This coming Sunday and Monday is the annual NATO Summit and this year it’s held in good old Chicago, IL; home of our President Barack Obama.
For those who’ve heard NATO before but don’t really know what it is, it’s a political-military alliance organization that is made up of 28 member countries. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or as we know it, NATO, was formed in 1949. The countries within this organization work together as partners in peacekeeping missions. They believe “an attack on one member is an attack on all members.” The only time this principle was ever needed to be put into action was on September 11th. NATO helped the US secure the American airspace and helped in combat by taking over the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan back in 2003. In addition, last year NATO protected civilians whom were under attack by an arms embargo, maintained all fly zones, three peacekeeping missions to the Balkans, offered relief assistance in Pakistan after a major earthquake and countered piracy off the Horn of Africa.
While NATO always has the best intentions, many however disagree. NATO protestors had started camping out in Chicago a couple weeks ago and already started their protesting. Many of the protesting groups formed rallies, marches and a few put on mini skits. There will be expected tens of thousands of protestors/demonstrators on the streets this weekend for the summit.
Due to what happened at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, Chicago Police are preparing for the worst. With $1 million worth of weapons and riot gear, they are ready for anything. It has been said that they will not take any of this new equipment out unless necessary. Police are hoping for non-violent protestors. As many across the country have known or heard, Chicago Police are always on their A game. Being from Chicago myself, I know they put things to a stop immediately and don’t wait around to see if anything will escalade. For those who are protesting, keep it clean, keep it safe, don’t be stupid or you will get arrested. They have already been countless arrests of protestors in the past week and there will be a swarm of police officers from Chicago, as well as other cities and towns, the secret service and more.
Traffic Alert to Fellow Chicagoans(The following will be closed from Saturday, May 18th to Monday, May 21st )
Lake Shore Drive from 39th Street to Balbo
I-55 Southbound and Lake Shore Drive to I-55 Northbound
I-55 Northbound from I-90/94 to Lake Shore Drive
Columbus Drive from Balbo to McFetridge
Roosevelt Road from Michigan Ave to Lake Shore Drive
Indiana Ave from 21st Street to 25th Street
31st Street from Martin Luther King Drive to Lake Shore Drive
Martin Luther King Drive from Cermak to 26th Street
Cermak from Michigan Avenue to Martin Luther King Drive
Ontario Street from Orleans to Fairbanks
Ohio Street from Orleans to Fairbanks
Clark Street from Oak Street to Ontario
Dearborn Street from Kinzie to Ontario Steet
CTA Bus Service and El Trains
The buses will be running but they will not be going to every drop off location and it will change daily and/or as needed. If you normally take the bus, check the routes for this weekend here. The el trains will all be running as normal with the addition of more service/capacity for the additional people who will be switching from buses to trains.
Backpacks, bikes, food and drinks will be banned from the Metra this weekend. For certain routes, there will be screenings before boarding just like you go through at the airport. Each person will only be allowed one carrying bag (no bigger than 15X15 and 4 inches deep, no suitcases, packages, briefcases). If you are planning to take the trains to O’Hare airport, find a different way because you will not be able to take your luggage with you on the train.
If you have a banned item, they will not let you store the item, they will dispose of them.
Check with your kids schools to see what their plan is for the Summit. Some schools have reported they are cancelling classes all together, others are having online classes on Friday and Monday instead and others are staying open but have an Emergency Lock Down plan to protect the children if the riots get out of hand. If your child school is staying open, please plan their route to school accordingly.
Workers in Chicago
Check with your company about dress code for Friday and Monday. Many employers are encouraging their employees to dress down for work, not carry any corporate logos or briefcases so they won’t become a target for the protestors on their way to work those days.