What our team experienced over the weekend while at the Chicago #NoNATO protests
We arrived late Saturday, into news that some of our allies had been already harassed by the police. We took it in stride and decided that it was best if we save our strength for the next day, Sunday, where the major protests of the weekend were to happen.
We arrived at Grant Park around 0930, hoping to catch the tail-end of Scott Olsen’s speech. Unfortunately, we arrived a bit to late for that and instead we wandered, getting familiar with the area and waiting for allies and Comrades to come. The march started at 1400, and we took up our place amongst the Black Bloc.
All was well and good, even though we were surrounded at all times by literally thousands of police, all dressed for a riot, with their robin’s egg blue helmets. The march went well, though we encountered some anger from the lines of people dressed in orange vests, the “leaders” of the march, we guessed. Their anger befell us as we, the Black Bloc, rushed forward to attempt to gain the front of the march so that the tactics Black Bloc is known for amongst those informed(protecting the marchers from the police) could begin to be employed.
Eventually we came to our destination, McCormick Place, and it is there that the Iraq Veterans Against the War were making their speeches and where the ceremony to give back their NATO tags was to take place. The atmosphere was jovial for a time, though everyone was a bit sore and tired from the march. We took a seat, meeting the people around us, including one character in particular. I will not use names, but he was a veteran turned away from participating in the ceremony by the IVAW because he had not been pre-approved on some mailing list.
We spoke a bit about that, and as we left to obtain some water he asked me for a hug which I gladly obliged. On our quest for water we left the speech-making area and came suddenly to the revelation that the entire place was surrounded by police. The way we went took us past more riot cops than we could count, cops with dogs, cops on horseback, several paddy wagons and the LRAD(s). We got water, hanging out at the medic table for a minute, listening as the speeches began to come to an end.
That is when they began to move in. Their movements caused us to look up, whole battalions of militarized police moving in on the area where the protestors had basically kettled themselves. We took actions immediately, racing back to the protest and human slaloming our way through the crowds to reach those people we knew who were ready to take the necessary steps in warning people, the Black Bloc.
The speeches still hadn’t come to an end yet, but they would soon, we knew. We began warning everyone of the imminent police actions and attempted to find a way out of the area with the least amount of police. We realized that way was forward, towards where the speaker’s were. Towards where the Cavalry Cops sat atop their helpless, innocent horses with all the cockiness of a cat whose caught its mouse in a trap… or pigs wallowing in mud.
The decision was made to attempt to leave the protest towards the East. The completely opposite direction the police were now airing over the LRAD. We refused, we actively said no to being kettles as such and began a push to move forward past the riot police. It happened so quickly, though I knew we were a meter, maybe less away from the trampling hooves of the pig’s slaves. We pushed and pushed and pushed, at one point I was asked if I was trying to leave. I said no, and the gentleman who asked me gave a hearty whoop and redoubled efforts to push the person in front of him back against the tide of riot police, pushing us back. Those of us at the front of the effort were well near trapped between the protestors behind us and the pigs in front of us.
That was at which point we decided to leave the mass, deciding that my medic’s skills were going to be more useful outside of it. I had already treated two people for dehydration and over-exertion. That is when things became crazy.
As we pushed out of the mass, guided by the path created by the words “We’re trying to leave!” we heard the cries of “MEDIC!” I stopped, looked around, and it was at that point a small girl was led up to me. She was barely able to stand on her own and the person with her said she had taken a police baton to the head. We jumped into action, fireman carrying the girl out of the danger zone as I screamed at the line of riot police to get the fuck out of our way, the girl has a head injury.
We got out, and laid her on the ground. She was shaking so much that the medics with me all agreed it looked like she was having a seizure. I took off her sunglasses, which I still have, and checked her eyes. I called a concussion and told the medics with me to try and get her to an ambulance. It was then I got pulled away, to treat another.
This one had an obvious head injury, pouring blood from both his mouth and his nose, bright red staining the white shirt he was wearing. We had him sit down in the area behind the riot cops we thought was safe, and as we began to treat him things all around us changed. We found ourselves being threatened with the weight of thousands of protestors as the police began to push them back in our direction.
We made sure he was okay and got up and moved quickly to the sidewalk after the patient began refusing additional care. We began to clear a space for the medics to work on the sidewalk, again thinking it was a safe place, or at least safer than inside the pit. We recruited some of the Black Bloc to help us, and they did so excellently, until the riot police decided the sidewalk was no longer an area of free speech. We were told we couldn’t be there, we told them we were medics who needed an area to treat people. They obviously didn’t care about the people they were wounding.
