Anti-war protest at Obama's Chicago campaign headquarters

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2012 8:54 PM
Anti-war protest at Obama's Chicago campaign headquarters

By Mary Wisniewski and Eric Johnson

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A small group of anti-war demonstrators staged a peaceful "die in" on Thursday at President Barack Obama's election campaign headquarters to demand an end to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and unmanned drone aircraft attacks overseas.

Despite calling ahead, some of the roughly 50 protesters said they were unable to deliver a letter to the Obama campaign calling for the United States to leave NATO and its "violent mission of protecting the 1 percent in the global economy who represent 99 percent of corporate wealth in the world."

The ninety-nine percent slogan has been the signature of the anti-Wall Street Occupy movement, which says one percent of the population holds too much economic wealth.

The Obama campaign did not respond to requests for comment about the protest. It was the second small protest at Obama's campaign headquarters this week in the run-up to a NATO summit.

A demonstration on Monday led to four arrests when protesters refused to leave the high-rise building.

There was a strong police presence at the event, although they were not in riot gear and were mostly on bicycles.

Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy, who was at the protest, said: "Everything's going very well. They're protesting peacefully and we're facilitating that."

"We are here speaking out against war and militarism. We are calling for NATO to be dissolved," Leah Bolger, 54, from Corvallis, Oregon, said on Thursday. She wore a shirt with a dove on the front and "I hate war" written on the back.

Amid a carnival atmosphere on a warm, sunny day in the Midwestern city, about 10 protesters pretended to be killed by a cardboard drone aircraft painted silver and held aloft by a demonstrator who also provided sound effects. The protesters' bodies were then outlined with pink chalk.

The killing of suspected militants, including American citizens overseas, by U.S. drones has been criticized by human rights and civil liberties groups.

Two Swedish tourists who looked on said they were thrilled to see a real U.S. protest. Protesters then moved on to the Canadian and German consulates.

The crowd swelled to around 100 outside the Canadian consulate as it was joined by demonstrators from a separate pro-environment protest, most of them on bikes and towing a guitar-playing folk singer on a wheeled platform.

At the Canadian consulate protesters poured a mixture of molasses, corn syrup and cocoa powder out of a mock oil pipeline onto eight protesters who lay prone on the ground while the crowd chanted "No blood for oil! No blood for oil!"

Canada and Germany both have troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO force in the war-torn country. The military alliance's strategy in Afghanistan will be the main agenda item for the two-day NATO summit, which begins on Sunday.

Chicago authorities are bracing for large protests during the summit but so far they have been sparse, and peaceful.

(Writing By Nick Carey; editing by Greg McCune and Todd Eastham)