'Red Zone' security beefed up on May Day

May 1, 2012 11:08:39 AM PDT
Federal authorities confirm patrols are starting in the Loop Tuesday as security is stepped up before the NATO Summit.

The patrols are starting on the same day that so-called May Day protesters planned a march to Federal Plaza.

A handful of Occupy Chicago protesters had already started gathering in the Loop's Financial District by 11 .a.m., but there were no major disruptions Monday morning.

The Occupy Chicago protesters say they want to take back the streets Tuesday and kcik off a May Day of action.

"Today, Occupy Chicago --- along with a huge coalition of unions and immigrant groups -- is planning a massive May Day march," said Occupy Chicago's Rachael Perrotta. "This is a march for the 99 percent to take the country back from huge corporations and money interests that have corrupted our political system and stand up for the rights of immigrants both in this country and the world over."

The Occupy Chicago protesters planned to join with another group at Union Park and then march to Federal Plaza at 1 p.m.

Those participating in the Occupy Chicago movement have been staging protests against corporate greed since September 23. They are focusing on Bank of America Tuesday, saying the bank got bailed out and the people got sold out.

Occupy Chicago was also joined Tuesday by an anti-NATO group of religious protesters who are spreading an anti-war message.

"We are here to promote peace and not war. We are here to support the Occupy movement in the sense of trying to see how our economic policies are so driven by our military policies," Sister Kathleen Desautels of the 8th Day Center for Justice.

No unusual amount of security was visible in the Loop Monday morning, but with the NATO Summit about three weeks away, federal agents are expected to gear up beginning Tuesday in what is being called the Red Zone, bordered by State Street, Adams, Franklin, and Harrison. Thousands of federal employees work in that area.

Many of the federal officers will be wearing battle gear, and their goal is to keep the peace as protests ramp up for NATO.

Representatives for Occupy Chicago say they embrace nonviolence and that theirs is a peaceful movement. For that reason, they say they believe that they have nothing to fear with the increased security on the way.