Chicago police and protesters clashed at demonstrations against the NATO war in Afghanistan, marring otherwise peaceful gatherings.

May 23, 2012

Chicago’s NATO Protest 2012

Photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz and Alan Chin

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Stores and businesses closed. Windows were boarded up. Visiting NATO dignitaries (the objects of the protest, to be sure) were warned not to wear suits or corporate attire while strolling around downtown. In a surrealistic version of nostalgia for 1968, the Chicago Establishment worked itself into a defensive frenzy over the prospect of anti-war demonstrators on the streets.

Alan Chin – Chicago, Illinois May 2012

The Occupy movement, after a wildly successful autumn followed by a long, frustrating winter, sought to protest NATO’s continuing war in Afghanistan with massive rallies. However, as it turned out, the largest demonstration numbered in the thousands — perhaps 10 thousand people – rather than the hordes that were unrealistically expected. Moreover, the vast majority of marchers were entirely peaceful, led by Veterans Against The Wars who symbolically returned their medals and spoke movingly of how they felt that their blood had been sacrificed in vain these last ten years.

Carlos Javier Ortiz – Chicago, Illinois May 2012

Chicago police, though, felt that the presence of no more than a hundred more radical “Black Bloc” anarchists was enough to trigger a full-scale melee of swinging billy clubs. Several dozen protesters were hit, bleeding, and scores arrested. It seemed self-fulfilling theater – for both sides – rather than any true expression of either crowd control or popular agitation. But the injuries are real.

–Alan Chin

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  • I sympathize with everyone who posted here. I’m 27 years old and I’m currently pursuing a Masters degree in Business Administration. I graduated from Hunter College with a decent average and held a job down as a College Assistant until I was let go in 2009. Now, I was forced to spend money to get licensing as a security guard part-time at least until things hopefully turn around (and I doubt it will). I’ve had some experience working as a College Assistant, Test Assistant, File Clerk and at the Language Lab at Hunter College. I think it’s really sad that we busted our asses to get somewhere in life and this is what we get. It’s ether you have a shitload experience from since you were 13/14 or you suffer.

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