Rachael Perrotta Occupy Press Team

Violence at the hands of the state

Violence at the Hands of the State

Download audio file  16 May 2012, 17:38

Interview with Rachael Perrotta, an Activist with Occupy Chicago and a Member of the Occupy Chicago Press Team.

Can you tell our listeners a little bit about what’s going on in Chicago regarding policy brutality, intimidation and the upcoming demonstrations on the NATO summit?

The city of Chicago is running a classic fear mongering campaign. People were coming to town, not to cause trouble, but to stand up against the war and violence of NATO. Recently a group of people in a car who have come from out of town were pulled over. The police are here to intimidate and potentially to harm people who are peacefully demonstrating. People who are coming to town right now are experience a phenomenon that’s nothing new to many people in Chicago: the police are at war with many Chicago communities. In fact, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution against torture, not because they’re a liberal body, but because the police of Chicago torture people. It cost the city millions of lawsuits.

What do you mean by tortures exactly?

For over 10 or 15 years here in this city during the interrogations police would electrocute people, beat people. And as I’ve said the defendants want millions of dollars from the city of Chicago because the police were so violent.

What are the police methods they’re using to intimidate people?

There’s very heavy police presence in all of our actions and events. Today Occupy Chicago has not had one violent interaction with anybody in this entire city. The police are the ones with projectile weapons, the police are the ones with chemical weapons. Demonstrators are here to peacefully speak out against NATO. And we think that the city of Chicago and the Chicago police department are completely out of line in the way they’ve been treating peaceful demonstrators and that’s giving the city a black eye.

Don’t you think by going to such an extreme that they’re provoking the response?

I have myself participated in a number of mass-demonstrations. And the only violence I have ever seen in the streets has been at the hands of the police attacking protestors. We’re going to see here in Chicago an example of a militarized police stay, again much … in Afghanistan or Syria face at the hands of NATO. 

Have you been joined by protestors that were supposed to arrive in Chicago for the G-8?

We’ve already seen about 150-200 out-of-town protestors arrive in Chicago, they began arriving at midday.

Are you aware of the debate that’s going to be going on between NATO and protestors on Thursday?

Yes, I am.

I talked to Rick Rosoff yesterday. He said you may be expecting more than 10 000 protestors. What are your feelings on the figures?

It’s so hard to predict numbers. If these protests are going to be huge, it’s not going to be because of out-of-towners, it’s going to be because of Chicago …. There’re already over 6 million people in this area of Chicago in the suburbs. And that’s why we’ve seen this campaign to vilify protestors and to make protests seem dangerous and violent because the Chicago government does not want these people n the street, but nevertheless we’re ready to put our bodies on the line to stand up for those around the world who are being tortured and terrified by NATO.

Can you tell us a little bit about your tactics?

Occupy Chicago seeks to elevate the struggles of our communities to the international level by showing that the money spent by NATO should really stay here in Chicago, in the US to keep our schools open, to keep our clinics open, to make sure that job programs are happening. So that’s sort of our main message that NATO is bad for the world and the NATO summit is bad for Chicago.  

I’ve heard that corporate sponsors have out together 37 million dollars, I believe that is, just for the PR. A lot of schoolbooks could be bought. And a lot of teachers’ salaries could be paid, don’t you agree.

It’s disgusting that so much money is being spent to support an organization that’s so focused on war and death. I can tell you that right now, in the streets of Chicago people are rallying at high-school that’s supposed to be shut down and they’re doing that to show that money needs to stay here for education and not go oversees for NATO’s war and death. So it’s sort of campaign we’re doing to really tight together all the desperate issues in our city under the heading of “Monet for Chicago, not for NATO”.  And so many people and organizations have invested something for this summit, when in fact nothing happens. All of it goes on in conference calls, government meetings. This is a big show that has no purpose and is absolutely destructive to our city and needs of our people.

Why this school is being closed down?

NATO’s manual is absolutely dedicated to destroying our public services: closing schools, firing teachers, it’s also privatizing a lot of institutions, including educational institutions. We say that education should stay public and community involvement and community support is absolutely essential for strong education.

There’s a shortage of schools actually in the Chicago area.

Definitely. Community schools are being decimated not only by neglect and lack of funding, but also by the politicians to say that it’s ok to close them down.


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