Apparently, there are not many people who oppose the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the war in Afghanistan.
Chicago police estimate that there were less than 2,500 protesters at the largest march on Sunday. Organizers say it was double that number.
Even if we give the protest organizers the benefit of the doubt and say 4,000 people showed up to protest, that is a pathetic showing.
Ten times as many people were at Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs get pummeled this weekend by their crosstown rivals. Several thousand were taking in the beautiful weather on all the lakefront beaches. Another 150,000+ people were in the bars, restaurants and clubs around Wrigleyville/Boystown and Lincoln Park just enjoying life.
So we learned that a heck of a lot more people care about baseball, beaches and booze than protesting NATO and the Afghanistan War.
Keep in mind, this was a protest that was made up of mostly out-of-towners in a city with the capacity to welcome hundreds of thousands of people at a time. Whether by plane, train or car, Chicago is an easy place to get to from around the continent. Yet, a mere 4,000 made it to protest. Pathetic.
And let's not give too much credit here. Anyone who saw the protests in person can attest that half the crowd was media and curious onlookers who were not protesting anything. They were just along for the ride. There may have been as a few as 500 legitimate protesters and there was certainly no unified message.
The chanting and signs were unimaginative. The crowd noise was weak most of the time. And local media spent more time covering the handful of knuckle heads who attacked police than any issues the protest organizers wanted to discuss.
As protests go, this was poorly organized, low on attendance, aimless in message and a waste of everyone's time.
The Chicago police, lead by Supt. Garry McCarthy, did an incredible job of balancing free speech with the safety of everyone involved. Their tactics kept anarchists in check, and avoided any serious property damage. Clearly, they set an example of how to work with protesters at major events.
I will write a separate post later this week to praise local law enforcement officials for the incredible job they did this weekend. For now, I just want to say thank you to all of them who stood in the stifling heat (in full protective gear) for defending our community from out-of-town trouble makers. You all made Chicagoans proud.