Reporting Derrick Blakley
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CHICAGO (CBS) – With less than a week to go until the NATO summit, there are growing signs of the extra security that’s going into place in time for the arrival of NATO delegates this weekend.
Extra police are on patrol all around the Loop, parking restrictions have started going into place near McCormick Place, and eight anti-NATO protesters have already been arrested, charged with trespassing at the building that houses President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters.
CBS 2′s Derrick Blakley found even more activity at Columbus Drive and Monroe Street. It was something we haven’t seen before: an AT&T portable cell phone tower, mounted on the back of a truck.
The company sends out that equipment when more cell phone capacity is needed. It’s been set up in anticipation of the large crowds of protesters planning to gather in Grant Park leading up to the summit.
There are also digital signs posted at Columbus Drive and Fairbanks Court, warning of closures along Lake Shore Drive during the summit.
Commuter Kevin O’Connell said the summit will be an inconvenience for him, because of street closures planned at Columbus and Ohio Street.
“Just getting to work, we work right there,” he said. “The agencies downtown … they’re having people work remotely from home. So, it’s gonna be a hassle. Nobody’s gonna drive.”
The no parking signs for summit weekend are already going up, along stretches of Ohio Steet, Columbus Drive, and Indiana Avenue
On Indiana, across from McCormick Place, there’s already no parking all through the summit. Even more parking restrictions will go into place in the South Loop, downtown, and around several Chicago hotels where NATO delegates will stay.
That will create a hassle for driving and parking in the days before the summit.
“Chicagoans like to get where they’re going really fast,” commuter Genise Johnson said. If they can’t do that, “they’re going to be angry,” she added.
Officials at the Art Institute of Chicago are already tightening security, telling a CBS 2 cameraman Monday to stop taking pictures from the sidewalk.
“You can’t video our museum,” the guard said, even though the cameraman was on a public sidewalk.
Security at the Art Institute has also started searching bags of both visitors and employees. The museum will be hosting First Lady Michelle Obama and the spouses of NATO delegates for a dinner on Sunday.
Even local businesses are taking precautions, including a 24-hour Jewel grocery store at Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue, which will close at 10 p.m. on the days of the summit weekend.
The Whole Foods on Roosevelt Road is advising its shoppers to come in before or after the summit, as road closures could affect shipments or the ability of store employees to get to work.
One more sign of NATO is a letter sent to residents of a downtown high-rise at 200 N. Dearborn St., telling them the building’s freight elevators will be shut down from Friday through next Tuesday. Its garage entrances might also close during the summit. Residents might also need to cross police lines to get into the building during the summit.