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Protesters hold peaceful rally at Obama headquarters

Monday, May 21, 2012
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Anti-NATO protesters held a peaceful rally outside the Chicago campaign headquarters of U.S. President Barack Obama as he met with world leaders at McCormick Place on Monday.

The two-day NATO summit ended Monday afternoon.

About 100 to 150 people gathered at Union Park on the city's Near West Side Monday morning and walked west to the Boeing headquarters. Monday's protest in front of Boeing was more of a celebration, protesters say, because while the aerospace company is open, employees were given the option to stay home Monday. Many of them did.

"We're really happy to be able to shut them down because they're the corporate end of NATO. They make airplanes and missiles," Blaise Sewell, protester, said.

The group handed out a verbal fact sheet on the aerospace company. Some of the protesters made paper airplanes.

"I think this is a start. I believe in democracy. If people come together we can make a change," Sam Spitz, protester, said.

"The fact remains that there are an awful lot of people in this country that are fed up. Otherwise Occupy wouldn't' have touched the vein it touched," Mel Packer, protester, said.

The protesters, who do not have a permit, went from the Boeing headquarters to the Obama campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building. They sat down in the street outside that building near Randolph and Michigan.

Police, including Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, are accompanying the peaceful group. Officers outnumbered the protesters.

"We have been doing this on a regular basis. It is not that big of a crowd. This is pretty easily managed by our guys," McCarthy said. "We have an unscheduled protest. We're facilitating the protesters, keeping them safe, and helping them express their First Amendment right to free speech."

One person was arrested Monday during the march. Police say they saw him using a can of spray paint that they felt could be used as a weapon. Officers searched his backpack for other items that could be thrown at officers, which is what led to a melee on Sunday afternoon.

When asked about Sunday's protest that turned violent and in which several officers were injured, McCarthy said "Everybody's OK... One guy, the most significant, got stabbed in the leg. Typical of a Chicago cop, he was back on the line last night."

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