NATO summit drawing out-of-state police
(United Press International, May 15, 2012)
Chicago police say they have recruited officers from several cities across the country to assist in handling protesters expected for this weekend's NATO summit.
Officers from Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Charlotte, N.C., will join Illinois state troopers and suburban police in keeping demonstrations from turning violent, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday.
Milwaukee said it is sending 100 officers while Philadelphia has offered 68 members of its police force.
The number of police coming to Chicago from Charlotte-Mecklenburg was not immediately available.
Chicago Police spokesman Melissa Stratton refused to reveal how many out-of-state officers were expected or why those three cities were chosen, the newspaper said.
Stratton said utilizing out-of-state officers for special security events is not unusual.
Last month the Sun-Times reported that as many as 500 Illinois State Police officers would assist Chicago in handling the NATO summit.
City Puts NATO Protest Approval in Writing
(By Anthony Ponce | NBC Chicago | May 15, 2012)
Andy Thayer, leader of the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CAN-G8), finally has it in writing.
An email from the City of Chicago states Thayer's group has been approved for a rally at the corner of Cermak and Michigan this Sunday, complete with a 30-foot stage and sound system.
"The city says they're going to sign off on that this afternoon and we're very pleased with that," Thayer said.
CAN-G8's goal is to give anti-war veterans a voice at the front of this weekend's march, Thayer said. "And I should add that this is the only permitted march that is going to be marching on the NATO summit."
With a very real threat of violent protests in mind, the city announced it will bring in additional officers to help this weekend: 700 state troopers, dozens of suburban cops and officers from as far away as North Carolina.
But the group that assembled at McCormick Place Tuesday morning reiterated its message that their march is "legal, permitted and family-friendly."
"We are committed to peacefully marching," Thayer said.
National Nurses United is even putting that commitment in writing.
"All of the folks getting on buses from around the country are signing personal non-violent pledges on their way into Chicago," said Jan Rodolfo, a nurses spokesperson.
When asked about those planning to come to Chicago specifically to incite violence -- the so-called "black-bloc" anarchists -- Thayer and others stopped short of discouraging them from starting trouble.
"There are some people who say the troublemakers will be meeting over here," said Pat Hunt, member of CAN-G8, pointing at the convention center.
"I think any discussion of violence that focuses on what's happening here in Chicago totally misses the boat," Thayer added.
Protest Organizer: Violence By NATO Outweighs Any Violence Over Summit
(Mike Krauser, WBBM Newsradio, May 15, 2012)
Those who are planning protests around the NATO summit are staying on message, and avoiding questions about the potential for violence to erupt.
Protest organizers gathered Tuesday in front of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S. King Dr., where the U.S. NATO delegation will be staying.
“The U.S. delegation, in the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” said protester organizer Andy Thayer.
He argued that the violence to be concerned about is actually committed by NATO.
“We’re going to be focusing on the violence of NATO – a violence which far surpasses any violence in any protest that this country has ever seen,” he said.
Thayer did not want to talk about the potential for violence in the streets during the summit.
“I think any discussion of violence that focuses on what’s happening here in Chicago so totally misses the boat,” Thayer told reporters. “I’d like you guys to start putting out statistics such as the record number of Afghans who lost their lives in America’s war – the longest-ever war – last year.”
He also cautioned against labeling anarchists as dangerous people.
“I happen to know a number of anarchists that I consider good friends, so let’s start right here by stopping the demonization of particular political persuasions,” Thayer said. “But I’d also say that I know, at least among my anarchist friends, the message that, ‘Please respect the vets, and they’re leading our march.’”
But Thayer did concede: “Yes, there will be some conveniences. There may even be some violence.”
All the organizers say they are committed to nonviolence.
A primer on what’s at stake at NATO Summit
(Chicago Sun-Times Editorial, May 16, 2012)
If you live or work in Chicago, you may be shocked to learn that the NATO Summit this weekend is about more than protesters and traffic headaches.
OK, maybe not shocked. Chicagoans know that leaders from 60 countries and organizations around the world are descending on Chicago for the NATO Summit.
