An open invitation:
Come to Chicago
Occupy this/Occupy that!
NATO/G8: May 18-21, 2012
By Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers | The Rag Blog | March 8, 2012
The tiny fraternity of concentrated wealth and power that calls itself the Group of Eight (G8) is meeting in Chicago in mid-May, overlapping with representatives of history’s largest global military cohort, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the gently self-named military behemoth dominated by the U.S.
Heads of state, spooks, foreign ministers and generals, cabinet members and secret operatives, advisors and bureaucrats — the 1% of the 1% — plan to gather in barricaded opulent surroundings while coordinating and conspiring to extend and defend their obscene wealth, to exploit the remaining fossil fuels, natural resources, human labor, and the living planet, to the last drop, and to dominate the people of the global majority.
A 1984-style national security dragnet is descending on the city to attempt to lock Chicago down. Chicago’s Mayor is concocting a culture of fear, suggesting that it is the human resistance to NATO/G8 that represents danger, outside agitators, violence and invasion.
Universities and schools are being urged to close early in May; communities of color are told that this is not their concern; merchants are preparing for assault. In reality, NATO/G8 represents the masters of war; it is they who are the greatest purveyors of violence on this earth.
NATO/G8 will not be alone in Chicago: Occupy’s 99% will gather in a festival of life and peace, joy and justice. Two permitted, family-friendly rallies at the Daley Center and marches for justice, jobs, and peace are scheduled on May 18 and 19 (and perhaps another on May 21). Music, dance, teach-ins, and peoples’ tribunals will overflow the parks and theaters.
We will all be there to open Chicago back up. In the spirit of the Arab Spring and Occupy, the Madison labor struggle, the Pelican Bay hunger strikers, teachers and nurses, the Dream youth, returning veterans against the wars, women insisting on reproductive dignity, foreclosure resistance, LGBTQ equality and, many more, Adbusters, CanG8, CodePink, Portoluz, and others have called for people to come from near and far, armed with their spirit and their creativity, pitching their tents and staking their claims.
We’re excited and you’re invited: Come to Chicago, May 18-May 21. Bring a sleeping bag, and if we have room, you can stay with us on the Southside.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made it entirely clear that he alone will happily host NATO/G8, but that the 99% are decidedly not welcome. He has funding to further arm and mobilize the police and militarize the city; he has announced plans to contain and suppress demonstrators; he has pushed through legislation that restricts and criminalizes free speech and assembly, and requires insurance for public demonstrations; he is issuing a steady stream of pronouncements about Chicago-under-siege from ominous and dangerous outside forces.
But Chicago is big enough for all — it is after all a nuclear-free and cease-fire city, cradle of the Haymarket martyrs and the eight-hour day, labor and peace actions, vast civil rights and immigration rights manifestations, home of Ida B. Wells Barnett, Jane Addams, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Studs Terkel.
The rich and the powerful do gather here, but Chicago is a public space with historic parks, monuments, neighborhoods, and streets for popular mobilizations as well — Chicago belongs to all of us.
We underline the right — the moral duty — to dissent and demonstrate, to resist and to be heard, to participatory (not billionaire-paid-for) democracy. Mayor Emanuel can still change course, and he should; so far he has obstinately and foolishly chosen to frame mid-May solely in military and security terms.
The mayor, not the popular resistance, is creating conditions — once again — for a police riot in Chicago against people who have every intention and every right to assemble peacefully deploying humor and music, art and play, civil disobedience and imagination, to forcefully express rejection of imperial and permanent wars, to challenge racial/ethnic/gender discrimination and hate, to demand justice, education, health care, and peace, women- and gender-dignity, the opportunity for meaningful work and reversing epic income disparities, an end to mass incarceration, and the urgent need to shift course and live differently for the sake of the planet and future generations.
Join us in Chicago in May (or, if you can’t come, act in solidarity — Occupy the suburbs, cities, and communities across the land): stand up for civil and human rights, exercise your voice and be a witness, act up and speak out. Be part of a wave of people power, creative direct non-violent action, and the most vast, determined resistance in memory.
Occupy the future!
Another world is possible!
[William Ayers is Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Bernardine Dohrn is Clinical Associate Professor of Law and Director and founder of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University. Both Ayers and Dohrn were leaders in SDS and the New Left, and were founders of Weatherman and the Weather Underground. This article was also posted at Bill Ayers. Find more articles by and about Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn on The Rag Blog.]