Some of the most powerful leaders in the world came to Chicago to meet at the May 2012 NATO Summit. Also in attendance were several thousand members of the “leaderless” Occupy Wall Street group and their affiliated Anarchists who claim to despise power but ironically strive constantly to it achieve it.
Between these two entities stood the undaunted members of the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois State Police. Those two agencies planned and trained extensively for the event and it showed in their stellar performance on the world stage. Officers were photographed and recorded from hundreds of different angles — constantly and consistently looking like the “Good Guys and Good Gals” they are. Their restraint and patience visibly frustrated the demonstrators, who could be seen trying their best to do their worst to illicit an excessive police response.
Occupy forces failed in such attempts.
Proactive in Planning
High marks go to the Chicago Police for being extremely proactive with not only their planning and training, but also in gathering pre-event intelligence. This paid off with the arrest of three anarchists who according to reports planned to fire-bomb President Obama’s local headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s, home as well as police stations. The follow-up investigation has since netted two more co-conspirators.
Also noteworthy was the fact that during a traffic stop made in Chicago days before the conference, an Illinois State Trooper located $800,000 in cash secreted inside the vehicle in heat sealed bags. The driver of the vehicle was none other than 65-year-old Karl Armstrong, a 1960s-era radical who was convicted for his role in the Sterling Hall Math Research Center bombing on the University of Wisconsin Madison Campus. That devastating explosion in 1970 killed gifted researcher Robert Fassnacht. Armstrong was sentenced to 23 years in prison, but the home-grown terrorist-killer only served seven years.
Armstrong denied any knowledge of the presence of the large quantity of cash (which, ironically seems to have bumped this 60s radical from the 99% to the 1% he and his fellow protester decry.
Was this a coincidence? The investigation continues... I’ll keep you posted.
Reactive to the Peaceful
The crowd was a mixed bag of demonstrators calling for peace, social justice and economic change. Some demonstrators made their point peacefully. One group of Krishna’s swirled about Grant Park, wearing blissful smiles, while singing “Hari Krishna.”
During these peaceful moments, Chicago Police could be seen positively interacting with members of the crowd. The department utilized a friendly, but firm presence of foot as well as bicycle patrol officers.
Reactive to the Violent
Eventually the “Black Bloc,” element of the Occupy movement appeared dressed in black. Many sported bandana’s over their faces to conceal their identities. Others carried banners, either black or black and red, mounted on poles.
When the anarchists appeared they chanted, “Whose streets? Our Streets!”
They followed with another, more disconcerting chant, “What do we want? Dead Cops!”
During the skirmishing the demonstrators tossed bottles and rocks at the police. Some members of the crowd were targeted for arrest and these arrests were made quickly and efficiently.
Chicago police chose to control this crowd by their physical presence rather than with chemical munitions, a decision that was made by commanders on scene. One such commander Superintendant Garry McCarthy appeared to be everywhere and at one point hovered above his officers calmly yet Patton-like as he stood in his white shirt and eight point hat, perched upon a cement planter just behind the police line.
When the Chicago Police and State Police could not be goaded into over-reacting, the protestors took direct action against the police line. The entire crowd pushed forward, causing the front line of demonstrators to crash into one line of Chicago officers. It appeared to be an attempt to over-run and devour the front line of officers.
The officers showed they were not on scene just to look pretty and in doing so they made a national statement, which appeared to be finally heard by most of the nation. Batons are a defensive tool and sometimes are the best tool for the job at hand. Officers used their batons to defend themselves and drive back the aggressive members of the crowd. One demonstrator swept through the line, during the encounter showed in his choice of attire, intent to do things that would warrant a less lethal munitions response. He was heavily padded with a thick Carhartt suit.
At key locations the aggressive group of demonstrators, were met by a large group of officers who utilized effectively a phalanx formation, which was backed up by a line of mounted officers. It proved to be impenetrable.
During the multiple skirmishes one police officer was stabbed in the leg and a total of eight other officers were injured, by the Occupy group which maintains that it is non-violent, even though violence has followed it nearly everywhere.
It would be impossible to gauge how many Anarchists were injured since news agencies in the crowds reported seeing some protestors applying fake blood to feign an injury caused by police. This street theatre was for the consumption of the media and to their credit some members of the media reported these events accurately.
Observations of the Significant
On Scene Commander Garry McCarthy said on Monday, during the event, “We got them (his officers) trained and equipped, and they executed the plan on all levels.”
Craig Futterman, who is a University of Chicago Law Professor observed, “Generally speaking, the CPD seemed to exercise an extraordinary amount of restraint.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose own home and family were an intended Anarchist target said of his officers, “They did a tremendous job under very stressful circumstances over the last four days, and they make every one of us proud.”
I must preface this statement that in my career I have been a part of many team actions facing very riotous crowds and I have been a Crowd Control Team member, commander, and trainer for many years. As I watched those Chicago officers from the safety of my home I came to this conclusion. I would be proud to say, “I trained you.” I would be proud to say, “I commanded you.” But mostly I would be proud to say, “I served with you.”
To all local, county, state, and federal officers involved in maintaining peace and order at the 2012 NATO Summit, outstanding performance!