But with all the focus on the logistics (tell me again which roads should I avoid?), we decided to offer a basic primer on the issues confronting international leaders at the May 20-21 meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. To guide us, we relied on experts from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Atlantic Council, a Washington D.C.-based policy institute, and others elsewhere.
† Quick facts: The Chicago Summit is NATO’s 25th, the largest ever and the first U.S.-hosted summit since 1999. The last summit was held in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2010. It produced a new NATO strategy that included “a renewed commitment to fight in Afghanistan, a robust agreement on missile defense and deepened cooperation on emerging challenges such as cyber security,” wrote Barry Pavel of the Atlantic Council.
The Chicago Summit was envisioned as a time to assess progress since Lisbon, but intervening events — an international financial crisis and revolutions in the Arab world — have expanded the agenda, wrote Karl-Heinz Kamp, of the NATO Defense College.
Dozens of issues are on the table at the summit, but three dominate. Each, at its core, touches on the question of how NATO maintains its relevance in a changing world, one where Asia is on the rise while Europe is in decline.
“NATO is where we talk to our allies; that’s what makes it important,” said Richard C. Longworth of the Chicago Council. Added his colleague Rachel Bronson: “If we didn’t have NATO today, we’d want to create something like it.”
† Afghanistan: Topping the agenda is the planned military withdrawal by the end of 2014 — a timetable European nations want to speed up. In a surprise visit to Afghanistan earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed an agreement with the Afghan president reiterating the U.S. commitment to stay through 2014 and maintain a largely noncombat presence for another decade. NATO leaders will work on hashing out the specifics, and the Obama administration will try to avoid a rush to the exits.
† Smart Defense: This is a fancy way of saying “doing more with less.” As European nations have cut their defense budgets over time, U.S. defense spending within the Alliance has shifted from 50 percent of the budget to 75 percent, according to the Atlantic Council. It’s a ratio the U.S. can’t sustain. Smart Defense is about prioritizing needs, pooling resources and establishing individual country specializations.
† Global partnerships: With the world radically changed since the end of the Cold War and, more recently, with the world financial crisis, NATO is looking for partnerships with non-NATO countries to help tackle new threats. These partnerships played key roles in NATO operations in Afghanistan and Libya. Forging deeper, stronger relationships is at the top of the Chicago Summit agenda.
NATO protestor charged with assaulting police officer
(By Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune, May 16, 2012)
A California man in town for protests during the NATO summit was charged with a felony for allegedly assaulting a Chicago police officer during a pro-immigration rally downtown on Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Danny L. Johnson, 31, of Los Angeles, was ordered held today on $10,000 bond on charges of aggravated battery of a police officer, a felony, and obstruction of traffic, a misdemeanor.
During the immigration rally, Johnson was seen “jumping up and down,” yelling obscenities and obstructing traffic, Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said.
When a Chicago police sergeant working a bicycle team told Johnson to move up the street, Johnson punched the sergeant in the chest, causing him to fall off his bike, Scaduto said.
Scaduto said Johnson is currently on probation in California for a misdemeanor conviction for remaining at the scene of a riot.
Johnson appeared in court with his hair in braids and wearing a black T-shirt inside-out. Scaduto told the judge the T-shirt is emblazoned with an obscenity.
His attorney, Stuart Smith, said Johnson graduated from a college in Los Angeles with an English major and is currently working for a community group there. He came to Chicago “to support people who are trying to get a better life for themselves,” Smith said.
Several of Johnson’s supporters who were at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building for the hearing refuted the police version of the arrest.
Chris McKay, who said Johnson was taking part in an Occupy walk across the country, alleged that the sergeant was the aggressor, grabbing Johnson by the shirt while he was trying to cross the street.
“I know he (Johnson) is not a violent person at all,” McKay said. He said their group was asking any eyewitnesses to come forward with video of the dispute.
Another supporter, Jason Brock, said the charges exemplified why they were protesting in the first place.
“The reason why we are here is because of things like this-- how the legal system works,” Brock said. “It’s not fair.”
