Things Heating Up While Police Grapple With Protesters at NATO Summit

CHICAGO –  Thousands of protesters marched Sunday outside the NATO summit on Afghanistan, as authorities scrambled to intercept alleged plots against the Chicago gathering and investigate other disruptions. Police say 18 people have been arrested over the past week, according to CBS Chicago. Not included in that count are four people arrested on suspicions of two separate terrorist plots who had plans to use Molotov cocktails during the summit, according to police. The outnumbered officers fought back with truncheons, and people on both sides threw punches. As police reinforcements moved in, the pack of violent protesters fled. That march was only one piece of the dizzying set of challenges law enforcement were dealing with as they policed the international gathering. Two more individuals were arrested over the weekend and accused of threatening the NATO conference in Chicago, bringing the total number to five. Hacker group Anonymous was also reportedly claiming responsibility for a disruption to the city of Chicago’s website.

Footage captured on the ground in downtown Chicago depicts high tensions and frequent clashes between protesters and police during NATO Summit demonstrations, including several incidents that devolve into violence.

A video released by NBC Chicago shows one protester, then several trying to impede a police van’s movement with their bodies, then being pushed down the street when the vehicle continues moving forward.

The  latest arrests and heavy police presence were used as a rallying cry by demonstrators Sunday, as lead protester Andy Thayer called on Obama to call off the cops.

“We are holding you, President Obama and Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel personally responsible for any violence,” he said. “If you value the election this November, you’ll tell your officers to stand down.”  Police Supt. Garry McCarthy earlier said the cases of all five individuals are connected, though a statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said the latest arrests merely “arose from related investigations.”

In addition, officials were investigating after the websites for the city of Chicago and its police department stopped working. A group that calls itself Anonymous posted a statement claiming to have taken the police site out of commission as the NATO summit began Sunday.

Officials have not yet confirmed whether the incident is a cyber attack.

“We are aware of the potential issue of the City of Chicago website and are working with the appropriate federal authorities to address the situation,” Office Of Emergency Management and Communications spokesman Pete Scales said earlier Sunday.

Increasingly tense clashes Saturday night tested police, who used bicycles to barricade streets and horseback officers to coax them in different directions. Eighteen people were arrested, McCarthy said. Organizers of Sunday’s rally had initially predicted tens of thousands of protesters this weekend.

But that was when the G-8 summit also was scheduled to be in Chicago. Earlier this year, Obama moved the Group of 8 economic meeting to Camp David, the secluded retreat in rural Maryland.

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