Tax they were lobbying to place on all Wall Street transactions to pay for things such as healthcare.  I tweeted a few photos to friends back in NYC.  The rally was of course surrounded by Chicago Police, and even well attended by undercover members of their fraternity.  I became curious and started looking at badges when a high ranking officer of some sort in a white shirt asked me what the tubes sticking out of the top of my backpack were.  I probably could’ve avoided talking to him altogether had he not caught me checking out his badge, but I assured him that they were party poppers and not fireworks, just like it said they were on the tube’s red and yellow wrapping paper.  He told me that they weren’t safe, since all of the people at the rally might become startled by them.  He told me I had to get rid of them.  I held out the wrapper of a granola bar that had been given to me, said I had been looking for a trash can but couldn’t find one, probably because the police removed all of them.  He told me that he’d dispose of the party poppers for me, but I told him I’d be perfectly happy to do so myself or just return them to my room.  I walked out of the vicinity of the rally, threw away the granola bar wrapper once I found a trash can, took the party poppers out of my backpack and carried them back into the rally well below eye level of the police, in the blue opaque plastic bags I had bought them in, from the dollar store two blocks from my apartment in Brooklyn.

I grabbed some salad and beans provided from the kitchen when Tom Morello, The Night Watchman who emerged from the ashes of Rage Against the Machine, took the stage to support the union rally just as I saw him do at the May Day Rally in Union Square in NYC.  He was every bit as inspiring as he had been when he’d played at Liberty Plaza/Zuccotti Park the fall of the past year.  I fired off the last of the two party poppers I had brought with me after he had told everyone in the crowd, including the undercover police, to jump the fuck up as he played the censored verses of Woody Guthrie’s original version of “This Land Is Your Land.”  No one near me made a move to arrest me, and one of the nurses suggested that I should just leave the empty tubes on the ground and walk off.  I took her advice.  I found Mikey a moment later. He told me he figured I launched the confetti as we caught up with Lucas and Emillio at the front of the un-permitted march of occupiers, while all of the Union Nurses in red left the permitted rally at Daley plaza on buses.

The march was energetic.  There were so many of us that we had no trouble occupying the streets anywhere we went.  We headed east toward Lake Michigan at some point. I was thrilled at the prospect of marching toward the waters I had grown up in in my hometown of Milwaukee, WI, and possibly shutting down the city of Chicago by occupying a major intersection on Lake Shore Drive in the process of doing so, but alas the Chicago PD had set up a blockade and we marched north through a park and began a loop through the city ultimately back towards Jackson and La Salle.

A former soldier in the Army turned bare-chested protestor had climbed up some ledges on the side of a wall to tear down a banner for the NATO summit, which declared the organization’s goals of world peace.  He tore half the banner apart and was greeted by a swarm of Chicago Police who tried to arrest him after he bolted from the ledge he had been standing upon.  But he kept moving. The police nearly grabbed him, but he was dragged away and un-arrested from the Chicago PD by fellow protestors.  I hadn’t even realized I had been walking alongside him after several dozen of us left a police kettle on a bridge near the spot where he had torn the banner down, since someone had given him a new shirt and cap to wear.  He had cut open his thumb a bit but was otherwise free and clear.  I told him that I saw another officer fall and nearly whack their head on a bridge railing while pulling out a taser.  A friend who had helped un-arrest the guy had a good picture of him tearing down the NATO banner that didn’t reveal his face, which he tweeted out.

We marched back to Jackson and La Salle without much more incident.  A few occupiers mike checked and soap boxed for a while before most of the march moved down toward the Indian and Horse statues near Congress and Michigan.  I met up with Lou, a drummer I march with at OWS from Long Island.  I was bummed he didn’t bring his drum since most of the Chicago Occupiers had trouble keeping a good beat, in my opinion.  Rachel had told me that most of their instruments had unfortunately been confiscated almost as soon as Occupy Chicago had begun.  Lou and I decided to walk past Buckingham Fountain, best known by non-Chicagoans from the TV show Married With Children.  We hung out in front of the lake for a bit. We went off in search of good Chicago pizza after Matt, a live streamer from NYC, joined up with us.  I asked some police who were sitting around Grant Park where they thought we could get the best deep dish pie in the area, and they politely but grudgingly told us we should check out Lou Malnati’s off of State Street, as men with proper Midwestern values ought to.  I asked if we could get a discount if we told the host that they had sent us.  Rest assured everyone was momentarily amused.

 

Saturday May 19th 2012

I decided to go on a solo mission to pay my respects the memorial of the Haymarket Anarchists, which had intentionally been built well outside the city limits of Chicago out of spite not for any of their actions, all of which had been perfectly legitimate, but in an attempt to murder the ideas they embodied with their lives.  I had wanted to see their memorial for some time and figured that this was the best day, given that the NATO summit didn’t officially begin until the next day.

I stopped and bought water and a decent smelling Dominican cigar from a convenience store after I got off the hour and fifteen minute train ride, and just before I began the 1.6 mile walk further outside of Chicago to find the graveyard.  The main cemetery gates were open and I started combing the cemetery, looking for Emma Goldman’s grave in the 80 plus degree sunshine before I found a path to the Haymarket Memorial via a GPS coordinate on my iPhone.  I saw a sign next to a chained entrance that listed visiting hours over at 3:30pm and informed me that trespassers would be prosecuted.  I’m not the sort of anarchist that goes out of his way to find trouble with the law, and I slipped out of that particular cemetery, given that it was going on 5pm, to find the memorial I was searching for at another nearby cemetery.

