By Mary Wisniewski and Ann Saphir
CHICAGO May 21 Anti-war protesters staged a
peaceful march on the headquarters of U.S. defense contractor
Boeing in Chicago on Monday after several days of demonstrations
during a meeting of NATO leaders.
Between 200 and 300 demonstrators, some throwing paper
planes, gathered in a festive atmosphere that contrasted with
fierce clashes with police that led to dozens of arrests and a
number of injuries on Sunday.
Occupy Chicago, the local chapter of the loose-knit
anti-Wall Street Occupy movement, had promised to shut down
Boeing Co's headquarters, which it called "NATO's war
machine," and demanded the alliance stop military operations
around the world.
"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.
A Boeing spokesman said most of the 500 employees had been
urged to stay home and work remotely. Metal barricades protected
ground-level windows at the headquarters building, which was
guarded by police and security guards.
"We want people to be safe. The office is open today though
we've encouraged people to work remotely from home," said Boeing
spokesman John Dern.
Police said they arrested 45 protesters on Sunday, most of
them in a melee at the conclusion of a largely peaceful march by
3,000 protesters to the edge of a security zone around the NATO
summit site. Four police officers had minor injuries.
A lawyers' group defending the protesters said more than 60
were arrested and two dozen injured by police using batons on
protesters who had been ordered to leave.
One protester sustained a head wound requiring 10 stitches,
another suffered a broken collarbone, and a third had teeth
knocked out, said Kris Hermes of the group National Lawyers
Guild. He denied police allegations that protesters faked
injuries by pouring red paint on themselves.
Police defended their tactics, saying the permit for the
rally and march had expired, and the streets needed to cleared.
Officers were also defending themselves from assaults by
protesters, Police Chief Garry McCarthy said.
The Occupy movement, which sprung up last year in New York
and other U.S. cities to protest against the unfair distribution
of wealth between rich and poor, had been planning
demonstrations in Chicago for several months.
But several officials in the city said the number of
protesters arriving in Chicago to protest during the two-day
NATO summit had been lower than many expected.
One reason may have been the decision to relocate a summit
of the G8 leaders, held on Friday and Saturday, from Chicago to
the presidential retreat at Camp David just north of Washington.
Some downtown Chicago businesses remained closed on Monday,
the final day of the summit.