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Chicago Tribune: First big NATO protest rolls out Friday

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David Heinzmann and Bill Ruthhart

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune photo by Zbigniew Bzdak
A Chicago Police officer watches as workers erect a stage
for a protest at Daley Plaza led by a California-based nurses
organization on Friday morning.

The first major demonstration of the NATO summit weekend descends on Daley Plaza today, promising to gather thousands of people protesting government economic policies they believe benefit wealthy corporate interests at the expense of working people around the planet.

Led by a California-based nurses organization that chartered more than a dozen buses to carry protesters from cities across the country, the event will be the first major crowd-management challenge for Chicago police who have been reacting to smaller demonstrations all week. In addition to members of National Nurses United, the rally at Daley Plaza will draw demonstrators from the Occupy movement and myriad other protest groups who have been focused on this weekend since President Barack Obama announced last year that world leaders would gather here for both the NATO and G-8 meetings.

Although Obama decided in March to move G-8 to the presidential retreat at Camp David, protest groups have merged their criticism of military and economic policies to make Chicago the singular focus of demonstrations.

Over the last week, plans have changed more than once for the nurses demonstration that first received a city permit in January as a march from the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers in Streeterville to Daley Plaza. City officials changed their minds last week and said the growing publicity around the event and the news that political activist and former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello would perform posed too great a challenge for city emergency authorities.

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