NATO Summit: The People's Summit Coverage

 Pat Hunt and Joe Iosbaker Photo by Courtney Ley

Chicago anti-war activists Pat Hunt (left) and Joe Iosbaker
speak at The People’s Summit on May 13. (Courtney Ley) 


Updated: Sunday, May 13, 2012

Although it came to an end Sunday, the message from The People’s Summit will continue to resonate this week as activists prepare to rally on May 20 in Grant Park and march in protest of NATO.

Day two of The People’s Summit ended much as it started the day before, with passionate protesters and curious citizens seeking to discuss the many issues surrounding global supremacy.

Chicago’s Joe Iosbaker, spokesperson for the United National Anti-war Coalition, was present on behalf of activist group CANG8 to address Chicago’s strategic plan for opposing NATO. Joining him were fellow CANG8 leaders Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, and Pat Hunt, co-organizer for the People’s Summit and anti-NATO mass march.

Stemming from one of the first political meetings he ever attended, Iosbaker presented three fundamentals underlying the anti-NATO movement:

  1. Win as much as can be won;
  2. Raise the general consciousness of the people;
  3. Bring forth new fighters and build organizations.

Throughout his talk, he incorporated examples of how he believes issues of warfare have been influential in the past.

“For a President of an empire, an imperial country, losing a war means your party will lose the next election,” he said. “And that’s not because of the people, it’s because of the ruling class.”

He also brought up President Obama’s win in the Democratic Party nomination over Hilary Clinton. With the issue of the Iraq war a prevailing issue in the 2008 presidential election and campaign trail, he asserted that Clinton’s vote for the war made Obama the “anti-war candidate,” even when she was the front-runner with big money.

“The anti-war movement within the democratic party, essentially, defeated Hilary Clinton,” he said. “And I think Barack Obama is aware of that.”

Iosbaker considered the news and social media as another reason for the effectiveness of anti-war movements, mentioning television and YouTube.

“Afghanis have access to this and they’re able to see the protests going on in the U.S., and they know that the people of the United States are not united around these wars,” he said. “Anyone who is strategizing in Iraq or Afghanistan around defeating U.S occupations, they know it’s just a matter of time.”

Iosbaker’s message to be heard is that people hate and will never accept the Imperialist rule the U.S. has over them, whether it’s through commercial control or direct military occupation.

“It’s just a matter of time when the American people get tired of these occupations, get tired of their sons and daughters coming home in sea bags,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time.” – Courtney Ley



Day 2: Abu-Jamal Call Inspires Protestors  

The energy in the South Side warehouse and Occupy headquarters peaked during a conference call with prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose anti-NATO statements caused the crowds to feverishly chant, “Free Mumia!”

Abu-Jamal, a former radio journalist, is serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Amnesty International and other groups have pressed for his release, saying his imprisonment 29 years ago was unjust and occurred during a corrupt judicial process.

The two-day summit, which ended Sunday with several workshops and guest speakers, concluded with a round of applause and a gracious thank you from organizers.

“I couldn’t be more happy with how this all turned out, “ said Dana Cutts, Occupy Chicago Education Committee member and summit organizer.

Joe Lombardo Photo by Brittany Lawler

The People’s Summit speaker Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator
of the United National anti-war coalition. (Photo By Brittany Lawler)

Several summit attendees said they walked away with an eye-opening experience.

“Everyone seems so intent on helping others, “ said Katie Miskell, 20.  “I feel one word.  Inspired.”

Said Colette Robicheaux, 20, a student at the University of Chicago, “This is something I’ve always wanted to be involved in.”

For many, the weekend was not only inspirational but also educational. 

According to activist and supporter Erin Allen, 25, politicians lobby to support the areas of government that they want changed, “but what they want changed is exclusive to what they want.”

Government strategies, policies and actions were just some of the many topics summit participants seemed to gain a greater understanding.

“These two days here show me the truth is coming to light,” said Lisa Angonese, 50, an Occupy Chicago member.  “I think people are learning more about the issues. We’re [protestors] moving the veil between the government and the people. That’s what I’m getting out of this.”

The summit not only provided attendees with information regarding NATO but also gave them valuable tools to use for next weekend’s protests.

For example, Jeremy Nelson, 21, learned from the "Summit Protest Politics" workshop to remain peaceful, yelling or being aggressive could be considered harassment. 

“Just say something productive,” Nelson said.

Said Miskell, “The intensity of the whole event can bring on violence, but at the end of the day we’re here for peace.”

The last session emphasized the long road in store for supporters of the anti-NATO movement. 

Summit Chairperson Sarah Wild described the protestors’ next steps as, “long, hard, but invigorating.” 

The summit came to an end for some around 6 p.m.  For others, it was a group consensus that there was more work to be done.

Said Allen, “This is just the beginning.” -- Brittany Lawler and Madeline Szrom



Day 2: Morning Session


The People's Summit Photo by Lauren Klopmeyer

The People's Summit drew protestors from all over the country who
are preparing for the upcoming NATO summit protest. (Photo by Lauren Klopmeyer) 

As the city prepares for next weekend's NATO summit, the Occupy Chicago movement and other protest groups gathered Sunday for the second day of The People’s Summit at the Occupy headquarters on the city’s South Side.

The two-day summit features speakers and workshops for those interested in joining the Occupy movement in various rallies throughout the week .

The counter-summit was organized by Occupy Chicago and The Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda, also known as CANG8. The presentations and speakers were established to educate communities about war and poverty and to promote alternatives to NATO and G8.

One keynote speaker, Suraia Sahar, is a member of Afghans for Peace and traveled from Toronto to be a part of the week’s activities. She outlined the goals of those gathering and participating in Occupy and CANG8 events.

“One is creating more awareness about the issues," she said. "Second is creating war solidarity with other like-minded activists and people; and also to really pressure our governments, our leaders and let them know we are unhappy with what’s going on and try to pressure them for more positive change.”

One of Chicago’s main concerns is safety as past NATO Summits have brought violent protests and damage.

Eric Ruder, one of the organizers of CANG8 and the People’s Summit, emphasized the plans for a peaceful march but said he feels that most of the talk about violence were coming from NATO and Chicago Police. He cited instances were threats were made by police toward people who were arriving in Chicago with the plan to march. He insisted that the Occupy rallies will remain peaceful.

 “Our plan is for a permitted, legal mass march that will assert our right to protest, because for us we think that standing to express our dissent at a time when they are here will send a message around the world that actually the people of the United States disagree with the government of the United States,” he said.

Occupy Chicago is planning on participating in marches and rallies throughout the next week leading up to their scheduled mass march next Sunday. On Monday,  they will march with the Chicago Teacher’s Union to defend Dyett High School, a Chicago Public School that is in danger of being closed down. – Lauren Klopmeyer

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