Protests dwindle in Chicago as NATO summit concludes
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Anti-war protests in Chicago dwindled on Monday to a few hundred people at the headquarters of U.S. defense contractor Boeing and President Barack Obama's re-election headquarters as the two-day summit of the NATO military alliance ended.
Between 200 and 300 demonstrators, some throwing paper planes, gathered in a festive atmosphere at airplane maker Boeing. The turnout was a fraction of the thousands who attended a march on Sunday where dozens were arrested and a number of protesters and police injured during fierce clashes.
Attendance at a week of anti-NATO demonstrations was less than organizers expected. Only two of the rallies drew numbers into the thousands and one of those relied heavily on hundreds of nurses visiting for a convention.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said arrests for the week were roughly 93 people, including some 45 people during the clashes on Sunday.
A lawyers' group defending the protesters said more than 60 were arrested on Sunday and two dozen injured by police using batons on demonstrators who had been ordered to leave.
Occupy Chicago, the local chapter of the loose-knit anti-Wall Street Occupy movement, had promised to shut down Boeing headquarters on Monday, which it called "NATO's war machine."
"There's absolutely nothing that could happen in the streets at a protest that holds a candle to the death and destruction caused by NATO to families and communities all around the world," said Rachel Perrotta of Occupy Chicago.
The demonstrators gathered only briefly outside Boeing's building and then moved on.
They then marched to Obama's re-election headquarters in a 41-story office building near the city's lakefront where some sang and danced and others called upon the Democratic incumbent to return to his roots as a community organizer.
A protester with a megaphone told the crowd in front of the Obama headquarters: "What I would like to say to Barack Obama is that ... 20 years ago, you would have been on the streets with us ... You are a traitor."
Asked about the demonstrations at a news conference concluding the NATO summit, Obama said they had a right to assemble and express their views.
He praised the Chicago police, saying: "Chicago's finest did a great job under significant pressure and a lot of scrutiny."
Some downtown Chicago businesses remained closed on Monday.
(Additional reporting by Andrew Stern, Ann Saphir and Mary Wisniewski; Writing by Eric Johnson; Editing by Greg McCune and Eric Beech)
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