I recognized the memorial from a distance as soon as I saw it through the fence at the side of Forrest Home Cemetery facing Des Plaines Avenue.  I saw another sign which informed me that visiting hours had already passed.  It never occurred to me to check visiting hours before I left.  My resolve to visit the monument was also fading from walking miles in the hot sun to find the graves.  But the monument was so close, not close enough to touch or take a clear picture, but close enough for me to feel something deep within me being stirred the same way it had been stirred over a decade before, when I had first read the story of these anarchists from history books that those like me never receive credit for reading in school until we get into higher education.  I needed to visit this place in order to know with material certainty that history as I understood it was in fact real before continuing on to wherever the anarchist’s path may take me.  I did not know if or when I’d ever be able to return to this place.  My conscious cringed at the thought of having to return all the way back to Chicago to tell my anarchist friends that I didn’t visit a mass grave of anarchists because I was afraid to break a comparatively minor rule and jump a fence.

The cemetery was completely visible from two main roads and also by two side residential roads due to some predictably strange yet pleasant effect of Midwestern urban planning.  I didn’t see cameras on any of the nearby buildings, but there was tons of traffic around the cemetery and at least two hours left in the day before dark. Yet my resolve had been set and I started pacing up and down Des Plaines Avenue for awhile  before deciding that the main gate was the best spot, since it dipped in from the road only a bit on a short driveway, which would still provide some cover.  I waited with my back to the gate, which I didn’t think would’ve taken me long to clear even without the parkour techniques I had been practicing over the past two months.  I was so intent on watching the roads for the right time to leap over the gate that I didn’t notice the red Toyota of a groundskeeper pull up to the other side of the gate until it was right there.

I introduced myself to the grounds keeper and he told me that he’d give me ten minuets to go see the memorial after I’d explained to him that I had come a long way from New York and waited a long time to visit the spot.  It was somewhat emotional for me to approach this rare monument to anarchy.  It’s a larger than life sculpture of a defiant woman clad in black, majestically defending a fallen male worker on top of a pedestal in front of a large square column adorned with a pyramid.  It’s more than fair to say that the monument would catch the eye and tempt the curiosity of any individual of any age or culture who happened to pass by that spot at Forrest Home cemetery to learn the story of those who rested beneath these timeless stones.  I took photos with my iPhone, cleared my mind as best I could in order to say a few words to mark the occasion, and I left a small offering off tobacco near the monument from the cigar I had brought with me in the tradition of my family’s people.  I made sure I had returned within ten minutes, which wasn’t difficult as the monument wasn’t far from the main entrance.  I thanked the groundskeeper and puffed on my cigar as I made my way back to the train back to Chicago.

I didn’t want to go back to the protests that evening.  I was looking forward to hanging out with John and Nicole that evening, but they had to temporarily leave the streets for the evening due to some heat exhaustion.  I wanted to go to a beach in order to pay my respects to the “Gods” of Lake Michigan who have made me feel welcome in their waters ever since childhood.  I decided to return to the protests, however, once I learned that there was a march breaking through a kettle only two blocks away from the bus station I was waiting at on State Street.

It turned out to be a good march, aside from Jack getting knocked unconscious by a Chicago Police Van driving through the protest.  I caught up with Thorin, who had been helping out the kitchen at the convergence center in between his live streaming, and also Tim, who had moved out of his mom’s house since he and the other streamers were worried about being raided.  His fears were not unfounded, because we learned on Twitter later that night that he had been detained, and cuffed at gunpoint while he Jeff and Luke had been raided late in the night.  I was a bit worried for him at first, but I quickly realized that the incident would only increase the number of people who pay attention to him. I did in fact tweet the following morning that he had reached nearly 10 thousand accounts within 6 minutes of that morning alone, according to tweatreach.com.

– Harrison Schultz –

Editors note: This is a three part series. Check out part two. part three and see all our stories from the #noNATO actions here.

Posted in #noNATO, StoriesComments (5)

99Solidarity Occu-Bus Day 7: Heading ‘Home’

Editor’s note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This post originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. Read parts onetwothree, four (parts one and two), five and six.

New York, NY – For very personal reasons I don’t respond well to verbal abuse, and people had been yelling at me from the moment my cab pulled up in proximity to the bus I needed to catch. The wheels of the vehicle I was in had barely ground to a halt before the screaming started.

“You can’t pull up here.”

“But I’m getting on one of the buses.”

“Hurry up.”

“I’m trying to.”

“Move it.”

“I can’t, I have to pay the driver and get my bags.”

“Move along.”

I’m no futzer or dilly-dallier for fucks sake. And the cops wouldn’t exactly be happy if I vacated the cab without paying my tab. Argh! What did they want me to do that I wasn’t already doing?

Flustered, I threw myself and my bags onto the first New York bound bus I found. Only to be yelled at again. This time by an alternate driver, for some bizarre reason involving his need to sit in a specific seat so he could use a boombox to help him sleep?!?

“You don’t want to be in this bus if I can’t sleep. NO ONE DOES!!!!!”

I was getting sick of men taking their frustrations out on me. Fuck this shit.

I jumped off that bus and on to the next, only to be yelled at again, this time because it was “full.” Only it wasn’t. Fuck this shit, again.

