Site for G-8 Summit shifts from Chicago to Camp David
In the end, no amount of security was going to hold back the gaggle of protestors assembling to demonstrate against the G-8. So Barack Obama has shifted the venue of the meeting from Chicago to Camp David.
President Barack Obama will host the Group of Eight summit at his Camp David retreat in the Maryland countyside, the White House said on Monday, instead of Chicago as initially planned.
The G-8 has attracted violent street protests in the past from activists who view it as a rich capitalist club that harms the interests of the poor.
But the White House played down security concerns as grounds for shifting the May 18-19 event to the more remote location 60 miles north of Washington in the scenic Catoctin Mountains, on a base run by the U.S. military.
"The president felt that Camp David would provide an informal and intimate setting to have a free-flowing discussion with his fellow leaders," said White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor.
The G-8 consists of France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Japan, the United States, Russia and Britain.
Policy experts do view it as an good group in which to discuss delicate security issues, at a time Obama is seeking to maintain international pressure on Iran's nuclear program, and see it as much more manageable than bigger forums like the G-20.
Activists vow to flood Chicago's streets with "anarchic swarms" of thousands of people to confront the G-8 over surging youth unemployment in Europe and the United States, following Occupy Wall Street protests across the country last year.
Last week, Adbusters, the anti-consumerist magazine credited with creating the #OccupyWallStreet hashtag and providing the movement's philosophical underpinnings, sent out an e-mail to subscribers promising "a climactic showdown in Chicago" in May.
Whether Adbusters could have pulled off a gigantic protest is really not the point. The prospect of even just a few thousand protestors occupying businesses and other venues in Chicago had many downtown businesses nervous. That, and the video of police beating back the anarchists and Occupy demonstrators in an election year probably convinced the White House to move to meeting to the privacy of Camp David.
The NATO meeting in May - also to be held in Chicago - may also be moved eventually. Images of the police losing control in Obama's home town is probably not going to be on the nightly news.