The decision was made to attempt to find an area a bit farther away from the center of the violence to treat patients. Black Bloc assisted the medics getting them and their patients to a safer area. We stayed behind, on the sidewalk, now vocally airing our grievances at the pigs. We continued to do so until the police started to actively move us out of the area, passing a line of riot police heading in the opposite direction. The last one on the line had been arguing with a girl a few feet away, and as I passed him he said “Keep being a fucking bitch.”
This was the first such harassment I saw and experienced at the hands of the “professional” Chicago Police Department. On the walk back to our meeting area I was harassed numerous times, sexually, by the Chicago PD. I had stripped off my shirt, being that it was nearly 90 degrees outside and terribly humid, staying legal in my bra. I have learned not to expect any less from those pigs whose testosterone levels threaten to burst out of their nut sacks.
Once we reached our meeting place we realized it was not the greatest area. Across the street they were holding the NATO dinner, as our luck would have it. We attempted to contact our Comrades and then were left in the dark once all our tech had died. We waited for a few hours, engaging in conversations with both the people there on purpose and the people stuck there by the closing of the city for several blocks in all directions. We met another few anarchists, a female in that group whose head was shaved to a mohawk sharing her own story of police sexual abuse. Two cops had come up behind her, one of them grabbing her breasts, the other making comments such as “Is that a man, or a woman? I can’t tell!” though she was quite pretty in the alternative sense.
Finally, we realized that our group wasn’t going to be able to come to us and so we listened to the police radios, waiting for news. When we finally got it we sprang to action and began our hunt to find the march. Eventually, we did, and our Comrades, too. They shared stories of the medic area being cleared out by riot police, heads nearly bashed in, and one cop in particular who broke and began going crazy, swinging his club wildly like a caveman hoping to score a date.
We decided to try and return to the place we were staying. On this journey we encountered many, many police from all over the country. North Carolina and Texas were represented, and so was Detroit. We got slightly lost and the workers at one of the stations told us we needed to take the underground. To do so we had to walk through an intersection that had at least 10 riot police on every single corner. That didn’t phase us…. at least not until 8 of them followed us down into the subway station.
They barked “What do you think you’re doing here?!” To which we smartly replied “Trying to take the train.” Their retort would have made us laugh had we not been nearly alone with 8 riot police, all armed with guns, batons, and badges allowing them to do whatever they pleased to us. They said “This station is closed” we said “What about the people going in and out of it right now?” with a point to a young man who was going through the gate and several people coming out of it. The pig in charge, or at least the one on the phone with his superior, then basically yelled at us as we attempted to leave “HOLD ON. WE ARE GOING TO MAKE SURE YOU GET ON THIS TRAIN.”
At this we were extremely cautious, they outnumbered us by far and our previous experiences with the Chicago PD made me think we were going to get the shit beaten out of us at any second. But we obliged because it was the safer option. All 8 of the riot pigs followed us the next level down to the platform, though once down there 4 of them left. They glared at us for what felt like hours, but was probably less than 10 minutes.
Once on the train we breathed a sigh of relief, laying out in the seats like we owned the damn place. After all, we felt we earned it, a nice air-conditioned train ride after miles of marching and police violence. At the next stop, an officer glanced in our window. Our relief faded quickly back into apprehension as the man stepped on the train and asked who the owner of the black medic bag, gas mask attached, was.
We were pulled off the train and searched, forced to give information that I was thankfully able to fabricate due to my lack of identification. This ordeal lasted maybe 20 minutes, in which he only took down MY (false) information and didn’t even search my bags like he said he would. We were interrogated about the gas mask, but my response stayed “I brought this today because I am used to police being vicious. I am expecting to be tear gassed by YOU, not my friends.”
Eventually he let us go, leaving us on the platform to wait for the next train. Thus concluded our first day at the #NoNATO protests.
Our second day started and the ball got rolling quickly. We quickly obtained spots at the very front of the march, ready to help lead it and the chants. It was an epic day, especially relative to the previous police-on-protestor massacre which resulted in no less than 20 serious head injuries from what we could gather.
The police were there, but they showed up without their helmets. We heard this was because even the MSM was being sympathetic to the unarmed, unprotected protestors getting their faces smashed in courtesy of the Chicago Police Department. To our knowledge there was only one incident on the march, when we attempted to help a Black Bloc member who was being targeted by the police escape the crowd. He, unfortunately, did not make it.
It was then we finally got back to(or near) Grant Park and learned that we, ourselves, were being targeted by the police for pre-emptive action. We were told by several people that they had heard and seen the Sgt Pig pointing us out to his fellow barn animals. We bounced with the quickness after learning this, not wanting to be arrested for the fear that they would learn who we truly were. And thus came to close our second day of the #NoNATO protests.