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Shut Down the War Marchine!: Thousands in Anti-NATO Rally

Protesters head towards site of NATO negotiations in Chicago, veterans to return medals

- Common Dreams staff

[See Twitter stream and livestream below for live updates.]

Chicago: My kind of town? Thousands of protesters marched in a sweltering Chicago today from downtown Chicago to near the site of the NATO summit at McCormick Place to call for an end to the NATO war machine.

The Coalition Against NATO-G8, which has spearheaded the march and protests, calls for an end to NATO's war agenda.  The group expected at least 10,000 to join the march.

The final number in the march may well double that, and some protesters report that the police numbers seem to equal the number of protesters.

Veterans have returned their medals at the end of the march, throwing them to the ground, and giving powerful reasons, as @OccupyChicago is documenting:

"I'm giving these medals back to the 1/3rd of women in the military who are sexually assaulted. I'm sorry. " - War Veteran
"I'm sorry to the 30,000 Iraq and Afgani civilians killed." - War Veteran
"These medals are a symbol of control. I will not hold on to these lies of heroism." - War Veterans

Explaining why the veterans were retuning their medals, Iraq Veterans Against the War previously wrote: "We were awarded these medals for serving in the Global War on Terror, a war based on lies and failed polices. This endless war has killed hundreds of thousands, stripped the humanity of all involved, and drained our communities of trillions of dollars, diverting funds from schools, clinics, libraries, and other public goods."

Iraq Veterans Against the War’s Aaron Hughes, one of the veterans who will be returning his medals, spoke to Democracy Now! this week and said, "A decade-long war, what have we been doing? ... There’s a real moral disconnect between the idea that our military can build a democracy and the idea that our military is trained and designed to control, dominate and kill people."

Thousands of peace activists are also in the march. “I'm here to protest NATO, which I feel is the enforcement arm of the ruling 1 per cent — of the capitalist 1 per cent,” protester John Schraufnagel told the Associated Press.

The focus of the NATO meet, which began today, will be the forces in Afghanistan.

The official march to McCormick Place has ended. Now @OccupyChicago reports that "chaos" and clashes between police have broken out, with some protesters being beaten with billy clubs, and possible sightings of the LRAD, or sound cannon.

Timcast is livestreaming the event:

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Video from Al Jazeera: Afghanistan to top NATO agenda

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