Largest planned NATO protest finalizes details

May 15, 2012 (CHICAGO)

They will be marching to an area near McCormick Place, where world leaders will gather for two days of meetings.

Protesters wrapped up a news conference Tuesday, announcing they officially will be getting a permit for a stage and speakers. The Coalition against NATO already had a permit to walk on Sunday. Protesters say they will also be allowed to hold a 45-minute rally at the end of the march. That rally will include speakers, a stage and large TV screens.

"We are committed to peacefully marching. We will be focusing on the violence of NATO, a violence which far surpasses any violence in any protest that this country has ever seen," said Andy Thayer, Coalition against NATO-G8.

"We will be standing up to oppose NATO and oppose the war machine. We want the NATO leaders to meet with us and talk to us as veterans to discuss how they are being used as a tool and how we can work together for true peace and democracy," said Leah Bolger, Veterans for Peace.

The Chicago Police Department has announced that officers from the Charlotte area in North Carolina, Philadelphia and Milwaukee are among those heading to Chicago for the NATO summit. Chicago police say Illinois state troopers will be working motorcade duty as well as patrol the command center. As part of the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, officers across the state have been called to help.

Chicago police will also have two LRADs on hand for crowd control. They cost $20,000 each. Police say it will help clearly broadcast information to large crowds. Although they can also emit painful high-pitched alarm tones, police say they will only use them as a messaging device.

The protests have already begun. At least three of the eight anti-war protestors arrested outside President Barack Obama's downtown campaign headquarters Monday were free by Tuesday morning. The group Catholic Workers called for more money to be spent on helping the poor and less on war.

"I'm glad to be out. I thought I would be in all night, and now I can get back to work and get working for the cause to stop NATO this weekend," said Sam Yergler.

Chicago police say the additional officers from other agencies will be in town the weekend of the NATO summit.

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