Having run out of New York buses available to board, I collapsed with my bags on the pavement as chaos reigned around me. The presence of the police, barking unnecessary and nonsensical orders, which in turn harassed and panicked riders, was irrational. It was merely causing undue stress and hindering proceedings with absolutely zero tactical gain. After all, they were getting what they wanted, us “trouble makers” were leaving town. Like most abusive situations though, it seemed to be a power play, an action that gave the abuser the illusion of control. I hope someone felt better after yelling at me.

I sat on the cold hard concrete for a couple of minutes with my head in my hands, trying to tune out the un-checked aggression I’d been accosted with. I looked up and saw a friendly face walking towards me. It belonged to Stephen Webber, the deceptively unassuming and utterly awesome individual that had wrangled funds for the fleet of fourteen 99% Solidarity buses from the NNU. He told me not to worry, that two more NYC buses were waiting in the wings. Then, as he approached, so did the swing driver from the first bus I’d tried to board. I guess he felt guilty (he was), and offered to carry my bags to the second bus, which had now magically found room for me.

Ensconced in the relative calm of the bus, I got myself situated. Having captained one of the three buses out from LA, I’d bought a power converter with me to create a charging zone for the power hungry livestreamers aboard my designated media bus. As I negotiated with the diver as to how best to distribute his cigarette lighter-sourced juice, a female fellow Brit chirped, “Are you English?”

I turned around to see who’d inquired and immediately honed in on a girl with a crimson shock of hair. There was only one person it could be: UK journalist Laurie Penny a.k.a. my recent Twitter acquaintance @PennyRed.

I’d started following her after my friend, SG contributor @ZDRoberts had raved about her work, and had subsequently posted an excerpt from her Notes from the New Age of Dissent book – an essay entitled “In Defense of Cunt” – on this very blog. Consequently, when @PennyRed’s message saying “@99Solidarity trying to get in touch with you” showed up in my timeline, I’d immediately reached out to help. Turned out she’d been commissioned to write a story on the Chicago #NoNATO trip by The Independent, and needed a spot on one of our buses – something, as a member of the 99% Solidarity team, I’d been able to facilitate.

At the time, she’d told me she was only taking the bus one way, out from New York to Chicago, so it was a pleasant surprise to see her on the return ride. It was this kind of serendipity, born of often adverse situations, that’d been a reoccurring theme in the past few days. After all, if the first bus driver hadn’t been so offensive, I’d have never boarded this one, and we’d never have met.

The ride back otherwise was pretty uneventful, and, being a mere 15-hour journey, was far less grueling than my 50-hour epic ride out from LA. As the NY skyline appeared on the horizon, the mostly slumbering bus began to stir. “Welcome back to the rotten apple,” shouted one passenger as I stared at the deceptively beautiful view ahead. Closing in on our Upper West Side drop off point, another hollered with barely a hint of irony, “Mic Check! Does anyone know if there’s an action scheduled for today?”

[The 99% Solidarity Buses Arrive Back In NYC]
 

As a bus captain and member of the 99% Solidarity crew, at times, organizing occupiers was akin to herding cats. But that’s kind of the point. These free-thinking individuals doggedly refuse to follow the crowd like sheep, and are not easily led. It’s this very quality that more Americans could do to be imbued with. They could also use a little of the tenacity of occupiers, something that those who claim the Occupy movement is over clearly underestimate.

My coast-to-coast adventure had been a trip in more ways than one. Thought I’d traveled across the country, I’d actually seen very little of it from the microcosm of the occu-bus. But I’d been rewarded in other ways. As I rolled across America, I’d forged new friendships, strengthened the bonds of existing ones, and substantially extended my network of like-minded activists. As a group, we’d learned a few things too; That a little organization goes a long way and that united by a common cause we could depend on and trust in the kindness of strangers, especially if those strangers self-identified as occupiers.

Though 99% Solidarity had always hoped that the Chicago trip would lead to greater cohesion and an exchange of ideas between occupiers from different cities, no one had anticipated it would lead to an actual exchange of occupiers to the extent that it did. As I write this, I’m on sabbatical from LA, occupying my friend, investigative journalist @Greg_Palast’s couch in NYC. And, having been made to feel so at home by the Occupy Chicago crew, all of whom were strangers to me prior to the advent of this trip, I look forward to paying it forward to the new members of OccupyLA once I return to the arbitrary place on this rock hurtling through space that I currently refer to as home.

Talking of which, one of the other things I realized on this fantastic journey is that regardless of whether I’m in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or my native United Kingdom, when I’m amongst occupiers I am home.

Full disclosure: Nicole Powers has been assisting with 99% Solidarity’s efforts and is in no way an impartial observer. She is proud of this fact.

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99Solidarity Occu-Bus Day 6: ICE and Leaving Chicago

Editor’s note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This post originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. Read parts one, two, three, four (parts one and two) and five.

Chicago, IL–Monday was supposed to start with a march to Boeing’s HQ, but after the craziness of the previous day, this activist, like many I suspect, slept through it.

One of the best things about this whole Chicago odyssey had been the opportunity to meet friends in real life whom I’d previously been conversing with exclusively online. This phenomenon seemed to be universal among the protesters that had gathered in the city. Consequently, over the past few days, at marches, rallies, and at the Occupy Chicago Convergence Center, Twitter handles seemed to be more ubiquitous than names.

