The tension in Chicago ahead of the protests was palpable, weighing on everything like the creep of a shadow, or a looming storm clouds predicts something ominous. The media was concerted in rendering protests as the enemy and something to be feared. It had come to violence the night before in Bridgeport when a protester was punched by a man for walking across his lawn. Despite more than a hundred police officers, a number witnessing the incident, the man wasn’t arrested. Likewise the media framed the police officers as protectors who would save the city from “those protesting hippies and malcontents.”
Police superintendent Terry McCarthy urged his officers to exercise the utmost restraint while talk show hosts around the city made sport of beating protesters. John Howell, the former-country music DJ remarked on AM560 that he was “thinking of having a counter-protest for police brutality. Beat ‘em harder.”
The morning hosts on WLS giggled about references to police assaults against antiwar protesters in 1968 during the Democratic national Convention. The city was indeed on edge, and the media was only too eager to lead them along that razor’s edge.
Lost in all of this, of course was the demand the protesters carried.Lost was the message that the NATO member nations represented fully 70% of global defense expenditures.Greek andSpanish economies, both NATO coalition members, had imposed severe austerity policies as their economies struggled with record high unemployment.At a time when public programs were being defunded, education budgets cut, pensions slashed and the world economy struggling, the media and public should have been in concert demanding greater transparency from the summit. The violent rhetoric merely diverted the public’s right to know how their money was being spent and by whom, and whether wars were being conducted illegitimately and for the profits of a select few.
The lack of disinterest by the public, and their willingness to assail or impugn those demanding answers and accountability from their apparently elected officials was disturbing. To many chimped along with the media in some primitivist mockery of the protesters, and almost joyed in some tribalist sexualism threats of violence.
Just before dawn there was another knock at Eva’s door. She hadn’t slept a wink. She hadn’t even attempted. There was no use. Feeling lost and alone in the quiet empty house, she nurse a pot of thick black coffee, thinking about jack and little Jeffrey. Morris was at her feet, draped across them. The old dog was snoring lightly.
Eva went to the door to find the scraggliest pair she’d ever seen, each cradling a laptop covered in plastic in their arms. If she didn’t love them so, and hadn’t known them from the start of the Occupy Movement, she might have felt a little nervous finding these two on her doorstep at any hour. It was drizzling again, they were both wet. Instead she hugged them both and drew them quickly into the house.
His name was Blaze, at least that’s how anyone and everyone knew him. He was dressed as, well, as an apocalyptic skateboarder, was as close a description as Eva could muster. Painfully skinny, his arms and bare shins covered in tattoos, he hardly looked the part of an expert computer hacker. Covered with self-trimmed greasy blond hair and numerous piercings Blaze had this excitable fire in his eyes, as if he might erupt with this pent-up energy all at once. Beside him was Rebel Rose. Rose was every bit as hyper as her lover, an orphaned kid who had grown up on the street, fending for herself. With a caring, eager spirit, he might have turned out much worse, if a couple of tattoos and piercing to match Blaze was the worst she could do. Instead she was digging a life from the muck of a tragic early life, finding beauty in the world despite, and finding a cause in the social justice Occupy promised. Together they appeared like a rebel couple going either to a punk concert or to a brawl in an alley. At any given moment both seemed equally likely.
“That’s for coming over,” unable to stifle a yawn.
“We heard what happened to Jack and its bullshit,” said Blaze.
“Yeah, Bullshit,” Rose echoed with the same frenetic energy.
“So anyway, I found the…”
“We found,” Rose interrupted.
“I found,” he asserted, “ the site Jack supposedly had up.”
“Yeah,” said Rose, “before the pigs took it down!”
“How did you do it?” Eva followed them into the dining room.
Blaze already had his laptop open and booting-up. He laid it down on the table and clapped his hands together as the computer came on at last, like some back alley evil genius. He tapped a couple of keys and did a swirling motion across the mouse pad and hit enter. A web page came up instantly. He left clicked and swung the cursor to “Source” and a daunting page of script and code appeared.
“I downloaded the site. If you know what to look for you can find out all kinds of shit about the person who made this. I wrote down what I found out, just with a basic search.”
Blaze reached into his pants, fishing for something. Rose groaned when he pulled a piece of paper out..
“What? If the cops hassled us, besides, its fucking raining, and my nuts are dry.” He handed the paper to Eva but she refused. “What do you want to know about this asshole?”
“Who he is, for one?” asked Eva.
Blaze started to answer. Rose cut him off. “”he’s a fucking mercenary!”
“Yep. His real name is Ryan Carrera, not Angelo,” said Rose.
Blaze butted in. “Gets better. He set up three cellphone accounts, one for this Angelo prick, one for Ryan Carrera and…”
“Blaze finished the thought. “The last one in Jack’s name.”
“Oh my god,” Eva gasped.
“We found all these calls to a number we couldn’t hack into. It was all encrypted and shit, but it goes to Koffer Industries.
“ALEC,” said Eva.
“Now who at Koffer industries would have a seriously encrypted phone? The marketing manager? No. The mailroom guy? Again No…”
“Get to it, Blaze,” Eva was losing patience.
“It has to be either those two brothers, Tom and Jeremy Koffer.”
“And since Tom seems like the biggest asshole between the two of them, my guess is Tom.” Rose grinned triumphantly. “How was that?”
“Like Sherlock fucking Holmes!”
“Naw,” said Rose. “More like Agatha Christie. I like that bitch!”
So then what was Tom Koffer doing mixed up in all of this, Eva wondered. And what was the connection between him and this Angelo, or Carrera or whoever? How did Jack figure in all of this and what was the end game. After Rebel Rose and Blaze left she pulled out a piece of paper and pen and began to scribble a diagram, The Protest, Occupy Chicago, Carrera, Koffer and Jack. She stared at it for an hour, unable to make those connections amount to anything.
She needed sleep, if only for an hour. Eva put her head down and softly said Jack’s name. It was the last thing she remembered before exhaustion got the better of her.
Downtown a hundred or so activists marched on city hall, filling and Occupying the sidewalk along La Salle Street. It was only the latest assertion in an effort to stop the epidemic of foreclosure evictions in Chicago. Illinois had the third highest rate of evictions in the nation, a practice that targeted the poor and working poor unequally. In an economy that still had not created enough jobs to employ all those through out of their livelihoods amid a financial crisis that was not of their doing, it hardly seemed moral. Only those who exalted money to the status of state religion could find excuse for such inhuman practices.