Not in my [daughter’s] backyard, please

My daughter Brook is a Chicago police officer, as is her father and my son-in-law. All three of these folks and I share one precious little boy (my 3-year-old grandson), and so they have asked me to get him out of downtown Chicago for his own protection in May.

Alexander lives with his mother in a downtown Chicago condominium. For some asinine reason, the U.S. government had planned to host the G8 Summit of World Leaders, immediately followed by the NATO Summit, in the highly populated city of Chicago. G8 leaders from the United States, Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the European Union attend the annual meeting of the world’s largest economies. These high-profile meetings have historically attracted massive demonstrations; the 2010 G-20 Summit in Toronto resulted in the largest mass arrest in the history of the entire country of Canada.

Amid concerns over thousands of protesters descending on Chicago this spring, the White House very recently (March 7) announced that the G8 Summit would be moved to the presidential compound at Camp David, Md., which has no-trespassing laws and routinely has extremely high security. I’m not resting easier yet, however, because the NATO Summit is still planned for Chicago immediately following the G8 meetings, and protest petitions in Chicago have not been canceled.

Nor do I find it reassuring that in addition to stepped-up Chicago Police anti-riot practice, the Apartment Building Owners and Managers’ Association of Chicago recently offered a series of seminars for building managers on how best to respond to riots, protests, bomb threats, and arson.

Demonstration groups including Occupy Wall Street offshoots had begun orchestrating events to coincide with the G8 and NATO summits, and anarchist websites buzzed with suggested activities. Camp David is always subjected to heightened security standards and prohibits public demonstrations, and this spring’s G8 Summit won’t come as any exception, which would thwart protesters hoping to picket outside those grounds. Therefore, the option for a mass demonstration remains most likely in the Windy City following the G8 May 18-19 event, at the opening of the NATO event scheduled for May 20-21. So where might we think world protesters will gather? Yep, numerous groups already have petitioned the city for permits to gather.

When the G8 was still scheduled in Chicago, the city was assured that the United States Secret Service would work with the Chicago Police Department to provide security, including escorted motorcades (wow, what a big help, eh?). Transportation to and from Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports was expected to result in as many as 50 street closures per day in differing parts of the city for differing periods of time. More than 100,000 Chicago-area hotel rooms were reserved and, to date, those hotel reservations have not dramatically dropped.

What now? Whisking Alexander out of the city still will be no mean feat in the days before or after the NATO Summit, but I’ll be darned if we’ll leave him downtown with a babysitter while his parents and grandfather work double shifts to protect the city.

The Group of Eight [world leaders] was created in 1975 to allow the heads of the governments of the world’s largest economies to discuss global issues such as energy, food security, health, terrorism, and the environment. Summit locations rotate through the group countries. The last U.S. summit meeting was held at Sea Island, Ga., in 2004. With the addition of the NATO Summit, and the recent popularity of uprisings including Occupy Wall Street, the security logistics of having so many of the world’s powerful leaders in one place at the same time is being referred to as “a security challenge that no American city has ever had to face.”

Did I mention that my daughter is a police officer and her beat is downtown Chicago? It bears repeating because I haven’t felt this much angst since she was an Air Force military police officer stationed at Camp Doha in the Middle East, responsible for base perimeter security during the Iraq war.

And that’s what’s on my mind this week.

What’s new with you? Comments always welcome.

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