I met this kid the day after he got his skull cracked open by Chicago’s finest. I won’t give out his name, but can reveal that he was sincere and not the least bit threatening. To his credit, he turned out to protest Boeing with staples sticking out of his head. He was wearing the same bloodstained shirt when I met him wandering around on the near west side.
Unfortunately, that shirt had an Anarchy symbol on it, so naturally the press descended. He fended off several interviewers before giving in. The cameraman trained his lense on the shirt’s red lettering before panning up in time to catch the first question. I’m sure the kid never intended this, but he was no doubt regarded as a spokesperson for the throng of rebels reportedly descending on the city. As much as I liked him, he was the posterchild for all of the fearmongering leading up to the NATO summit.
I saw numerous examples of the news media selecting people of similar appearance for interviews. It was clear they were looking for protesters who fit the prevailing narrative that all hell was breaking loose. By all appearances the media’s framing of this event was unquestioningly adopted by most people. Businesses, including the one where I work, shut down before a single protester hit the streets. The unfortuneates forced to venture into the city during the summit were warned to blend in. There were reports of businessmen being doused in urine and even the possibility of a warehouse containing a stockpile of feces.
The reporting and the fear it inspired justified brutal police tactics and the militarization of the city. Though security was no doubt required, the cavalier attitude about the use of violence was disturbing.