Published May 9, 2012 10:36 PMThe police used the 3,000-strong May Day march for their plans to threaten repression and violence. At least four helicopters in the air and riot cops with body armor, boots, bats and helmets were out in force on May 1, despite the fact that many families with small children were in attendance.
In the corporate media, the only groups that are allowed to be portrayed as the instigators of violence at protests are anarchist youth, especially if they identify as OWS, but never the cops. But if you want to know who’s there to start the violence, all you have to do is notice who dresses for it: armed uniformed riot cops with body armor, batons and helmets.
Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emmanuel; Chicago Police Department superintendent, Garry McCarthy; and Fraternal Order of Police president, Michael Shields, have been working overtime with their partners in the Illinois State Police, the National Guard and Homeland Security to create a climate of fear for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization conference at the McCormick Place Convention Center to be held May 20-21.
In an article, “Baby strollers, violence, and the battle for the story of the NATO-G8 protests,” Jake Olzen says the violence-baiting of the anarchists and other protesters “conveniently shifts the narrative away from the institutional violence, vital interests, and systemic injustice of NATO-G8 onto what the protesters … have done before they’ve even done anything. And the acceptance of that narrative in both the media and by activists who agree with that assessment of protester violence (or are silently complicit with it), hinders greater participation in the movement.”
The article goes on to say, “Unfortunately, the narrative of violent protesters goes largely unchallenged. The upcoming NATO-G8 protests — and all its components — represent a de-legitimizing counter-force to NATO-G8's business as usual: violence and the destructive force of global capitalism. If the protests are not contained or discredited by the security forces whose functional apparatus is to protect the bureaucrats of war and capital, the facade that ‘there is no alternative’ crumbles and gives voice to the multitude. It should be a given, then, that the state will seek to use violence against the movement.” (wagingnonviolence.org, Feb. 24)
State violence breeds resistance
The Chicago Police Department has a long, sordid history of sadistic violence against workers and oppressed people.
Examples of that violence include the Haymarket cop riot in 1886 that sparked the original May Day; the 1919 racist mob attacks against the Black community that the cops aided and abetted (former Mayor-for-Life Richard J. Daley’s racist Hamburg gang was one of the instigators); the brutal attacks against student demonstrators, journalists and bystanders at the 1968 Democratic National Convention; and the death squad operation that assassinated Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton in the early morning of Dec. 4, 1969. Along with Hampton, who was only 21 years old, Mark Clark, another Panther member, was killed at the age of 22 in the same raid.
Today, Chicago cop violence continues unabated from police commander Jon Burge, who used electrical shock to torture hundreds of Black men into false confessions on capital crimes (under the protection of Richard M. Daley, first as state’s attorney, then as mayor); to the racist killing of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, an African American; Darrin Hanna, a Black man beaten and tasered to death; and the double jeopardy railroading of Howard Morgan into a 40-year prison sentence for the “crime” of surviving a racist cop attack where he was shot 27 times — to name a few.
The CPD is a racist terror squad whose job it is to militarily occupy working-class communities of color in order to uphold the political and economic rule of the rich. In this, it has the identical role that NATO has internationally — waging war and occupation on the “Global South” to ensure the rule of finance capital, mainly U.S. imperialist finance capital. The CPD and NATO were made for each other.
Cops and politicians are stumbling all over each other in a mad race to see who can come up with the most threatening stance against anti-NATO protesters. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart tried to float the idea of reopening the Joliet Correctional Center in anticipation of many anti-NATO arrests. Joliet has been closed since 2002. In response, Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano said that “Joliet Correctional Center is closed and not an option.” (corrections.com, May 3) Top cop Michael Shields characterized anti-NATO protesters as “… a bunch of wild, anti-globalist anarchists.” (www.guardian.co.uk, Jan. 19)
Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda organizer and longtime anti-war and union activist, Joe Iosbaker, said, “The corporate media have been, with a few notable exceptions, partners with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Superintendent McCarthy in their vilification of us. Their story is that protests lead to violence, even when the only violence is police hurting people. Of course, not once has any reporter noted the violence of NATO’s wars; the devastation to people’s lives brought by the economic crisis, caused by the bankers of the G8; or the poverty forced on workers by the austerity measures imposed by the members of the G8.
“People are saying this will be larger than our (2008) RNC protest, which drew 30,000 people,” Iosbaker said. ”I think there will be some synergy as the movement against corporate globalization comes together with the anti-war movement. Our slogan is ‘Jobs, Healthcare, Education, Housing — Not War.’ We want our marches and rallies to be things that people can bring their children to. We want everyone who wants to say something to these heads of state to be heard. We intend to have our rights respected — our rights to assemble, to speak, and to march.” (wagingnonviolence.org, Feb. 24)