The rabidly right-wing radio station WIND am560 in began what was otherwise a glorious day with a warning about the upcoming protests. The host, a former country music disc jockey teased a segment by saying that people going to work in the Loop should dress down to “avoid a beat down” from protesters. As Angelo stood in from of the Chicago Board of Trade building at La Salle and Jackson, he could help but smile at the circus the summit had taken on.
Most folks were more concerned about the price of gas, which had come down in recent weeks after tensions with Iran subsided. They were still near the peak price they had reached during the Bush Administration, part of a suite of financial insults precipitating the collapse of 2008. For the poor and working class, that burden resonated far more strongly in their lives than protesters and summits.
Obama’s equivocating support of Gay Marriage would dominate the headlines and talk shows through the day. Chicagoans would continue to be inundated with fresh security updates, confusion over street and building closures and fears of impending doom. But these w ere all diversions, political sleight of hand to obscure the real issue about the summit, and that was foreign policy and the fate of the world was being decided in secret, hidden from the press and elected and accountable legislators. Vast sums of money would bartered away on weapons and planned-for wars while their populations sank further and further into despair.
Angelo was hardly political. His perspective in all of this, on wars and war profiteering, human rights abuses, foreign relations, drug wars came from seeing all of it first hand. He knew well what was being invoked upon Chicago was a purposeful strategy. First, the state and the opposing political parties had a vested interest in delegitimizing the Occupy movement, and then in destroying it. Non-partisan, impressively large and resilient, it was decidedly non-partisan, and a wild card that couldn’t be tolerated ahead of the presidential elections. As for the security, the truth was, even if there wasn’t a single damned protester in Chicago, the security for multiple heads of state and foreign military and business leaders meeting in virtual secret would still be just as omnipresent and oppressive.
Across the street, in front of the Bank of America building, a place Occupy had dubbed “headquarters” the previous autumn, a lone protester stood idly as the city came to dramatic life. The sky was a pristine blue, and warmer in the channels of golden sunlight to the east.There were more police on the street, most sitting idle and bored. Around Federal buildings was a notable increase in for hire armed security guards, stoically surveying the rush of business people filling the sidewalks, clustered in donut shops and the ubiquitous Starbucks on nearly every corner.
Angelo knew the lone protester. His name was Tony Morris, an honest middle-aged black man who hadn’t been able to find work in better than six months. Best with his hands, Tony had come to Occupy imbued with a sense of injustice. He had fallen on tougher and tougher times, never once surrendering or compromising his decency. Just a few days ago, apologizing profusely, he’d bummed a ten spot off Angelo for high blood pressure medicine.
Angelo checked his watch. He’d been up most of the night preparing things. By now the police should have been at Jack’s house. Parked down the block, Angelo watched him leave, saying goodbye to his family before making the call. They would find the Facebook links in the manufactured email, with rants and threats of violence, and a vague promise that ”soon something was coming that would cause the masses to rise up and burn down the corporations.” The media would follow soon enough, eager for a sensational story, and all too ready to convict Jack Murphy long before he ever made it to trial, which if the plan went as it should, would never happen. The bartender would corroborate all of it, so there could be no question of Jack’s guilt. His wife, devastated by all of this would all but abandon him.
It was a simple thing to destroy a man, particularly in the digital age, and the age of the 24 hour news cycle. They were both puerile and ravenous, devouring reputations and favoring the trite and obsequious. Angelo had only to light the fire and point an anonymous finger, and the rest worked itself out. The hardest part would be in managing this until the protest. He needed to find Jack before the police did, and become his sanctuary, guiding him right up to his lamentable end.
Angelo crossed the street against traffic and waved to Tony as he passed. He couldn’t know that he too was being watched…