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Protesters take aim at Boeing during NATO summit

CHICAGO (MCT) — A few hundred protesters marched toward Boeing Corp.’s headquarters west of the Loop Monday chanting, “We’re gonna beat back the Boeing attack.”

They arrived at the building at the Chicago River and began shouting, “Shame on Boeing! Shame on Boeing!” The activists were making paper planes and writing anti-war messages on them.

Others were sitting, giving short speeches about why they had come.

“Boeing is closed today, but it will be open tomorrow. We will stand and we will fight!” one activist said.

The protesters had gathered before 9 a.m. in Union Park before setting out for downtown under the watchful eyes of helmeted police on bikes and Superintendent Garry McCarthy. McCarthy has been a highly visible presence at the various NATO protests, defending the actions of his officers and sending a clear message they have his support.

Boeing allowed its employees to work from home Monday, as did other downtown businesses.

Also Monday, McCarthy gave an update on an officer who was stabbed in the leg on Sunday while trying to disperse marchers. The officer was released from the hospital and back on the line Sunday night. McCarthy said all the officers who were injured are in good shape, including one who was punched while driving a van through a crowd of demonstrators Saturday night near Willis Tower.

“It’s very difficult … I’m asking people to go into harm’s way, to stand there and be assaulted,” he said.

McCarthy estimated that police arrested 50 people after Sunday’s march onto McCormick Place, where the world’s leaders are meeting to discuss Afghanistan and other foreign policy matters.

McCarthy’s presence Monday overshadowed the marcher’s mission as news cameras left the protesters and gathered around him to ask questions.

“I expect peaceful assembly today,” said McCarthy, a theme he has said throughout the days of demonstrations. “I think those that wanted to be arrested have been and they have sent their message. Really this event has been no big deal. We handle this kind of thing on a typical Sunday.”

Andy Thayer, a leader with the Coalition Against NATO/G8, said protesters consider Boeing’s directive allowing employees to work from home a small victory. Still, he said, protesters planned to march to draw attention for their cause. “Boeing represents the worse of the worse of the 1 percent,” Thayer said. “These institutions, Boeing and G8 are so loathed … they decided to shut down for the day.”

Thayer said he expected Monday’s protest to be peaceful and faulted Chicago police for the scuffles that occurred on Sunday. “Things went well during the march,” he said. “The actions of Garry McCarthy and the CPD (were) totally irresponsible. There was no need for police to wade in.”

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