About 75 protesters marched Thursday afternoon from President Barack Obama’s re-election headquarters to three consulates of countries that belong to NATO, protesting the alliance’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan and other military action.
As the demonstration began about noon, protesters lined up on a sidewalk near 130 E. Randolph Street as about a dozen Chicago police officers cordoned off Prudential Plaza by standing behind their bicycles.
Tighe Barry stood in the middle of that line, holding two yard sticks connected to a cardboard model of a drone to protest drone strikes by the United States, which he said have killed hundreds of innocent people.
“Barack Obama, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning president, needs to come clean,” said Barry, from Washington, D.C. “He’s not for peace or for ending these outdated wars.”
The protesters then staged what they called a “die-in,” in which Barry made explosion noises and pretended to kill about a dozen of the demonstrators with his model drone, as he shouted: “Who are these people? They look like they’re doing something bad from 3,000 feet. Whoops, killed some innocent people. Oh well!”
As the 12 protesters lay on the ground, others drew outlines of their bodies on the sidewalk with pink chalk. Most of the protesters belonged to Code Pink, which describes itself as a “women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement.”
“We are representing the 99 percent, the people in the United States who believe violence is not a way to protect the world,” Wright shouted into a megaphone. “In the past 10 years, NATO has killed thousands of Afghans in the U.S.-sponsored war in Afghanistan.”
The group then marched north along Michigan Avenue, stopping to protest at the Canadian consulate at 2 Prudential Plaza and, the British consulate at 625 N. Michigan Ave. before ending its nearly mile-long march at the German consulate at 676 N. Michigan Ave.
At each stop, protesters called on the country to withdraw from NATO and denounced the war in Afghanistan.
“As Afghans, we are in contact with people in Afghanistan, and they do not want this war. They have had enough,” said Samira Sayed-Rahman, a member of Afghans for Peace. “Thousands upon thousands of Afghans have been slaughtered in a war that is not benefitting the United States at all.”
Money being spent on the war should instead be directed to solving domestic problems in the U.S., Sayed-Rahman said to the applause of fellow demonstrators.
After the march had ended outside of the German consulate, the protesters gathered for a group photo before listening to an impromptu speech from Tobias Pflueger, a former member of the European parliament from Germany.
“I am happy you are here demonstrating against the war organization NATO,” Pflueger said. “When NATO does wars they kill people and they also kill democracies. We will not allow NATO to kill democracy.”
Pflueger then used a megaphone as he translated a speech from Inge Hoger, a member of the German parliament who first greeted protesters in English by shouting, “I say no to NATO and no to war all over the world!”
“The money that is being spent on this occupation in Afghanistan should be spent on a peaceful solution in Afghanistan,” Pflueger said, translating for Hoger. “Because NATO is a war organization, Germany should pull out of NATO, and NATO should be disbanded.”
There were no arrests or confrontations with police during the 90-minute march.
In fact, when five police officers strayed away from the group by crossing Michigan Avenue a few blocks before scheduled, one of the protesters shouted to them, “Hey guys, this way!” and the officers turned around and followed.
Medea Benjamin, a founder of Code Pink, said that she believes in “civil disobedience arrests” such as the eight that took place earlier this week with a Catholic protest group at the Obama headquarters, but said it was her group’s intent Thursday not to engage police.
“We really wanted it to be peaceful, because we wanted to represent what we want in the world, which is non-violence and peace,” Benjamin said. “We didn’t want any confrontations. The police have been great.”
Later in the afternoon, about 60 bicyclists met several dozen other activists to again protest outside the Canadian Embassy to decry oil exploration and extraction from the nations tar sands.
Chanting "no blood for oil" protestors denounced NATO for pursuing wars over oil and several covered themselves with dark liquid substance
Police on bicycles blocked access to the building where the embassy is located, and a van filled with officers idled a short way up the street.
Protestors lay in the middle of Lake Street as other protestors poured fake oil on them. Police had already blocked traffic at Michigan Avenue and Lake Avenue, allowing the protestors to conduct their demonstration.
Protesters left the oil demonstration and headed west, where about 100 of them gathered on the sidewalk outside the ABC 7 studio at State and Lake streets.
They chanted "This is what democracy looks like" and "This occupation is not leaving," among other chants.
A group of police officers on bicycles formed a wall to keep the crowd on the sidewalk and out of the street.
At Chicago's City Hall late this afternoon, about 10 protesters stood on LaSalle Street and read names of Chicago homicide victims, saying the city should not host NATO "gunslingers" when so many local citizens are dying.
The protesters then attempted to deliver a cardboard casket to the 5th floor of City Hall.
Tribune reporter Matt Walberg contributed.