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Blackhawk Chicago: NATO preparations?

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Military Blackhawk helicopters flew in formation over Chicago on April 16, likely in preparation for the NATO summit coming to the city in May 2012. Witnesses reported seeing heavily armed soldiers aiming weapons out of the aggressive combat birds. The exercise reportedly lasted a few hours and flew throughout the city.

The military said it was a "routine" exercise, but Chicagoans reportedly thought otherwise, expressing doubt on Twitter and in interviews with the mainstream media. It is sort of hard to believe that the Blackhawk drill wasn't intended to prep the military in advance of the summit. (But perhaps it served a dual purpose, and was also meant to intimidate people who are heading to Chicago to protest NATO?)

The city is definitely ramping up its "security" measures to prepare for NATO and the large protests it will draw. Some of those so-called security measures involve blatant attacks on speech. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel pushed through two anti-speech "sit down and shut up" ordinances in the city council, including measures that:

  • Raise the minimum fine for violation of the City’s parade permit ordinance from $50 to $200. The maximum penalty would stay at $1000 and/or 10 days in jail.
  • Require that organizers “provide the City with a list of all signs, banners, sound equipment or “attention-getting devices” that require more than one person to carry them,” creating “a license for the city to ‘ding’ organizers with absurd fines.”
  • Create a provision allowing “deputizing of ‘law enforcement," meaning police can get assistance not only from the DEA, the FBI and the Illinois State Police but also “other law enforcement agencies as determined by the superintendent of police to be necessary for the fulfillment of law enforcement functions.” This could include rent-a-cops, mercenaries or even the US military.
  • Require all protests to take out insurance valued at $1 million to “indemnify the city against any additional or uncovered third party claims against the city arising out of or caused by the parade.” They would have to “agree to reimburse the city for any damage to the public way or city property arising out of or caused by the parade.” Does Chicago want to "indemnify" the police against future legal action because it intends to brutally crush dissent? 

Odd that Mayor Emmanuel is so concerned about protecting the city's pocketbook, because he seems eager to spend loads of cash to protect NATO. According to the Fox News clip above, the city has a "terror shopping list" of items including:

Here's another local news take:

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We write regularly here about the militarization of the police, but it is becoming clearer that a parallel process is simultaneously occurring: the policization of the military. 
 
UPDATE: Apparently the war games continued into yesterday. One Chicago resident posted the following on Facebook with a link to this story:
 

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