Having attempted but failed miserably to meet up with a group of Twitter friends that were particularly dear to me during the chaos of yesterday’s #NoNATO rally, we decided to rectify the situation first thing today. Therefore, at the crack of midday, I headed to one of the best pizza joints in town to break some authentic deep pan pizza crust with my Twitter besties.

There’s always a little anxiety when meeting digital friends in the flesh for the first time. Would/could I live up to my online persona? Would/could they? Fortunately, in this case, expectations were exceeded, and our friendship affirmed. With relief (on all sides I suspect) that our camaraderie was justified, we finished our food and moved on to the next march.

The focus of this afternoon’s action was immigration policy and ICE, however, as our procession passed the Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue, the sight of tourists entering the site of the longest ongoing strike in the US prompted spontaneous chants of “union busting, that’s disgusting” and multiple choruses of “Solidarity Forever.” It was heartening to see occupiers embracing the finer qualities of organized labor so enthusiastically, since at times – despite a natural affinity and synergy based on shared goals – relations between Occupy and the union movement have been strained.

Heading towards the Metropolitan Correction Center, we converged with those that had been on the Boeing march earlier in the day. As our numbers increased, the policing got a little more intense. However, clearly not wanting a repeat of the violence that had marred the previous day, the white shirts were mostly making a concerted effort to facilitate our route.

I ducked out around 5PM, since I had the next day’s Suicide Girls blog content to post, and also wanted to edit and upload my last batch of photos before jumping on the bus. All fourteen 99% Solidarity-organized and National Nurses United-funded buses, which had set out from eight different cities to ferry 700 activists to the Chicago protests, were scheduled to depart at 10 PM from the same spot they’d dropped us off at on Lake Shore Drive.

During my pizza breakfast/lunch, LA Occupier b0xcar had called me to express concern at the large police presence outside the Occupy Chicago Convergence Center, where our group was converging prior to departure. That same police presence was now in evidence by our buses.

As my cab approached, one officer attempted to divert us. It was only after I explained I was actually getting on one of the buses, that he allowed my driver to pull up in vague proximity. While gathering my luggage, plus several other bags I was transporting for friends, numerous cops took turns to yell at me to hurry up. Actually offering a hand might have been more helpful than screaming at one girl who was clearly having difficulty wrangling six heavy bags. But since assistance wasn’t offered, I clenched my jaw shut and silently took the utterly superfluous verbal abuse.

Over the past 24 hours, one of the paramount concerns of the 99% Solidarity group had been to track those who’d been arrested and facilitate their release, since leaving any of our number behind would be problematic in more ways than one. Diane Moxley, a veteran activist legal adviser who was running jail support, noted that charges tended to match the severity of the baton-induced injuries so police could justify their use of force. However, as our departure time approached, the reality seemed to dawn on the Chicago Police Department that any occupier who missed our bus would likely just occupy Chicago after their eventual release. Not wanting to add to their problems – or Occupy Chicago’s ranks – all but one of our group was released in time to make their ride.

That didn’t mean everyone was going home though.

To be continued…

– Nicole Powers – 

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Protesting the Empire from Oakland to Chicago

Editors note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This post originally appeared on the Occupied Oakland Tribune.

Chicago, IL–We walked rapidly to meet hundreds gathered in front of the Art Institute. I found out from a comrade how the march there was started by four people, walking home from the large protest, who decided to take the streets. Yes, four people ignited hundreds! So together, at the intersection of Adams and Michigan Ave, we danced and draped our arms around each other and howled our favorite chants. “A-Anti-An-Ti-Ca-Pa-Ta-Lista. An-Anti-An-Ti-Ca-Pa-Ta-Lista.” People looked so beautiful in the streetlights, all faces absolutely shining. Oh, and it started to rain! We did not disperse! In fact, the rain was what actually gave rise to our complete exuberance. This was my favorite time, if someone were to ask me to choose.

But the riot police then moved in as a malicious force to snatch and grab a comrade (a new tactic for arresting “trouble makers”). I am sure they have a reason to put on paper, but really it was to divide us; to end our moment of cheerful solidarity. As my friend Ramon wrote of his experiences with the oppressors of his Basque people, “They don’t like seeing you having fun”.

So we voted to march, as our energy had shifted. We had a GA! And while most comrades who spoke expressed a longing to stay, to hold the space, to meet each other, when we voted it was overwhelming to march. So we marched. It was spirited at first, but became a sort of manic advance on unknown dark places as police lines blocked us from the fancy hotels filled with dignitaries we had hoped to reach. Some kids became interested in turning things over (benches, flower pots), for which Occupiers got to demonstrate our familiar beauty by turning things back and then talking to the youth. But cops moved in shortly after with a reason.

These cops were not the ones with the brimmed hats and the pressed suits, who stood on street corners engaging pleasantly with folks. These wore black body armor. They were huge. They looked like robocops. They reminded me of OPD. We were walking very fast in the back, and the scuffling sounds their back body armor made as all of them rushed in behind me… Do you know what that is like? When your body goes to “fight or flight?” And then they tackled someone, the scuffling sounds peaking, and I turned around and saw four or five holding a woman up against a wall, her arm pinned above her head, the shock on her face! A woman! We walked towards her and said “We are just watching you arrest our friend. We have a right to do so.” But they didn’t follow those laws, and we felt this and started for the march again. And again I heard hideous sounds and turned around to see another sister thrown to the ground with officers on top of her. I left. I headed for the nearest subway stop. I did not turn around again.

