Monday, 27 April 2009: a small but determined group of our coalition demonstrators assembled on the public sidewalk south of the Field Museum, at the point where Boeing shareholders had to pass to attend their annual meeting.
Despite powerful gusts of wind, we held up the striking banner and placard used last year, this time in full view of shareholders arriving in taxis, vans, and limousines. Various protesters, including renowned mystery novelist and civil libertarian Sara Paretsky, handed out fliers. By my count, at least two and possibly three dozen of these strong indictments of Boeing’s role in the torture renditions must have made their way into the meeting in the hands of shareholders.
ACLU, with our agreement, had notified the Chicago Police Department that we would be present on the sidewalk without need of a permit to exercise our constitutionally protected right of expression. ACLU attorney Khadine Bennett was present to monitor the event.
Boeing security guards, including one who masqueraded last year as a Chicago Park District official, came up to the boundary between us and “their” territory but merely took video and still photos of us – thereby failing to intimidate anybody. Most significantly, the Chicago police officers present kept their distance and did not, as last year, herd us into a distant “First Amendment Zone,” far from the Boeing visitors.
In short, we scored a victory for the First Amendment and got our message to some of Boeing’s owners. The frosting on the cake was the Appeals Court decision the very next day.
Unfortunately, my photos did not turn out very well, though I have some video of the Boeing security personnel (not exactly a rainbow diversity crowd, by the way). A reporter from the new Medill news service took numerous photos and promised to email them to me but so far has not done so.
Thanks to everyone who joined us and helped us.