In a surprise turnaround, the White House announced Monday afternoon that Chicago won’t be hosting the controversial G-8 summit after all.
It will be held at Camp David instead of Chicago.
The NATO summit will proceed here May 20-21.
City Hall insisted that it was President Obama’s decision — that Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not ask the White House to take the more controversial of the two summits off Chicago’s hands.
One leading demonstrator pledged the protests “will go forward” despite the switch.
The White House issued a terse statement dropping the bombshell shortly before 3 p.m.
“In May, the United States looks forward to hosting the G-8 and NATO summits. To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the president is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
“The president will then welcome NATO allies and partners to his hometown of Chicago for the NATO summit on May 20-21, which will be the premier opportunity this year for the President to continue his efforts to strengthen NATO in order to ensure that the Atlantic Alliance remains the most successful alliance in history, while charting the way forward in Afghanistan.”
The Coalition Against the G-8 said the change won't make much difference - the protests will still go forward, albeit with minor changes:
Andy Thayer, a spokesman for the Coalition Against NATO-G-8, didn’t buy the City Hall spin. He believes that pressure from local business leaders concerned about an international onslaught of protesters convinced the mayor to cut the risk in half.
“There’s been a lot of grumbling from business leaders in the city about what a total pain in the neck this thing would be. [The White House] probably looked at what a mess they were gonna make of the city and decided to move part of it to Camp David,” Thayer said.
“I really think the business community began to lean on Emanuel and Emanuel probably realized he was in over his head.”
Although the economic summit will be held in the secluded environment around Camp David, Thayer stressed that the demonstrations in Chicago “will go forward, but maybe not on the 19th” of May.
“Our protest will go forward because NATO is the military arm of the G-8. NATO has bombed whole countries to smithereens and is currently engaged in the U.S.’s longest war in history,” Thayer said.
“I’d say plenty of people have got tons to be upset with NATO about. If anything, people understood much more readily what NATO was about than G-8, which is more of a shadowy institution in people’s minds.”
As for why the Obama Campaign, er, White House decided to change the venue:
Asked why the G-8 was moved from Chicago to Camp David, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said, “The President felt that Camp David would provide an informal and intimate setting to have a free-flowing discussion with his fellow leaders. He very much looks forward to coming to his hometown for a critically important NATO Summit, as planned.”
The Obama administration and the Emanuel administration apparently under-estimated the hometown opposition to the summit and the fears of rioting that accompanied it.
Yeah, video of riots and stuff burning in the streets doesn't look so good in a Presidential Election Year.
It's a shame both Mayor Emanuel and President Obama aren't more curious about WHY so many people want to come and protest the political face of oligarchy as it makes decisions that sell most of us down the river for the benefit of the few, the powerful and the privileged.