Busloads of protesters expected in Chicago
May 16 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- At least 17 busloads of protesters are expected in Chicago by Thursday for the NATO summit, which will take place May 20-21 at McCormick Place.
As the out of town demonstrators began arriving in the city Wednesday, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy held his first daily briefing.
"At this point, we think we're off to a good, successful start, and are actually very excited to get this done," he said.
McCarthy said that there have been four protests this week with a total of 300 people. Police have arrested 12 people. McCarthy said 10 were acts of civil disobedience and two were batteries on police officers.
Danny Johnson, 31, of Los Angeles is facing felony charges after allegedly punching a police officer. He's just one protester from out of state.
Dozens of others, as seen in pictures and videos posted on Twitter, are making their way to Chicago from New York, Portland and California.
The first busloads arrived from New York Wednesday night. Sixteen more buses are expected Thursday.
"As they were getting off the bus, you just feel the energy swelling inside," Anne Schultz, Occupy Rogers Park.
"We are very happy and excited to be here to make our voice heard to NATO and the city of Chicago," said Shen Tong, 99% Solidarity.
McCarthy has a message for them.
"Come. Feel free to express your First Amendment right to free speech," he said. "We are going to provide a safe environment to ensure that that happens. We're going to provide a safe environment for the protesters and the people who live in this city, and we are going to be intolerant of criminal behavior."
Earlier in the day, Occupy Chicago held a rally to focus on banks and foreclosures.
"We really believe all grievances are connected," said protester Emily Reynolds. "It's all connected to this global structure where people are disempowered from their governments."
The protesters who arrived Wednesday night each signed a non-violence pledge.
"Our message is bigger than the adherence to violence," said Maria Fehlig, registered nurse. "Nurses don't condone that obviously, we are here to heal America."
"I would say peaceful protest is the primary goal. People will always act up. That is the not the message we want to get across here," said Thorin Caristo, Occupy Wall Street protester.
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