This past weekend, the N.A.T.O. summit came to Chicago to discuss the future of the war in Afghanistan among other poignant topics. Friday's National Nurses United rally on Daley Plaza featuring Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, The Nightwatchman) and Tim McIlrath (Rise Against) performing was one of many causes for much pre-N.A.T.O. anxiety for law enforcement. However, there was an interesting dynamic that prevailed during Friday’s protest. That being the average attendee was somewhere in the 40-something range, female and hardly malevolent. Not exactly Tom Morello or Tim McIlrath’s usual demographic, nor the type known for chucking Molotov cocktails and reeking havoc. In hindsight, it seems hard to believe that Rahm Emmanual and Chicago's city officials tried to pull the plug on what amounted to overall peaceful event.
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The two hour rally kicked off with a brief skit, in which members of the G8 summit were portrayed as gambling willy-nilly with their nations’ wellbeing as stakes. The parody was then abruptly interrupted by members of the Nurses org (clad in red shirts and Robin Hood hats) who then led the crowd into an impromptu song & dance flash mob thingy to the tune of “Dancing in the Street” w/ the lyrics switched to “Taxing Wall Street”.
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Following the scene reminiscent of a something straight outta Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Blues Brothers, the mood was a bit more serious with speakers such as Tim Carpenter (Progressive Democrats), Shen Tong (an exiled Chinese student activist and participant in 1989’s Tiananmen Square protests) and political activist Tom Hayden among others. The overall theme was support and advocacy for a “Robin Hood” tax, which would initiate a 5% tax on Wall Street transactions. The revenue derived would then be funneled into public education and healthcare programs.
|Tax the Fucking Rich Already|
The rally concluded with a performance by Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Rise Against singer Tim McIlrath. Things got a little tense three songs into the five song set as the power/sound went out. To the performers and crowd, it seemed CPD had pulled the plug on the event (possibly due to Morello’s smattering of obscenities). Within a minute, it was apparent it was only a slight technical difficulty and the show rolled on to a peaceful conclusion with Morello inviting the crowd to share the stage. Interestingly enough, rather than the public, the on-stage group who swarmed was comprised mostly of the vulture-like members of the media vying for the best shot at the expense of the crowd.
|Tom Hayden and Tim McIlrath singing This Land is Your Land...|
After the event, it was reported that a group of 500 or more protestors took to Michigan Avenue, resulting in traffic snafus and at least one arrest.