Friday's march and rally in Chicago, which kicked off a weekend of protests against the NATO summit there, did not rise to the level of chaos seen at past gatherings of world leaders such as the G8 or WTO, but it did portend a rambunctious weekend for the city.
Protesters marched through downtown streets, stopping traffic but not, for the most part, clashing with police. There was just enough of a chaotic element in the crowd to suggest bigger disruptions might take place over the weekend, when the protest and the summit both really get going. One protester scaled a monument and tore down a NATO banner, and as you can see from the ABC video, police reacted swiftly to arrest him as protesters tried to block them:
According to The Chicago Tribune:
The rally was far from the angry, violent protests seen at other gatherings of world leaders. The National Nurses United rally featured people dressed like Buddy the Elf and dancing to Motown music. At one point, former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, an Occupy activist who has been at the movement's forefront, had to stop and teach the crowd how to sing protest songs.
But an afternoon rally at Daley plaza did draw more than 2,000 people, several hundred of whom marched through the city's streets after. And that's during a work day, with the bulk of the protest action planned for Saturday and Sunday. The Washington Post's Annie Gowen has a good preview of what's expected for the weekend. Occupy Congress, which tweeted some photos of closed city streets and phalanxes of police on Friday, shared this eerie photo of a closed and empty downtown freeway:
Police gathered downtown to keep protesters inside the Loop, where streets were closed:
But most of the crowd stayed in front of the rally's main stage:
If you're in Chicago this weekend, plan accordingly.