I spoke with other Occupiers during the convergence who have deduced that police go after women to insight our anger. How it is that police around the country are displaying similar tactics at the same time. Who is giving these orders?

I return to Oakland the next day to find that another young black man has been murdered by OPD. They claim Alan Blueford had a gun. But really, the officer shot Alan three times and then once in his own foot for his own protection. And now I find out they have just arrested my friend…

We are being systematically brutalized and murdered by the state because of who we are and what we represent. It’s very romantic to think change comes about in peaceful, non-interrupting ways. But that is not our consciousness yet, and now I struggle with the notion that maybe it is not the goal after all. So, I join my comrades on the street and yell, “Stand Up, Fight Back!”

What I saw in Chicago were so many brave people, using their bodies (no shields!) between others and police. To be on the front lines as the crowd attempts to push through and police beat heads with billyclubs… “What did they say back in ’68?” one officer said. “Billyclub to the fucking skull,” another officer replied.

I read an article about revolutionaries in Egypt, impoverished by the system, who come to the mosques for refuge, their eyes red from the tear gas, their bodies bloody from police weapons. They receive medical attention, food and water and then take back to the streets to return to the front lines. We are resisting! Please, don’t tell us to be peaceful. We have tried that long enough. And our redwood forests are gone; our black, brown and poor people and abducted, incarcerated and murdered by the state; the Keystone Pine line is being built! Lakota grandmothers are standing in front of supply trucks. Let us have our anger! Let us demonstrate outrage! It is necessary.
We are in the midst of great transformation. And we are being challenged physically, mentally, emotionally on so many levels. Our adrenal systems (controlling hormones), nervous systems (controls signals between different body parts), muscular systems, are all hypervigilant.

Let’s take care of ourselves. And take care of each other.

Love Live the Oakland Commune and Fuck the Police!

– Molly Batchelder – 

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Solidarity During Wartime in the Streets of Chicago

Editors note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This post originally appeared on Shareable. Photos by Aaron Cynic and John Robb except where otherwise noted. View the full gallery. Additional photo and news aggregation by Paul M. Davis using Storify.

Chicago, IL -My feet are completely blistered, my bones are sore. I’m dehydrated, bruised and beyond exhausted. I’ve spent four days on the streets of Chicago, running through streets and alleys, cameras strapped to my body, frantically trying to take in as much information about the protests surrounding the NATO summit on Sunday and Monday.

For two days, world leaders gathered in Chicago to discuss what tens of thousands of activists described as the world’s largest game of Risk, where the stakes amount to life and death for citizens around the globe.

Some might accuse me of hyperbole, but considering the massive amount of civilian casualties (including women and children) in countries like Libya and Kosovo, bombed by NATO forces, the silent voices of the dead would probably disagree.

For the average Chicago resident, hosting the NATO summit fell short of what Mayor Rahm Emanuel predicted in nearly every way. City officials and other higher-ups in the Democratic party heralded the meeting of world leaders as a chance to showcase Chicago as a “world class city,” hoping it would be a boon to the local economy. We were assured of peace in the streets. According to officials, massive security spending will be reimbursed by the federal government, though the city’s coffers remain empty.

The city spent months preparing to host the summits, as did activists both locally and nationally. Thousands bused into town beginning many days before the summit, but Chicago residents had been chattering about them many months prior. Many concerns were over logistics – hosting world leaders means an incredible amount of security which would snarl traffic, make traveling difficult, and shut down business as usual in the city for days.

NATO protest night march 5/20/12. Photo by Kate Harnedy.

Between media hype surrounding potential protester violence, resulting in local businesses boarding up their windows (and shutting down completely for a few days, in some cases,) and the logistical inconveniences created, authorities did half the job of protesters for them by effectively shutting down the city. Places often bustling with tourists and traffic were virtual ghost towns, as many people wanted to avoid dealing with the drama a meeting of world leaders who often ignore their subjects creates.

On Saturday, May 19th, activists who came to Chicago to protest the NATO summit held over the weekend headed to the city’s north side in a show of solidarity with local activists fighting to save six neighborhood mental health clinics already closed or slated for closure. Photos by Aaron Cynic, more atDiatribe Media.

During the months of buildup to the summit, local activists managed to connect NATO to a host of issues which affect the residents of Chicago on a daily basis. Our mayor and city can afford to pay for the 1% to play, but can’t afford to fix our crumbling school system, mental health care system, public transportation and more. Members of various activist groups, including the Mental Health Movement, Stand Up Chicago, Occupy Chicago and many more staged countless marches, rallies, sit ins and occupations.

Two local clinics closed by the city still have a 24 hour presence maintained outside their barred doors. A coalition called CANG8 and Occupy Chicago both spent months making banners, obtaining permits, planning routes and rallying activists to shout through the streets in one clear, deafening voice “NONATO.” Meanwhile, the city prepared for war, militarizing its police force with shiny new “less than lethal” weapons, body armor, and surveillance equipment to confront what most activists were planning as a peaceful protest.

The march continued snaking through the streets for hours, and the crowd slowly dissipated, but hundreds still swarmed the streets. Eventually, at another point where protesters were stopped, a Chicago police van attempted to push its way through the crowd. As protesters attempted to stop the van from pushing its way through demonstrators, the driver hit the accelerator, striking at least two people and sending one to the hospital.

