Organizers calling for giving health care a greater priority than military spending, used the NATO ministers meeting to draw protesters from the Occupy movement for a march on the Old Ravenswood home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this afternoon.
Gathering at the Irving Park CTA Brown Line station starting at 10A, the protesters broke into small groups that filtered through the North Center neighborhood for a noon picnic at California and Irving Park Road in Horner Park. Protesters, media, observers and police mixed with each other under the trees while musicians played songs of protest and speakers talked about the dire state of health care in the country.
It was almost idyllic.
There were a number of different groups and messages in the protests including a group that appeared to be supportive of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. The theme of the protest was health care reform.
Then, after gathering most of their litter, the protesters moved north in the park toward Montrose Ave.
Police closed the street as protesters moved east along Montrose. Inside shops along the way patrons took cell photos and store owners came to their entry-ways to watch as the protest moved along. Protesters entered some shops to leave flyers explaining the protest to owners and customers while vehicles on the route were left with flyers under their wipers.
At Hermitage Street, the protesters turned south till they reached Emanuel’s home in the 4200 block.
The large group of protesters joined a smaller group that had gone directly to the mayor’s home from the Irving Park CTA Brown Line.
There they blocked the street from about 2 till about 6P. A large group of protesters dispersed at about 3P, with a smaller group of protesters threatening to keep vigil in the parkway and the street.
Police presence throughout the day was heavy, especially at the home of Emanuel. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told press outside Emanuel’s home there were 15 arrests associated with NATO protests so far, but that the march on Emanuel’s home had no associated arrests.
19th District Police Commander John Kenny told The Bulldog “I think they got their message across.” He noted that the Ravenswood march had been peaceful. Kenny estimated there were up to 2,000 protesters participating.
Neighbors came walking by to watch the dwindling protest, with one neighbor watching from their second story porch overlooking Hermitage two doors from the mayor’s home.
When the protesters voluntarily broke up at about 6P, a lone protester waited across from the mayor’s home. Emanuel came out of the house at about 6.15P to shake the hands of about a dozen officers guarding his home. As the mayor offered the officers water, the protester crossed the street yelling “Rahm!” But he was stopped from approaching the mayor by three uniformed officers.
The protester, a minister from Providence, RI, said he had hoped to talk to the mayor about the health care situation. He said he hoped to have a word with the mayor if he waited.
A few minutes later the mayor and Amy Rule entered a black SUV to attend a dinner downtown. The minister was not given a chance to talk to the mayor. He was last seen waiting outside the mayor’s home as darkness fell.
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