Jesse Jackson Sr. challenges NATO costs to homeland social programs

At approximately 10:30 AM on Sunday, May 20, 2012, under a canopy tent in what would be the left-field section behind third base of the field surrounding the Petrillo Bandshell in downtown Chicago, a clear and coherent message was delivered to the press by Chris Geovanis and Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.

Ms. Geovanis said that she was from the Chicago Indymedia Collective. The following is part of the mission statement on a website: "...Indymedia is a grassroots network committed to using media production and distribution as tools for promoting social and economic justice."

The following is from part of the mission statement of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition website: "Our mission is to protect, defend, and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields, and to promote peace and justice around the world..."

Long before the crowd of over 10,000 arrived, Chris Geovanis told the small gathering under the white canopy that she wanted to be unequivocally clear that the protestors were committed to non-violence. Any violence that occurred would be driven by the authorities. From the Obama administration to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, from the FBI to the local police, there was an occupying army of shock troops in Chicago that brought out everything short of chemical weapons. It was meant to shock, so she was encouraging protestors and everyone else not to be surprised. Authorities were setting it up for more tax dollars to be used for inevitable Civil Rights violations — to which she said to source back to the National Lawyers’ Guild regarding harassment, raids, and using vehicles as weapons against the people.

Anyone downtown on those days could see it. On the way to Grant Park, I witnessed a walled line-up of Streets and Sanitation trucks along the north side of the Art Institute facing Michigan Avenue on Monroe Street. Joking with the drivers about them hopefully not using what I thought were garbage trucks on the protestors (which I told them included myself), they joked back, “Not yet…” and we all had a “good” laugh. After the march, with the temperature in the 90s, the new addition of a snow plow led the line-up in that same location.

After Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke, Ms. Geovanis added that she hoped not to see what was expected. That the non-stop, relentless, fear-mongering spin and propagandizing of NATO, including to the students of the Chicago Public Schools, resulted in a goal of discouraging people from coming out and thus exacerbated the potential for violence.

On the drive up coming from the south on the Dan Ryan (I-90/94), one who hypothetically drove at 70 miles per hour on the almost open road would be quickly passed by any others going much faster, with not one law enforcement vehicle in sight. Downtown Chicago was a ghost town with a weird, otherworldly aura from less people present than usual but many more law enforcement vehicles.

Reverend Jesse Jackson reiterated that “we march in a disciplined and non-violent way,” invoking the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. He strongly encouraged if not almost pleaded for the media gathered to not let everything get hijacked by any acts of provocation. The message was that the United States needed to spend money on jobs, security, and many other things here at home.

He said in the U.S. “we make and shoot the most guns.” We kill each other with the highest homicide rate in the world. We’ve subsidized the wealth of the few, and we need to go another way. At this time we have a world stage in which to focus on too much war budget and not enough investment. What Martin Luther King stood for was the same as the Occupy Movement - focusing on fighting poverty at home versus a war in Vietnam. He said that we can still make a similar case today. He asked if we were more secure in Iraq now; we need to question which way NATO is going. When asked, in a short question and answer period following the comments, about money going to Israel and related to possible actions toward Iran, Reverend Jackson replied that we cannot use war to get peace.

For those who still think that the Occupy Movement and other actions similar to the protests over NATO still do not have a coherent message, consider perhaps the following as a clear, collective message: “Let’s begin to think about spending some of the money spent on war in the United States and the world instead on (fill in the blank).” It is natural not “incoherent” that the blank gets filled in differently from a diversity of viewpoints: healthcare, jobs, education, schools, food security, mental health services, the environment, infrastructure, security at home… The basic, intelligible message is this: How about investing in OTHER THAN WAR for a real change for our planet?

MOCKING MAJOR MEDIA HEADLINE: Horrifying taunting of troops at NATO protest! As I was marching with the crowd past billy-clubbed and helmeted law enforcement personnel from the state of Illinois, a group of twenty-somethings around our labor group started good-naturedly chanting, “Take off the riot gear – you’re sexy underneath!” The larger surrounding group momentarily joined in, including women older than the twenty-somethings. I didn’t check to see if any smiles were cracked under the helmet shields, but I’m betting a few were.

MOCKING MAJOR MEDIA HEADLINE: Unintelligible message sent by radical group!

In the park before the march, one of the groups that advocates for Food Not Bombs served the best vegan tortilla I’ve ever eaten (black beans and add your choice of lettuce, salsa, and hot chilies). It was free for all who wanted one. Donations to a gallon jug container were optional. What a “radical,” “incoherent” message they practiced as well as preached: feed hungry people.


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