The summit itself will be held in Chicago today, now that all the G8 big shots have arrived. The biggest protest event is set for late this morning in Grant Park. So far, events this week haven't lived up to the police and press hype. The semi-lockdown of our building has thus far proven entirely unnecessary.
I worked out in the boonies all day yesterday, but I was told that the neighborhood around our building was absolutely deserted. It was a hot, sunny day and, ordinarily, the area would have been jam-packed with shoppers, fun-seekers and locals out and about. Many of the businesses that rely on retail shoppers, diners and fun-seekers closed yesterday, and those that stayed open took a big financial hit. We're north of the river and the downtown action was south of the river, with the rest in scattered pockets around the city. In the North Center neighborhood, on Chicago's Northside, the overwhelming heat sent some protesters to the hospital and most of the rest to local park looking for shade. A large, impromptu Yoga class was held.
There have been some skirmishes and arrests, some peaceful like the Catholic Workers who prefer street theater and non-violent resistance, and some here and there who got caught up in the moment. I believe the only serious charges involve three out-of-towners charged a couple of days ago with conspiring to commit terrorism and one guy from the Northwest burbs charged yesterday with conspiracy to commit terrorism. The police haven't revealed if the charges against the local man are connected with the charges against the original three, but there are similarities in the charges.
Attorneys for those charged and some fellow activists are claiming a combination Keystone Cops scenario and frame-up by the Chicago police. They say that the police mistook beer-making equipment and beer bottles for a Molotov cocktail lab. Some protesters say the arrests were solely intended to intimidate them. Sure, that's possible, but based on what I've read, it appears that the police may have quite a bit of information accumulated in a month-long investigation detailing very specific plans to create diversions, and bomb the mayor's house, Obama's campaign headquarters and a police station.
Initially, the police picked up nine people in one apartment in Bridgeport, a Chicago working class neighborhood that was the home of the Daley dynasty. Of nine arrested, six were released after 18 hours in police custody. Reports say that none of those released were questioned or offered explanations for their arrests or their release without charges, and the police are not commenting. My guess is there was an informant or informants in the group, and the police picked up all staying in the apartment to keep the identity of the informant(s) secret. The informant(s) could have been police infiltrators. There was mention that the three were part of an online anarchist activist group, so they were probably being watched, but it's also possible that another protestor got wind of plans for the violence and contacted the police. Very few protestors want or support rioting and murder.
So there could be monumental police bungling involved, a frame-up or some degree of entrapment as I also heard suggested yesterday, but my suspicion is that the police followed up on informant information and they moved in with good reason to do so. If the charges stick, and the accused opt to go to trial, we will get a look at what the police really had, but I think it's naive for other protesters to assume that in the 15,000 or so protesters who showed up, there could not possibly be a few jackasses who planned to engage in violence.
I also noticed that all of those charged are males in their early twenties. No surprise there. Given their age, it would be a terrible shame if they're guilty, because the charges are extremely serious and they will almost certainly come to regret their decisions for the rest of their lives.