Oy. I don't know what to expect with NATO. Or the protesters. Or how exactly the 100-some motorcades to and from O'Hare are going to affect traffic. Or all the road closures.
Take a look at some of the road closures here:
Yeah. It's going to be a pain in the butt...literally, from sitting down in a car or on a bus for extended periods of time. And this map doesn't reflect the "rolling closures" on the Kennedy for those motorcades. Making it more difficult is that the dignitaries will be staying at different hotels all around downtown. So, I'm expecting "rolling closures" throughout the entire weekend..yeah. Fun. (Not.) Thank God I take the CTA--even though it means altering my commute on Monday because my usual bus is going to be affected by the closures. I may have to stand on the train, but by golly, I will be able to get to work.
I feel sorry for Metra and South Shore riders though. Some of the stuff seems a bit extreme. It's worse than airline security, for Pete's sake! No liquids, no food, no backpacks, no bags bigger than the size of a brief case, only one bag per person? Sheesh, we can carry more bags onto planes, AND we can take most food through security! The severe measures might be a consequence of the multiple access points on the Metra routes, though. Instead of having a central entrance, people will be getting on and off at various points along the route and so on...but still, no food!
Even though it's a pain in the arse for us, I understand that the Secret Service have helluva job ahead of them. They need to make sure none of the dignitaries get killed in Chicago because it would cause, well, to put it politely, "diplomatic difficulties." Does that help put the inconvenience into perspective? It sort of does, for me.
Some people are afraid that the increased presence of police downtown will make us feel like we're in a police state. I can see that. If all the police were wearing turtle suits, aka full on SWAT armor type things, then that would definitely make me nervous. But more policemen in general...nah, I'm cool with that. More police means that they're more likely to catch problem people before things get out of control, which is perfectly fine by me.
The protesters and the rallies...I'm a little uneasy about it. I'm glad for the freedom of assembly and of speech, but honestly, I wish it wouldn't disrupt traffic so much. There's only a few protests that have city permits, but no doubt there will be more unauthorized protests NOT on this list. Occupy Loop, anyone?
But, I'm going to try to keep a "live and let live" mentality for this weekend. Let them protest, so long they don't trample the flowers in Grant and Millennium Parks, so long they don't trash Buckingham Fountain, so long they don't needlessly block traffic, so long they don't get out of control. All it takes are a few bad eggs hellbent on destruction to cause problems for both us and for peaceful protesters. And that's where a increased police presence comes into play.
The city's and the Secret Service's measures, aside from the super-restricted Metra and South Shore security, seem reasonable. And I can forgive the Secret Service's control freak nature for Metra. Yes, I can forgive them...because I don't ride Metra.
I'm not so sure about some apartment buildings' measures. Some may be reasonable. I read somewhere (where is that dang article?) about a couple of building managers telling people to clear out for the weekend. At least they're not forcing people out of their homes, but taking a vacation over NATO is a bit overkill. We're not going to have a curfew, the city won't be on a lockdown, and we can still get places. Perhaps slowly, but we can still move about downtown.
My building manager, I think, was hoping people would all use the auxiliary entrance where we have a hand scanner, and be able to completely close off the main lobby, essentially not allowing food deliveries or guests to come over. Perhaps he was afraid of the pushback from our rather crabby set of condo owners, so he eventually decided to advise us very strongly that we not organize deliveries or invite guests during NATO-geddon.
Anyway, to answer my question...security is just a tad on the "overkill" side, but is otherwise just about right.
I know there's going to be plenty of opinions that everyone would LOVE to share...so please do comment! I'm interested to see what you think. Even if you just want to rant and rave and get it off your chest. (no personal attacks, no attacking others, mmkay?)
Filed under: misc.