Wednesday, May 16, 2012
16 Truckloads of Protesters Coming to Chicago for NATO
NEW YORK, NY - They’re here, and more are coming — lots more.
The first major busload of out-of-town anti-NATO protesters arrived in Chicago Wednesday evening.
Sixteen hours after they pulled off from a dark New York street corner at 4 a.m., more than 40 tired but excited Occupy Wall Street activists stepped down onto a leafy Lincoln Park block at 7 p.m. wearing Robin Hood masks.
“It’s been fun to ride with you and I’m proud to march with you all,” Shen Tong, one of the “bus captains” told the occupiers moments before they hit Chicago’s streets.
“Let’s rock and roll!”
The arrival of the bus from a protest that sparked a nationwide movement against “the global one percent” marked the beginning of what is expected to be an influx of protesters for this weekend’s NATO Summit.
An additional 16 buses — funded, like the Occupy Wall Street bus, out of a $218,000 donation from anonymous donors and National Nurses United — are due to arrive in time for Friday’s “Robin Hood Tax” rally from Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Providence and Washington, D.C.
Tong, a student leader of the 1989 Chinese democracy protests in Tiananmen Square who became a tech millionaire after he was exiled to the U.S., predicted 10,000 out-of-town protesters would find their way to Chicago one way or another.
Bearing dozens of cell phones, laptops and other digital devices, Tong and the racially diverse group of protesters used social media to keep in running contact with other buses that have already left Los Angeles and Portland, streaming video from their bus over the Internet.
If the iconic bus of the 1960s counterculture was author Ken Kesey’s fluorescently-painted psychedelic school bus, the Occupiers’ coach, was modern, bland and a little “bougie,” the protesters joked — equipped with DVD screens and WiFi. Kesey’s band of pioneering hippies, the Merry Pranksters, tripped on acid. But these 21st century radicals sat at the back of their bus with laptops, laughing at a YouTube video of a pet cat on LSD.
By the halfway point of their journey, somewhere in Ohio, their bus had become a smelly tangle of sleeping bodies and passionate political debates.
“Like a flea market of ideas,” was how Tong described it.
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