Reporting Susanna Song
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CHICAGO (CBS) — As the NATO summit approaches, the host committee is making sure local businesses and residential building managers how to protect themselves when the summit is in progress.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, a crowd walked into a meeting with the host committee at the UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine Ave., full of questions. Many were fearful of how the two-day event would alter their lives.
In less than an hour, they walked out feeling reassured.
It is now 25 days and counting down until the streets in and around the Loop and McCormick Place will be packed with thousands of police, protesters and delegates from 60 countries.
The prospect is intimidating for condo owners and residents.
Condo manager Judy Roytek said she was concerned about “basically traffic congestion in the neighborhoods, and the inability of residents to come and go freely and without incidents.”
When asked if she felt better after the host committee briefing, Roytek said: “Yes, I believe I do, yes. I think that they’ve got it under control.”
Added condo owner Mike Lieberman, “I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as everybody thinks it’s going to be.”
Lieberman, who lives on North Wabash Avenue, said Chicago Police and the security consultants here today gave him peace of mind.
The biggest concern in the room had to do with protests, which the officials downplayed.
The department it had identified six permitted protests. But what about the unpredictable?
“We embrace and we welcome First Amendment activity,” said police Chief of International Relations Debra Kirby. “But criminal conduct will be addressed, and we will address it appropriately and very assertively in terms of making sure that we are able to stop what is criminal conduct.”
“Rumor, rumor, rumor – we don’t need that,” added security consultant Terry Hillard, a former Chicago Police superintendent. “You are the people going to be the people who help us get the factual information out to our citizens, and especially to apartment dwellers.”
“Worst case scenario is going to be an endless description, but a realistic scenario that is possible is that there is police activity in front of building, and until they get it resolved, it’s not best time to either come out or enter the building. But those should be short-lived periods,” added security consultant Tom Kasza.
Security consultants also told residents to expect minimal impact to their daily routine.
Public transportation will be operating as usual, and they said it will be obvious which areas people should avoid. Secret service will set up what they call hard perimeters, or fences, most likely just right around McCormick Place.