CHICAGO (CBS) — A new comic is recounting the NATO Summit back in May in cartoon form, and it doesn’t share the admiration for Chicago Police officers that dominated the headlines in the days after the summit.
The comic, “Chicago is My Kind of Town,” was created by Luke Radl, a Massachusetts-based illustrator and graphic artists.
It tells the story of the protests during the NATO Summit from Saturday, May 19, through Monday, May 21 – beginning with the demonstration outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house over the decision to close six mental health clinics. It also depicted an “anticapitalist” march downtown on Saturday evening, and appeared to speak approvingly of “bolder actions” such as picking up and taking away police barricades and “de-arresting comrades.”
The comic goes on to describe the ceremony in which Iraq War veterans gave back their combat medals, and the subsequent march that led to a heated situation between police and demonstrators in the South Loop.
In the days after the summit, Chicago Police officers were praised widely for exercising restraint and professionalism in the face of sometimes belligerent protesters. Many headlines credited officers with erasing the stain of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, in which officers were seen attacking and beating protesters in what was described as a “police riot.”
But some protesters maintained all along that there was far more excessive force by officers than most accounts reported. Echoing that contention, the comic shows officers in riot gear beating protesters with batons and accuses the officers of “indiscriminately beating” protesters to the point where they “came away battered and bloodied.”
The comic also devotes a whole panel to an incident in which a protester pointed out an ant on the curb, and after the officer hesitated, “perhaps contemplating the symbolism…” he “brings his boot down (on the ant) with glee.”
But overall, Radl told WBBM Newsradio’s Geoff Dankert that the three days of protest were peaceful with little direct conflict.
“It was almost more like a show of force rather than a demonstration of it – except, of course, that march on Sunday when people tried to continue on to the meeting – but for the most part, things were pretty peaceful,” he said.
Radl says he wasn’t sure what to expect when he came to Chicago for the summit and the protests.
“I’ve never seen so many people in my life. I’ve also never seen so many police in my life, and that was really kind of creepy and scary to see a massive city with completely empty streets except for every couple blocks, just decked out police.”
As for the content of the comic, Radl says it’s his own perception.
“This is what I saw, through me. See for yourself, and people can decide for themselves, I think, if I was heavy-handed or whatnot,” he said.