These instances and others were the catalyst for the mood of Sunday’s march on McCormick Place, where more than ten thousand marched for miles down Michigan Avenue to show their disapproval for NATO. The main march was completely peaceful and permitted, but as we drew nearer to the end point, one could feel the tension on both sides of police lines. A group of veterans ceremoniously threw medals they had been awarded in the direction of their generals from a makeshift stage, each telling their story of why they no longer wanted them. 

A woman from Afghans For Peace spoke of the continued struggle Afghan people face under NATO occupation. Well before the planned conclusion of the rally, police began massing, riot gear at the ready, and the more militant marchers readied themselves for an imminent confrontation everyone seemed to know would take place when dispersal orders went down.

Thousands of people streamed out of the area while others decided to stay and attempt to push forward, towards the actual location of the summit, and the gloves came off. Police wielded their batons indiscriminately, striking protesters, journalists and legal observers. Protesters pushed back, flinging a barricade at one point, throwing bottles at another. Many were injured or arrested. The area was cordoned off, no one was allowed in or out. Friends, family and colleagues were cut off from information regarding their brothers and sisters, and the predictions of blood staining the streets of Chicago came true. In the aftermath, protesters regrouped and led non-permitted marches through The Loop. On Sunday evening, they converged on the Art Institute, where Michelle Obama hosted dinner for NATO dignitaries. The mood was tense. Throughout the rest of the summit, protesters and police played cat and mouse games in the streets, but thankfully, the same level of violence did not occur.

On Monday, they marched on Boeing headquarters to highlight the corporation’s connection to the military industrial complex, and later held a press conference which turned into a dance party in front of President Obama’s campaign headquarters. In the evening, a few hundred marched through the loop to protest the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, responsible for so many detentions and deportations.

 

What I witnessed on the streets of my city for nearly a week showed the dichotomy which exists between the state and those who want to change or completely oppose it. Activists who fight for change always face intimidation tactics. But the larger the organization, the harder the push back. Fighting city hall to keep a mental health clinic open or create an encampment in the park was difficult enough, but fighting a global war machine engendered a reaction the likes of which some people had never seen.

Still, activists persevered, adapted, and took care of each other. When I ran out of water, everyone from legal observers to masked anarchists were happy to share what little they had left. When various protesters faced targeted arrests, others stepped in to try to prevent them. Hundreds marched for miles to show solidarity at the jail the arrested were taken. Street medics took care of the injured and reminded the exhausted of the wellness center created for them. Independent journalists from all over the world banded together in solidarity, sharing information, looking after each other and supporting those who were targeted for surveillance or arrest by law enforcement. People who were relative strangers before they hit the streets together shared some of the longest and most caring hugs I have ever seen.

Photo by Paul Weiskel.

If it’s one thing I can take away from observing, writing about, and participating in the protests at the NATO summit, it’s that creating community will be what saves the world. Systems of alliances and mutual defense pacts continue the same “us versus them” Cold War mentality which has left the world littered with a class structure that no state can fix. But while the rich and powerful ate well and sat in comfortable air conditioning moving pawns across their chessboards, those in the streets forged friendships and shared struggles which created bonds that will outlast any empire.

-Aaron Cynic- 

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99Solidarity Occu-Bus Day 5: #M20

Editors note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This post originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. 

Excitement for the dawn of a day that had taken much planning was severely tempered by the harsh reality of the night before. Sleep deprived but running on adrenalin, our group headed over to Grant Park.

In the same way the powers that be had tried to frame the narrative for the May Day ‘General Strike’ action by conveniently breaking news that morning of a terrorist plot by supposed Occupy activists, news of the arrest of the NATO 3 on the eve of M20 had been a prominent talking point over the past day. However, by now, more details were emerging, which made the whole scenario seem very suspect.

A pattern had started to emerge that had distinct similarities to the alleged May 1st plan to blow up an Ohio bridge – a scenario that turned out to be facilitated by the FBI to entrap a group of unfortunates who, left to their own devices, would likely be barely able to set off fireworks on bonfire night. Similarly, with the NATO 3 there was much talk of planted evidence and a highly suspect search warrant.

Following a speech by Jesse Jackson, Chris Geovanis of Chicago Indymedia briefed members of the media under the shade of a press not-quite-tent. She told us that when the police conducted the search that had lead to the NATO 3’s arrest it had taken them four hours to produce a warrant which was unsigned when it finally arrived. “That is the hallmark of dirty policing in this town,” said Giovanis, “There may very well be police entrapment here.”

The sun was beating down on Grant Park, so as the rallying cries began in the band shell, protesters were mostly scattered to take advantage of any shade they could find. Tactical and medic briefings wisely took place amidst clumps of trees.

Just before 2 PM, the protesters – and police – began to take formation, lining up in the road alongside the park. Protesters took their place in the center of the street, which was lined by police in riot helmets on either side. At the top of the march, ahead of the official rally banner, press were kettled in a pen of their own. Two police trucks were parked in front of the press pen, and in front of them, somewhat bizarrely, there was a red double-decker sight-seeing bus, the top floor of which was filled with news camera crews.

As the march set off, with the indie media segregated from the protesters, they resorted to interviewing each other. This made more sense that it might otherwise have, since the persecution of key livestreamers and members of the Twitterverse and Bloggersphere, had become one of the main stories of the day.

