Chicago prepares for the worst at NATO summit
The demonstrations against NATO in Chicago during their summit this weekend are going to be loud, tense, and probably violent.
The two-day summit is also drawing protesters from around the United States and beyond, most to protest peacefully against the NATO-led war in Afghanistan and economic inequality.
Protest organizers hope thousands will turn out to demonstrate on Sunday and march to the summit site at a sprawling convention center along Lake Michigan.
Police said they will be keeping a watchful eye out for anarchists bent on more provocative actions, and have ordered about $1 million worth of new riot gear, including face shields that attach to helmets and fit over gas masks.
They have also ordered armor for police horses and acquired two long-range acoustic devices that can be used as "sound cannon" to disperse crowds.
Critics say these devices can cause hearing damage. A police spokeswoman said they would be used to deliver messages to crowds.
"What I want to do is extract the people who need to be extracted," Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy said of the strategy for handling protesters.
Police would not use their new riot gear unless it was necessary to control the crowds, he said in an interview broadcast on local radio on Tuesday.
There are fears are that the meeting could descend into the chaos of the 1999 World Trade Organization negotiations in Seattle, where window-smashing protesters ran wild. Since then, protests have become a fixture at such international meetings and police have become more sophisticated at handling them.
No doubt the anarchists will make their presence felt and innocent people will get hurt. But there's one thing about a mob; even those not prone to violence or destruction can get caught up in the moment and join the nutcases in trashing the city.