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4 Signs the American Spring May Be Coming to Chicago

Could the Nato and G8 summits scheduled for May put Chicago at the crossroads of the next global uprising of the 99 percent?

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Meanwhile, Thayer says that the resisting arrest law is bad enough as is. Regarding the mayor’s apparent retreat on raising the fine, Thayer told AlerNet: “The untold story that was lost is Chicago’s unique interpretation of what resisting arrest entails is egregious enough: going limp is considered resisting arrest.” He also elucidated the fact that the costs of a resisting arrest charge go beyond the fine: “A lot of people, like teachers, cannot afford to have this on their record.”

In placing blame for the passage of this ordinance, Thayer did not limit his criticisms to the Mayor. He reserved especially harsh words for the aldermen that enabled its passage, including 49th ward councilman Joe Moore. Moore had previously cultivated a progressive image by introducing an anti-Iraq War resolution in 2003, and spearheading a lawsuit against the city for the wrongful arrests of hundreds of anti-war protesters during a demonstration that March. In voting for this ordinance, he claimed critics were engaging in “overheated rhetoric and over-the-top hyperbole." When asked to respond to the alderman’s comments, Thayer said: “Joe Moore played an absolutely despicable role in this. Any credibility this guy has had for being progressive has been proven to be utterly false. He totally sold us out by deliberately misrepresenting what this legislation is about.” For their part, Occupy Chicago visited the alderman after the vote and handed him a plaque in “recognition of his service to the 1%.”

The focus on Moore, just one of 41 aldermen to support the new law, stems from people having higher expectations of him. This is reflective of the larger Occupy movement nationwide, which is born of frustration with a Democratic Party establishment that has ceased being responsive to progressive ideals. The “selling out” of ostensibly “liberal” politicians is an integral part of the provocation that informs the historic rise in social movement activism throughout this country today.

2) Climate of Repression

The American Spring will not materialize out of resentment from just a few isolated incidents of political repression. Like its Arab-world counterpart, it will be the product of a population that has reached its breaking point after years of systemic abuse. The fact is that the assault on basic civil liberties in this country has been so widespread that focusing on a handful of examples risks trivializing the issue. From the Patriot Act and FISA to NDAA to the president’s newfound right to assassinate, the federal government has acted with marked impunity from Bush to Obama. Meanwhile, the state and local level governments maintain the bulk of the world’s largest system of incarceration, still rooted in age-old prejudices and sociological biases. In many ways, Occupy is reflective of an awakening generation: the babies of the baby-boomers who no longer buy the petty propaganda spoon-fed in school about this nation being a “beacon of peace.”

A few measures designed to create a climate of repression in Chicago are especially noteworthy. One provisions in the new protest ordinance allows for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to “deputize” outside law enforcement. Originally billed as a temporary measure that would sunset after NATO/G8, the final bill left it permanent. CPD superintendant Gerry McCarthy has said this is “common practice” at events of this nature, while also noting that federal authorities will ultimately decide what amount of help the city needs. Meanwhile, many protesters fear that the bill could open the door to private firms like Blackwater. The language of the ordinance is unclear on this, and the CPD did not respond to questioning for this article.

However, multiple reports have already circulated about the use of private security trainers in preparation for the protests. In particular, the local FOX news affiliate documents the hiring of “Controlled FORCE” by the Cook County Sheriffs Department to train officers in crowd control technique. According to its website, the company has been “providing a low-liability method of subject control for law enforcement, adult corrections, juvenile justice, security, and military across the nation since incorporating in 1997.” The fact that they are providing law enforcement and private security forces the same training as members of the armed forces is an alarming example of the increased militarization of American police forces.

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