The Chicago police had no particular love for the protesters. In fact, their supreme effort was to curtail and disrupt the protests by any means at their disposal, both legal and in the vast gray equivocations between legal and illegal. Already this whole time the Chicago police had proven their intent on doing just that, but they drew the line on murder. Still, there was talk about how to capitalize on the car bomb and weapons believed to be coming up from Indiana. Some wondered aloud about the advantage linking them to the protests, knowing full well in the current frenzied media climate that merely the official insinuation of something insidious by the protesters would be emblazoned upon the headlines.
There was an old Jewish proverb about a man who told a lie about another man. His penance was to climb the tallest hill with a sack of goose feather and through them to the wind. What this had to do with the lie, he asked the rabbi, who replied, the feathers are your lie, now go and retrieve them all. It was of course an impossible thing to do, but that was the state of the media, which the authorities only understood too well. Once the lie had been cast to the media, the truth would remain the ultimate casualty. They would have until word came from the Indiana State Police about the arrests at the farm. For his part, Big John Bohannon was there to make sure everyone got that part of the story right.
The top brass of the Chicago Police department at first were at first slow to react after the call by Joe Rand, who to his credit finally for once did something against his own personal interests. It was natural that he gave just enough, but held back much of the scheme until he received a satisfactory amount of immunity. When word came from Indiana, the police moved swiftly, while keeping all of this as quiet as possible. Koffer’s hired hit men were detained and arrested quietly as they entered a checkpoint near the Summit location at the McCormick Place convention center. Far from the semi-watchful eyes of the media, both men were quickly taken into custody and whisked away.
The protest grew and swelled, becoming louder and more demanding. The marchers were obstinate in the face of an increasingly hostile and intimidating force. The sun stiffened and grew maddening, bringing a new variable to the emotion of the day. Preoccupied with control and the ultimate submission of the protesters-as if the demonstration was merely a passing fancy. The heat served to incubate their hostility as they sweltered under their gear and uniforms. The demonstrators, by contrast had come for community, not in riot gear with helmets and shields, or with helicopters intelligence and guns, but in tennis shoes, sandals and shorts.
Angelo was waiting for a text to one of the fraudulent accounts set up in Jack’s name that the gunmen were in place. He and Jack slipped into the protest just beginning to cross the river from the warehouse loft on Cermak. The message from the Indiana boys was well over due already. He felt the tension mounting in his chest as instinct told him something was clearly wrong. But Angelo was a soldier, and no one had given the order to abort the mission. He still had Jack. The police still considered him a fugitive. The gun he’d planted in the pack jack carried would guarantee mission success, even if the others failed.
The protests moved in two parts. A group marched south from Grant Park, while the main body, perhaps two thousand strong once they reached the heart of Chinatown, continued east towards McCormick place, flanked by hundreds of police. When they finally converged, according to police estimates, their numbers would be close to five thousand.
Among the protesters, a shadowy group which had come to embody violence, at least as far as the media was concerned, called the Black Bloc kept a close watch over their two dozen or so numbers, often linking arms, as much for safety as for solidarity. John Cody of WBBM had inquired to an activist off the record about the Black Bloc a few days before. “I hear they are coming to tear up the city?” he asked.
Truth of it was, the Black Bloc was hardly a gang of hooligans intent on violence. Instead they were more a tactic, a counterbalance to the heavy-handed tactics of the police who were more concerned with enforcing statutes than upholding constitutional law. The Black Bloc was, in spirit represented the embodiment of Malcolm X’s “Kill that dog” sentiment. “if a man uses a dog to keep you from what is yours, kill that dog!”
The ideological opposite of fascist sensibilities, the Black Bloc were easy to infiltrate, and there was certainly a well established history of that by police. The two studied and circled one another like opposing wolves, testing each other’s weakness and strengths, neither shy of clashing. In Oakland California, police Captain Howard Jordan’s officers easily infiltrated the group, bragging that it was possible to “direct them to do something that we want them to do.” During the famous prank call in which embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker believed he was speaking with David Koch Walker revealed he was considering planting troublemakers among the peaceful protesters occupying the state capital.
A stage had been erected at the southwest corner of Michigan and Cermak, opposite a One Price Cleaners. Thousands filled the intersection. It was here the police drew their battle lines. Their motives w ere obvious, their riot gear and drawn night sticks explicit. They were the blunt end, the brutal manifestation of a particular political perspective, and nothing more. The myth of protecting the social order was a cover to the insidious and sad manifestation of what America had become. No one in that crowd had any illusions about that, and in their heart of hearts, neither did many of the police present that day. TThey knew well they were holding the line for banksters and paid-for politicians, like Joe Rand, who slobbered at the idea of raiding their pensions, stealing their social security and denying them benefits.
Most of the Black Bloc group were collected just west of the intersection, better than a hundred yards from the stage where the veterans were speaking. That seemed where the fight was likely to happen. They knew what was about to happen, even as most of the demostrators listened intently to the speeches a half a block away.
To tears and pained applause Lance Corporal Scott Olsen fought emotion, “Today I have my Global War on Terror Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal, National Defense Medal and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. These medals, once upon a time, made me feel good about what I was doing . I don’t want these anymore!”
They could hardly be heard back across the intersection, and there were ominous warnings of things to come. A line of riot police had moved astride the median. Behind the protest several ranks moved into formation. The time was at hand. The police were going to war.
Angelo couldn’t wait any longer. Something had gone terribly wrong with the plan. He also knew enough of police tactics to know that a crackdown was imminent. He had taken hold of Jack’s elbow, trying to figure the next move, to analyze what had gone wrong. Jack could see that Angelo felt just as trapped as he did. He couldn’t continue this any longer and turned abruptly. There was a line of police a few yards away. It was time to call Angelo’s bluff.
“It’s over, man,” he said.
Angelo’s eyes were filled with the murderous desperation of a cornered man. He slid the pack from his shoulder and reached inside, wrapping his hand around the weapon there.
“I decide when this is over.”
“I know everything. Other people know.”
“You don’t know shit.” He nodded to the pack. “Go ahead. Go for the gun. Do it. Shoot me. You want to.”
Jack conceded it was a tempting proposition. For what Angelo had done to his family, it almost seemed justified. But Jack was just as trapped as Angelo. He could hardly abandon the gun for anyone to find, and if the police discovered it in his possession…jack threw out his arms, raising his hands.
“They find me, they find you too.”
Angelo released his hold on the gun. He’d handle this another way…