City, protesters gearing up for NATO Summit

May 12, 2012 3:29:59 PM PDT
Leaders from around the world will begin arriving in Chicago for next weekend's NATO Summit at McCormick Place, and Saturday nurses and students united in a march against the gathering.

The city says it's ready and so do protestors.

A group is against city hosting the event because it says money being spent on the summit should instead be used to build a trauma center on the South Side.

It's not just fun and games for Mayor Rahm Emanuel this weekend on the eve of the 2012 NATO Summit.

"We have a great police department and a great city," Emanuel said. "We'll be ready."

The mayor made his declaration at a youth sports tournament held in recognition of the summit which takes place in Chicago next weekend.

"One of the things we wanted to do was use the summit as a way to kind of engage kids not only in sport but also what's going to be happening next week," said Scott Myers of World Sport Chicago.

On May 20-21, representatives from dozens of nations will converge on the city for the 25th North Atlantic Treaty Organization's annual meeting to discuss a number of topics from the war in Afghanistan to global economics.

"From December 13, everybody has been working diligently," said Paul Van Halteren, honorary consul of the Kingdom of Belguim.

Security in and around McCormick Place has been beefed up in anticipation of thousands of protestors and multiple demonstrations and rallies.

Like the one staged Saturday afternoon by Hyde Park residents who marched from the South Side, 10 miles to the nearest trauma center to denounce spending on NATO and not health care.

The protest came a day after a group of nurses and the city reach a compromise over their NATO protest.

"I think that we're very happy that we're going to have the rally," said Donna Smith of National Nurses United. "I think that's a good thing."

Those organizing against NATO are gearing up too.

They say its policies hurt regular people.

"NATO equals war and G8 equals poverty," said Pat Hunt of Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda. "They can spin it and they're really good at it because they have a lot of money to spin it. What we want to tell people is don't believe it."

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