They claim to represent “the 99 percent” of the world that they say is run by and in the interests of “the global 1 percent.”
And they’re urging Chicagoans to take to the streets next week to resist what they call the city’s attempts to “intimidate you from exercising your First Amendment rights.”
But who are the groups that are organizing the anti-NATO protests — and what do they want?
Speaking at Occupy Chicago’s East Pilsen headquarters Thursday, leading faces from the coalition of left-wing activists, unions, military veterans, peace campaigners, mental health advocates, musicians and other groups introduced themselves and explained the issues they’re fighting for.
Meet the protesters . . .
Group: Occupy Chicago
Issues: Ending “the entanglement of big business and government.”
Spokesman: Zoe Sigman
They say: “NATO is a symptom of the global system of violence and oppression of the global 1 percent . . . NATO receives millions of our tax dollars, money that is desperately needed to help our rapidly deteriorating social programs.”
Group: The People’s Summit
Issues: Peace, social justice and equality.
Spokesman: Jesse McAdoo
They say: “The People’s Summit is an opportunity to participate in education, democracy and debate that is missing from our political system and from NATO . . . While NATO meets behind closed doors, surrounded by riot police, the People’s Summit will be open to everyone.”
They say: “Nurses see on the front lines what the economic crisis looks like . . . [government] austerity is nothing less than food being stolen from the mouths of children, students drowning in loan debt, individuals losing their houses, patients unable to fill their pain medication prescriptions.”
Group: Iraq Veterans Against the War
Issues: Demanding an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Spokesman: Aaron Hughes
They say: “Every day, 18 veterans commit suicide; 17 percent of service members in Afghanistan are on psychotropic medication; 20 to 50 percent of service members are diagnosed with PTSD, traumatic brain injury or military sexual trauma . . . The military is in a mental health crisis right now.”
Group: Chicago Against NATO and the G-8
Issues: Spend taxes on jobs, health care, education, pensions, housing and the environment, not war.
Spokesman: Andy Thayer
They say: “This mayor has shown himself to be very hostile to free speech . . . but the last time I checked, the First Amendment had not been annulled in the City of Chicago. . . . Don’t let the City of Chicago intimidate you from exercising your First Amendment rights.”
Group: The Mental Health Movement
Issues: Demanding six recently closed mental health centers be reopened.
Spokesman: N’Dana Carter
They say: “In Chicago, mental health is being denied to the poor — that means all the veterans that are coming home that are not able to be treated at the veterans’ hospitals will have nowhere to go, and the suicide rates will rise.”
Group: American Friends Service Committee
Issues: Nuclear disarmament, ending war in Afghanistan.
Spokesman: Michael McConnell
They say: “The NATO alliance, born of the cold war and supposedly defensive, has now turned offensive, aggressive and interventionist, and that is bad for Chicago, it’s bad for business, and it’s bad for our communities. Downtown office workers: Don’t be afraid of the protesters; be afraid, very afraid, of the NATO alliance coming here.”
Group: Barefoot Summit
Issues: Protest-orientated entertainment at the Petrillo Band Shell.
Spokesman: David Meyers
They say: “The Barefoot Summit is going to be a love letter from the people of Chicago to the world. It’s the best Chicago has to offer in terms of music and culture.”
Group: Chicago Indymedia
Issues: Grass-roots “independent” alternative to the mainstream media.
Spokesman: Jimmy Johnson
They say: “We follow proper journalism but at the same time don’t pretend to not have a bias. If we have a bias it’s towards the voices that are silenced . . . unless they’re some crazy right-wing voice like the Ku Klux Klan.”