Chicago's Cracking Down on Protests but Nurses Union Still Planning Huge Rally with Tom Morello
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G-8 leaders may seclude themselves in the woods of Maryland at Camp David, but National Nurses United and other unions, community and activist groups will continue with their plans for a massive rally and protest on May 18 in Chicago.
Activists claimed victory when the White House moved the G-8 to Camp David. Thousands of people had vowed to protest the meetings and the city of Chicago was struggling to prepare for security concerns with both G-8 and the NATO summit happening so close together. Success has only fueled their efforts for continued Chicago demonstrations.
The May 18 rally was originally planned to begin after a march from the hotel the nurses will be staying at and holding a conference. Last week, Chicago officials decided to pull the permit and force the rally to Grant Park, a location that would have pushed the protest out of view of the more business-friendly downtown. Ultimately both sides reached an agreement that would allow the rally to remain at Daley Plaza but cancel any plans to march in the downtown area.
National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said the ordeal started after the organization placed in an ad in the Chicago Reader. DeMoro said the Chicago officials claim they were worried about former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello drawing hundreds of thousands of people to Daley Plaza. Yet the nurses have advertised the rally with flyers and emails for a couple of months now, boasting of Morello’s attendance. Morello responded to the city’s claim by saying he should run against Rahm Emanuel if the mayor is afraid of his popularity.
"I've always been welcome in Chicago. You know who is not welcome?" asked Morello. "The G-8."
DeMoro said she is disappointed that they had to cancel the march but believes the fun will be at the rally. It is now longer than originally scheduled, going from 12:30 to 2:30. The union says they are happy about the extra time, believing it will allow them to share their message to more.
"We are banned from marching in Chicago," said DeMoro. "I guess nurses are a national security threat. We can walk in small groups but we do not know the actual numbers allowed, yet."
The nurses' union plans to have more than 1,000 members from around the country visit Chicago. Nurses from another dozen countries that are part of the G-8 and NATO will also descend upon the city to protest the global 1 percent.
"We scrambled to be where the world will be watching," Jan Rodolfo, NNU's midwest director, told AlterNet. "We wanted to be where nurses could have the most impact and that's Chicago."
NNU has maintained a presence on the national activist front, after Wisconsin, by joining and supporting Occupy movements around the country. Locals set up medical tents in New York, Oakland and other protest sites. Rodolfo and two other NNU members joined Occupy Chicago in their second attempt to camp in Grant Park last October. She was arrested along with her two colleagues, Martese Chism and Corey Lanham, and more than 100 other protesters. They were held for nearly 24 hours.
"It's a fight between the faith in the power of protest and the ability to push that a step farther versus the fear and leaning of a pragmatic approach," said Rodolfo. "You undermine one with the other."
The May 18 rally will consist of the worldwide group of nurses alongside activists from other organizations with a call to stop austerity cuts and for national and international implementation of the “Robin Hood” financial transaction tax. They'll start the day with a forum on the destructive global austerity programs and how people are fighting back. From there, they will move to Daley Plaza, with people portraying Robin Hood along with his merry men and women. They plan to set up a structure resembling Camp David and search for the missing G-8 leaders.