Walking through the streets of Chicago, I fell in step with Luke Rudkowski a.k.a. ‏‪@Lukewearechange, who was giving an on camera interview as he did his livestreaming thing. Listening in, I heard him talk about how he’d spent the night at a “safe house” outside of the city. This was a precaution several other streamers had thought it prudent to take. “We stream live, raw and unedited for people to make up their own mind,” explained Luke to the old guard reporter. “It’s a very weird situation when homeland security is interviewing your friends about you.”

When they weren’t comparing war stories from the past 24-hours, those in the press kettle were gleefully mocking the news crews atop the double-decker bus. Physically separated from the actual march by the two police trucks, these so called “journalists” were limited to reporting a perspective the police controlled. It served as a graphic illustration as to why the world is tuning into livestreams as mainstream news audiences continue to fall.

Halfway through the march, I ducked under the leading “NO to NATO warmakers” banner and worked my way back through the impressively large mass of bodies. I found my friends just as the march ground to a halt at a point where a group of veterans intended to symbolically hand back their medals. Hot, tired, and too far back to hear the speeches, we spread our large banner on the ground and lay down on top of it.

As I lay back and sunbathed with my eyes closed, I could hear the crowd at the head of the march taunting the cops on horseback who were blocking their way (“Get that animal off that horse”). When I open them once more, much of the crowd has already dissipated. Parched, I left my group, and went in search of somewhere to buy a drink. This turned out to be a highly fortuitous time to act on my thirst.

As I headed back along the march route I encountered massive formations of ominously attired officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies. The state police I passed in full RoboCop body armor looked particularly threatening, sporting batons of a size and length more akin to baseball bats. Before ducking into a convenience store I passed one who was clearly in a leadership role. His smile, swagger, not to mention the large, lighted cigar he made a huge show of savoring all seemed highly inappropriate.

Heading back with supplies in hand, I bumped into my California 99% Solidarity media bus comrade @CodeFrameSF. He was one of several new but fast friends I’d made over the course of this hectic and historic weekend. As we made our way back towards the rally the CPD issued their first dispersal warning. A few minutes later the first of several injured and bloodied protesters began to trickle by, the most severe cases were being tended to and/or carried by Occupy medics. At this point, having got a fair idea of what was likely to come watching the livestreams the previous night, this reporter decided to get the fuck out of dodge.

Back in the relative comfort of the 99% Solidarity base camp, I monitored the livestreams. With the permit having timed out at 4 PM for the official march, it had now morphed into one of the wildcat variety, which was being policed with increasing ferocity.

Once again, the mainstream press were paying attention to Occupy for all the wrong reasons. Members of our group clustered around the TV and channel surfed through several network news reports.

The visions of violence were so shocking that the collective tone of the anchors was distinctly sympathetic to those on the business end of the batons. “We’ve also seen police officers pummeling people and we don’t know why,” noted CNN’s Don Lemon. Later on in the same report, after viewing a particularly brutal shot, he exclaimed, “My goodness! Does anyone deserve that?”

Reports of injuries and arrests were coming in thick and fast. At this point one of our number with legal experience peeled off to do jail support.

[“Does Anybody Deserve This!” – CNN’s Don Lemon]
 

Disturbed by the riot porn that was taking over the TV on all channels, and in need of food and beverages of the alcoholic variety, the rest of our group decamped to a local eatery. The conversation was subdued, as our number stared down at their iPhone and iPad screens, keeping tabs on the wildcat marches that continued on for several hours.

As we walked back our base, a by now beyond capacity Red Roof Inn room, a brief moment of semi-delirious levity took hold as we spontaneously broke out in a chorus of our new favorite chant: “What do we want? Time travel. When do we want it? It’s relevant.” Yeah, I know, it’s occu-humor. Like much about the movement, you either get it or you don’t.

Full disclosure: Nicole Powers has been assisting with 99% Solidarity’s efforts and is in no way an impartial observer. She is proud of this fact.

Related Posts:

99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 1 Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 2 Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 3 Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road TripFrom Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 4 (Pt. 1) Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago
99Solidarity Occu-Bus: Day 4 (Pt. 2) Of Our Epic Coast-To-Coast Road Trip From Los Angeles To New York By Way Of Chicago

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99 Solidarity Bus: Day 4 (Part 2)

Editors note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This post originally appeared on Suicide Girls Blog. 

Chicago, IL – The action that had taken up much of the first part of my day had gone down in my personal history as one of the most civilized political protests I’d ever participated in (see previous post). It was in a great neighborhood – the mayor’s – in the midst of a handsome tree-lined street, which provided just the right amount of shade. The neighbors we surprisingly happy to see us, which is testament to how popular Rahm Emanuel is in his own hood. There was lots of beautiful flowering shrubbery, albeit with riot cops popping up out of it at regular intervals, and vendors were serving ice cream and fruit popsicles out of carts.

Afterwards I’d hopped onto a train and returned to 99% Solidarity’s temporary base to edit images and exploit their wi-fi so I could upload them. I’d also intended to post an updated blog, but then shit started hitting the proverbial fan…

I first began to realize that something was awry when several sources warned me it might be best if I refrained from attending a National Streamers Meeting that was planned for that evening. Then Twitter started to explode with news that superstar livestreamer Tim Pool’s (aka @Timcast) Chicago lodging had been surrounded and searched. Later Pool tweeted that his car had been stopped and that he, fellow streamer Luke Rudkowski a.k.a. @Lukewearechange, and three others has been detained by CPD at gunpoint (see video below). Other 140 character or less posts confirmed the monitoring, detainment and/or arrest of several other online personalities and streamers.

