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“Pray for peace; train for war.”

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"The notion that the United States, with a tiny minority of the world's population, has the right to dominate other countries is profoundly authoritarian and profoundly anti-democratic." — Andy Thayer, Chicago anti-war activist.

 
"It’s a huge opportunity for its tourism industry, which we need to move up in the ranks of the country where foreign tourists come to the city…And I think this is an opportunity for people to see what I know this city to be: the greatest city in the greatest country, because this is the most American of American cities." — Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
 
Secret evacuation orders (see above video). Emergency rule. Military grade weapons. National Guard troops. Heightened fear and stepped-up random searches. FBI harassment of activists. Aerial surveillance.
 
When the NATO summit comes to Chicago on the weekend of May 20th, the city will be transformed into a fortified national security zone, replete with military hardware and war metaphors.
 
Meanwhile, the FBI is busy chilling anti-NATO dissent elsewhere. A student activist who has been raising funds to attend the protest from his hometown in Utah recently received an early morning visit from agents who wanted to ask him questions about his organizing and plans for the NATO summit. He refused, saying "I think it is wise not to speak to the FBI, to give them the name of a lawyer they can contact, and to then ask them to leave. Nothing good can come from speaking to the FBI. They have a proven record of entrapping activists." Smart guy.
 
Read about FBI entrapment and face recogntion technology at political demonstrations.
Police: ready for war
Back in Chicago, police are ready for war.
 
Writing for the Chicago Police Sergeant's Association website, Sergeant William Schield offered advice to his "troops" and other command-level officers: "Pray for peace; train for war."
 
Officers told Schield they had been "making preparations; working out and trying to get in better shape" in preparation for a showdown with anti-NATO protesters. According to Schield, all on duty officers have received or will receive one full day of training in advance of NATO, while "Tier 1" officers have gone through a three day training program. It's unclear whether this training program is part of the training CPD officers received at a Department of Homeland Security training facility in Alabama, the Center for Domestic Preparedness.
 
 
Above: DHS' Alabama facility.
 
The training regimen isn't enough, he warns. Officers need to be battle ready; they need to be mentally into it. 
Maybe a good idea would be taking the officers out to the parking lot, or into the station community room, to run through the formations for a few minutes. Reviewing our tactics can only breed familiarity and thus strengthen our minds….My Dad, a Marine and Vietnam Veteran, used to tell me “the more you sweat in peace time, the less you bleed in war.”
 
We, as trained Police Professionals, cannot afford to hit the street in May with our troops and be unprepared. 
No matter that the "troops" Schield speaks of are sworn law enforcement officers — civilians, not military officers.
 
The military mindset goes all the way up to the top, as city and police officials militarize policy, acquisitions and training. 

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Above: Chicago police officers interrogate Occupy Chicago activists about upcoming NATO protests, and make violent threats, during a traffic stop.

City under siege: the militarization of Chicago

Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department Garry McCarthy, a former ranking NYPD commander, hinted to Chicago press that his department would deploy military-CIA style "snatch and grabs" at key activists, instead of using heavy rounds of tear gas. He is "committed to extracting troublemakers rather than overwhelming entire crowds," the report says.

Chuck Wexler, the head of private police consulting firm Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), said officers in Chicago are well aware of the heavy-handed police tactics deployed in attacks on demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and "have been trained [so that] they can do a good job."

Yet police rank and file don't necessarily feel so confident, or harbor occupational remorse about the 1968 police violence: "In the ranks, officers quietly say they're worried about being understaffed, undertrained and blamed for anything that goes wrong. Many of them don't feel that their predecessors did anything wrong in 1968 after being provoked."

The city (and the national security apparatus) appears to want to make clear to demonstrators that it is taking no chances for a repeat of 1968 levels of chaos, but it's possible that the military style policing and surveillance will in fact heighten hostility between police and protesters.

The summit has been declared a "National Special Security Event", putting the Secret Service in charge of security and surveillance operations. That means the anti-protest law HR 347 will be in effect, proscribing severe penalties for people arrested anywhere the Secret Service is in charge. During the duration of the NATO summit, that might just mean the entire city.

Chicagoans beware: Commuter rail security and bag checks will be intensified; passengers will only be allowed one bag onboard trains, and no food or drink, including coffee. 

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel isn't leaving all the 'security' preparations to the federal government, though. Since January he has rushed an anti-protest, "sit down and shut up" ordinance through the city council and convinced the city council to pass a measure that strips the body of its power over appropriations, enabling the mayor to fund contracts for surveillance and police weapons absent council oversight or fair bidding practices.

Know your rights in the streets in Chicago. Read about how HR 347 can affect your rights to demonstrate.

Emmanuel used these emergency powers to purchase thousands of pieces of riot gear equipment and aerial surveillance tools. Chicago police also bought an LRAD — the noise weapon that can cause permanent hearing damage, and is used at demonstrations as both a police loudspeaker and a dispersal device.

These purchases added up. The Guardian reports:

In addition to the LRAD Chicago police will have some $1m of new equipment on hand for the protests, including more than 11,000 new face shields which fit onto helmets and "riot gear" to protect horses. The city of Chicago's procurement services website shows that in March $757,657 was spent on 8,513 "retro-fit kits" to be fitted to police helmets. In February 673 of the same kits, which include a face shield and ear and neck protectors, were purchased for $56,632.

The aerial surveillance technology will tie in to the city's extensive CCTV system, controlled via the central hub at the city's surveillance center. The Chicagoist writes:

The airborne units will transmit to four strategically located ground-based receiver sites providing city-wide coverage and the ability to simultaneously receive real-time images from two aircraft for viewing at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) operations center. An additional three receive systems will be installed in the city’s mobile command vehicles to facilitate field operations.

Chicago's expansive surveillance camera system is very advanced, incorporating real-time tracking and video analytics that enable automated notification of particular behaviors, such as large crowds forming or people running in the street.

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Above: a video purporting to show a surveillance drone over suburban Chicago, dated May 13, 2012. h/t @der_bluthund.

Police departments from throughout the state will send officers to assist CPD, including at least 500 Illinois state troopers and 600 National Guard troops. Federal agencies are also assisting, "with plans to cover Chicago in battle gear…as part of “operation red zone,” in which heavily armed military personnel will guard federal buildings along the protest path."

Watch a video of police training in advance of the summit.

Police expect mass arrests, but aren't prepared to deal with the bodies. According to reports, the county jail is nearly full on an average day in Chicago. Therefore police are considering using jails and prisons in the city's suburbs to house protesters. 

No matter what happens, Chicago residents can be assured that the further militarization of the Chicago Police Department will not leave town along with the NATO delegates in late May. As we have seen in Boston since the DNC in 2004, police don't easily give up enhanced powers.

Read more about the militarization of the police.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.