8 Anti-NATO Protesters Arrested Outside Obama Campaign HQ
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Updated 05/14/12 – 6:22 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Eight protesters were arrested Monday morning, after sneaking past security guards at the Prudential Building in an effort to take their anti-NATO message directly to President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters.
Six men and two women were arrested for refusing to leave the building after police showed up. They were charged with misdemeanor trespassing. Police said they were fingerprinted and put through background checks, as part of standard procedure.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports the protesters were part of a group who call themselves the Catholic Workers. They want less money spent on war and more to help the hungry and the poor.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
The protest started outside the Prudential Building, with about 100 activists picketing outside, before dozens of them marched through the lobby of the building, making their way past security guards and running up a set of escalators to the second floor.
During the protest, building security had shut off the escalators and elevators and locked several revolving doors, but some protesters snuck through side doors and pushed past security guards inside.
As they marched through the lobby, protesters sang folk songs and read a statement before Chicago police officers showed up and demanded they leave the lobby.
When eight of the protesters refused to leave, they were handcuffed and taken away.
It could very well be a precursor to protests planned for the rest of this week, in advance of the really large ones planned for this weekend as the NATO summit gets underway.
Despite the arrests, Monday’s protest at the Prudential Building was peaceful, with several protesters clapping and singing as those who were arrested were led out of the building.
“We are people of faith, and we want an end to war, and we believe that NATO – which is meeting here in the coming week – is fomenting war, and creating new wars,” protester Jim Haber said.
Haber, a protestor from Las Vegas, said he and many others came to Chicago early to begin a week of “civil resistance.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who arranged for the NATO summit to come to Chicago after taking office last year, said he’s satisfied with the police response to the protest at the Prudential building.
“The police are doing their job, the other people are having their job to express themselves,” Emanuel said. “I’ve said before, we’ll protect public safety, and also public speech.”
As for whether the protesters’ anti-war message reached Obama’s campaign headquarters inside the Prudential, an employee there said they will release a statement later on Monday.
All the protesters left by building by 9:20 a.m.
The demonstration at Prudential was just one of a number of events where protesters were getting an early start on what is expected to be a week’s worth of protests before the NATO summit.
At Dyett High School, in the Washington Park neighborhood, Occupy Chicago protesters staged a rally Monday afternoon to call for an art program at the school, which is set to be phased out over the next few years. They also protested a lack of education funding in general.
“Education is a right, not just for the rich and white,” protesters chanted outside the school Monday afternoon.
Occupy Chicago was joined by members of the Chicago Teachers Union and students took part in the rally. They tried to tie education issues to more global issues.
“This city is spending $128 million on NATO, while they refuse to incorporate a bona fide art program into one of our area high schools,” CTU representative Jackson Potter said. “Where are our priorities?”
They were among many protesters who are trying to take advantage of the national and international media attention that will be on Chicago in the coming days to get out word about a number of causes, not just their opposition to NATO.
One other such group is National Nurses United, which is gearing up for a huge rally on Friday at Daley Plaza, featuring a performance by former Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello. Their protest was originally planned to coincide with the G8 summit, which has since been moved from Chicago to Camp David.
“We proudly remain a threat to the moneyed interests, who have failed to stifle us,” Morello said.
Controversy over the city’s decision to change their parade permit after Morello agreed to perform during their protest hasn’t stifled the nurses, who are calling for a Wall Street financial transaction tax.
Originally, the group wanted to march from the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers – where President Barack Obama will stay during the summit – to Daley Plaza, but the city later told them they’d have to move their rally to Grant Park, due in part to Morello’s performance.
When the group agreed to cancel its march through downtown, the city allowed their rally to be held at Daley Plaza, as they wanted.
Although the nurses’ message has nothing to do with NATO, they said it doesn’t matter.
“This is about getting the attention of the world,” one member of the group said on Monday.
While protests so far have been largely peaceful, there are several more days of demonstrations planned before the biggest protest rally on the opening day of the summit on Sunday.