 

[Sunday M20 at approx. 2 AM: Luke Rudkowski, Tim Pool & Crew Detained at Gunpoint by Chicago Police]
 

Justified paranoia set in amongst their ranks as they realized they may have become targets of a coordinated effort to silence the truly free media. @YourAnonNewsperhaps summed it up best, when they called it a “a war on bloggers.”

The rationale for this strategy became all too apparent after two marches – one in support of the NATO 3 who had been arrested earlier in the day and another against police brutality – converged and rapidly devolved into a brutal cat and mouse game. After several hours, the police kettled increasingly panicked protesters in Millennium Park.

At this point, I got a call from one of our #CaliDST members @TRWBS, who’d been shooting at close quarters when a police van had seemingly deliberately plowed down a protester (he was later identified as Jack Amico of Occupy Wall Street). @TRWBS’ footage of the incident was among the first to be archived, and rapidly went viral (see video below). There were numerous other images being posted of shocking uses of force, arrests, and bloody injuries.

Video streaming by Ustream

Like a deer in headlights, at one point I just sat head in hands, overwhelmed by what was coming through on the various Twitter and Livestreams. Events were unfolding faster than I could process them. I was at a loss for words, so I stopped even trying to type. And just when I thought shit couldn’t get crazier, it did.

Likely panicked by footage of the carnage on the street, which by now had hit the mainstream news, a call came into 99% Solidarity’s base saying that the bus company had cancelled all of the NNU-sponsored buses which had been booked to transport protesters from Occupy Chicago’s Convergence Center to the main #M20 #NoNATO rally at Grant Park the next day. The tone of the bus coordinator’s voice, which I overheard as it was broadcast on speakerphone, said more than any of the words he actually used as he laid out a litany of so last minute they were implausible excuses as to why suddenly absolutely none of the fleet of 14 buses would be available the next day.

With chaos still raining on the streets, I monitored the livestreams to make sure my fearless #CaliDST friends were OK. One by one they signed off for the night, and as the Twitterverse calmed down I finally succumbed to sleep.

Full disclosure: Nicole Powers has been assisting with 99% Solidarity’s efforts and is in no way an impartial observer. She is proud of this fact.

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Video: Natalie Solidarity on Incidents with Police at NATO #M19 Protests

Editors note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story. This video originally appeared on Diatribe Media.

Activist and writer Natalie Solidarity spent much of her time on the front lines of the protests against the NATO summit in Chicago all weekend. On Saturday [May19], at an anti-capitalist march, police attacked protesters with clubs after stopping the march on State Street and Washington. Later in the evening, a police van drove through the crowd, striking at least one demonstrator and sending him to the hospital. Natalie recaps the events in this video.

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The Accidental Medic: A Short Narrative From The NATO Protests

Editors note: This is part of a collection of first-person accounts from #noNATO. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you, if you were in Chicago tell us what you saw. Submit your story.

Chicago, IL- I’m sharing this story in order to give credit where credit is due, and to express my love and appreciation for a fellow Occupier, who always goes above and beyond the call.

On Sunday, my friend, and fellow Occupier, Matt, bravely stood up to a white shirt, to negotiate my entrance into an alley where protesters were seriously injured.

Most of our friends were trapped inside a massive kettle, and the police were continuing to push most of us back.  A handful of injured protesters had been helped into a triage area by street medics, at the mouth of an alleyway.  The police were in head busting mode, and just talking to them felt dangerous.

There were too few medics in the triage area, and the police had just barricaded the alley. The medics inside were crying out for more assistance. I tried to talk my way in, but the police, including the white shirts, would not listen.

Matt appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and approached one of the white shirts, to ask that I be allowed inside.  The exchange was obviously quite contentious.  I didn’t hear everything that was said, but the white shirt eventually barked, “Okay, just her,” and ordered the blue shirts move the barricade. I looked back at my friends, and with mutual worry in our eyes, we parted ways, and I darted forward.

In that alley, we had three bloody head injuries, and one blunt force trauma injury to the chest. The police would not let EMS anywhere near us. We tried calling 911 dispatch, but to no avail. The police had total control of the next street over, so there was absolutely no excuse for their actions. We were told we had to move these people.

Patients with head injuries, for the record, should not be moved in this way. One man began to vomit the moment he stood up. We were told to take them all the way to State Street. One of the out of town medics gave me a street medic patch to put on, as I had no red tape on, at the time. I have various certifications, but I hadn’t planned on acting as a medic that day.  Ultimately, I had little choice, as the police had kettled numerous medics, and restricted the movements of others. They had injured peaceful protesters, and then kept medical assistance at bay.

I have witnessed police brutality, and general indifference to suffering, in the past, but I must admit that this experience got under my skin in a way that others have not.  It’s actually very hard to put into words.  The memory of it feels like a wound that will probably take some time to heal.  I suppose I am fortunate.  The bruises I suffered that day are quite minor, compared to some.

I suppose I am also fortunate, as are we all, that people like Matt are part of this struggle.  Occupiers like him make this fight possible, and remind me that no matter what happens, we still have each other.

To anyone who is still naive enough to believe that the police are our potential allies… I can’t begin to tell you how wrong you are.

To Matt… thank you for being brave, and for being strong, and for looking out for your fellow protesters. You are an inspiration, and I’m proud to stand alongside you.

-Kelly Hayes-

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