Why real Afghans worry about NATO summit
(By Rina Amiri and Omar Samad, Special to CNN, May 18, 2012)
Afghanistan's recent signings of strategic partnerships with the United States and other countries have provided a measure of reassurance to Afghans about the international community's sustained engagement in the country beyond 2014, when the drawdown of NATO combat forces will be complete. But these documents are short on specifics and do not fully tackle the political, economic and regional challenges that need to be addressed so the Afghan army and police can take responsibility for the security of the country.
To give this transition a real chance of succeeding, Afghanistan and its partners need to concentrate on the risks and challenges in the critical next two years. At the NATO summit in Chicago beginning Sunday, the withdrawal timetable of international forces from Afghanistan and future commitments to support the Afghan government and army after the drawdown will be key areas of discussion.
The U.S. political strategy in Afghanistan remains largely focused on talks with the Taliban, and a chorus of voices inside and outside the government is optimistically making the case that the Taliban have reformed and can be "reconciled."
While there is general consensus among Afghans that a broad-based and inclusive reconciliation is necessary to end the conflict, key questions remain about the political order that may emerge from such a process.
This lack of discussion has amplified fears among the Afghan population of a grand bargain either between the United States and Pakistan or between the Afghan government and a resurgent Taliban -- tacitly endorsed by NATO countries seeking a face-saving exit -- that could undo the social gains and ethnic pluralism in current Afghan politics. These concerns are already creating fractures in the fragile political balance among Afghanistan's various ethnic powers and exacerbating fears of a civil war once the international troops exit.
Afghans also remain concerned about the 2014 presidential elections, when President Hamid Karzai is due to step down. The absence of an "inevitable" candidate and political trust are likely to lead to an enormously challenging electoral environment, rife with legitimate worries about voter fraud.
To instill confidence in the process, the international community needs to assist Afghan efforts to ensure credible elections through technical and diplomatic support. All Afghan political actors need to be on board for changes planned in the electoral process. This will also be an opportunity to offer any reconcilable Taliban a chance to be part of the election process.
The most critical element to securing peace in Afghanistan will be convincing Pakistan to close down Taliban sanctuaries. While Pakistan and Afghanistan have set up joint mechanisms aimed at establishing more firm control over Taliban contacts, Afghans continue to believe that Islamabad's policy gurus will continue to use its control over the Taliban as bargaining chips in order to retain maximum leverage on reconciliation and the post-2014 political order in Afghanistan.
A jittery Iran, incensed by the U.S.-Afghan partnership, also has the potential to foment instability. China, the central Asian republics, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are other key regional players that are anxious about the form the post-2014 political order will take. If more is not done to address their concerns, these regional actors may revert to supporting competing factional elements in Afghanistan and feed the conflict as they did during its 1990s civil war.
Afghans are trying to soften the blow to the economy that will follow the NATO drawdown and to move toward sustainability through regional economic cooperation, agricultural development, mining and associated infrastructure improvement. While this strategy is necessary for the long-term, Afghans want to see clear signs that steps are being taken to avoid repeating the lawlessness and violence that followed when Moscow cut billions of dollars of aid to the Najibullah regime in 1991.
To bolster confidence in the economy's sustainability, the international community will need to pace the reduction of aid, work with the Afghan government to create an enabling environment for foreign investment and support economic projects in the areas of mining, infrastructure and trade. It will also have to ensure that the tools for allocating and managing aid money are improved to minimize the possibility that these vital resources will be squandered through corruption and wasteful spending.
Afghanistan -- located in the heart of the most dangerous neighborhood in the world -- still matters, and the security concerns of the United States and the international community will continue to be affected by instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The task ahead, in Chicago and later this summer at a conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo, is to focus concretely on how best to restructure and reprioritize international efforts to strengthen the prospects for a successful political, economic and military transition to a sovereign and stable Afghanistan. That will be the real test facing a fatigued international community and concerned Afghans.
Don't politicians know about teleconferences and Skype?
Why they have to have these events, and have them in cities, I do not understand.
Don't politicians know about teleconferences and Skype? how about plopping them all on an island somewhere they won't interfere with, well, anything?
Maybe NATO wants to offer more transparency to the public?