Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Late yesterday, with media well into non-stop Super Tuesday coverage, Mr. Obama announced that he’s moving the May G8 conference from Chicago to Camp David. His administration says this decision has nothing to do with the announced plans of Occupy and related movements, from around the world, to protest the joint G8 / NATO conferences. I am highly skeptical of that claim. I think Obama blinked in the face of Occupiers. You know, that movement that’s over, old news, failed, finished. As you’ll read, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn’t find out about the change until shortly before it was announced.
Via OWS News:
The Group of 8 Summit … was supposed to convene in Chicago this May. For months, Occupy Chicago, international anti-war groups, Anonymous, and hundreds of allies have publicly planned to shut it down. Now, only two months before the meeting is scheduled to begin, …
Obama is moving the assembly … to the Camp David presidential compound, … one of the most secure facilities in the world. The Chicago Tribune reports that summit organizers are ‘stunned’ by the news.
… The Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) and Occupy Chicago issued the following statement:
‘… The leaders of the 1% are moving because of the overwhelming resistance to the NATO/G8 war and poverty agenda in Chicago.’ …
Read more about the spring planning in two of my earlier posts: The Rahm Emanuel way, and the Occupy way, to get ready for the Chicago G8 / NATO Summit and Preparing for the Spring Occupation.
More from the OWS News article:
While officials claim the decision to move the G8 was not related to fear of protesters, Chicago police have admitted to expecting tens of thousands to show up in Chicago this May, and have been stocking up on ‘less lethal’ weapons to use against protesters. Following Occupy Chicago’s Call of Action and Adbuster’s call for 50,000 people to come to Chicago, the City Council granted Chicago Mayor Emanuel extraordinary powers to make security decisions and suppress free speech during the NATO and G8 summits. …
Chicago will still host NATO allies and partners on May 20 and 21 … , and will remain a focal point for the Occupy movement this spring and beyond. Everyone is still encouraged to go to Chicago this May for a major mobilization, or organize actions locally! Occupy DC and Occupiers in Maryland have also begun to consider their response to the moving of the G8 to their area.
Coinciding with the G8 and NATO summits in the U.S., the Occupy movement, trade unions, organizations of migrant workers and the unemployed, environmentalists, youth, and anti-war protesters throughout Europe have also called for days of action from May 17th to 19th centered in Frankfurt, Germany … .
While Obama may think he can hide world leaders from dissent or shield them from our protest, our message will be heard clearly across the world – including Camp David. Those responsible for the economic crisis, widespread inequality, and manufactured austerity – the G8, NATO, EU, IMF – will be held accountable, wherever they choose to meet. From Chicago to Camp David to Frankfurt, the #GlobalSpring is upon us.
As a HuffPo piece put it, the change of venue was “abrupt.”
It was an unusually late location change for a large and highly scripted international summit and came with little explanation from the White House. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — … who personally lobbied President Barack Obama to hold the summit in Chicago — was informed only hours before the official announcement.
White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor simply said that Camp David … was a setting that would allow for more intimate discussions among the G-8 leaders. He said security and the possibility of protests were not factors in the decision … .
The White House said the G-8 summit would take place May 18-19.
So did Obama and company just figure out that “more intimate discussions” were needed for the G8 (but not for NATO, apparently)? Or was there some sort of revelation in the Oval Office: The G8-ers couldn’t possibly feel intimate enough in a big city setting. We must move this intimate gathering to the intimate Camp David compound, where we can make intimate decisions about the world economy. Just us G8-ers, surrounded by authorized personnel only, and no chance of any pesky protestors disturbing our intimacy.
I wonder if Mr. Emanuel is relieved or annoyed? The Occupy and related plans will go ahead, regarding the NATO conference. And it sounds as if DC, Maryland and others have begun strategizing about Camp David possibilities. The truth is, G8-ers would be protected from protestors wherever they meet. The difference, of course, is that it will be much more difficult to get people, including media, to from-a-distance Camp David actions than to a protest-opportunity-rich Chicago setting.
By the way, did you hear about the recent passage of H.R. 347 and S.B. 1794, the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011”? The Senate previously passed it, and on February 27, the House followed, with a 388 to 3 vote. You can search for it at Thomas.gov. There’s a petition, calling on Obama to veto the legislation, at Change.org:
… This legislation puts new limitations in place that charge protesters with federal crimes if they protest on federal grounds, at any location in which someone protected by the Secret Service (the President, a former President, a Presidential candidate, or any number of domestic or international figures), or at any location sanctioned as being of ‘national significance’ — including the Democratic and Republican conventions … .
Do think, just maybe, that a gathering of G8-ers or NATO-ers might fall under such a law?
(Poster via OWS News)