Thousands of people protested loudly but peacefully under the watchful eye of police at a downtown Chicago plaza on Friday, May 18, 2012, chanting mostly about economic issues that have little to do with the summit of the NATO military alliance this weekend. Police estimated about 2,500 people took part in the largest protest so far in a week of demonstrations before President Barack Obama and representatives from some 60 countries arrive for the two-day summit to discuss the war in Afghanistan and other international security issues.
The only incident was a minor scuffle between police and protesters when a man climbed a bridge tower to rip down a banner advertising the NATO summit. "Wake up! Wake up! We want freedom, freedom! Tell those dirty-assed bankers we don't need 'em, need 'em!" protesters chanted, stressing a theme of opposition to big banks that has been championed by the Anti-Wall Street Occupy movement.
The largest planned protest was expected on Sunday in Chicago, when the two-day NATO summit begins.