As NATO officials were wrapping up their summit in Chicago, anti-NATO protesters marched to Boeing's corporate headquarters Monday morning before turning their attention to President Obama's campaign headquarters.
CBS Station WBBM reports the demonstrators were protesting the company's involvement in building aircraft and missiles for the U.S. military. The protesters say Boeing is a "war machine that produces war machines."
The protest began at 9 a.m. at Union Park. Around 10:45 a.m., a couple hundred protesters began marching toward Boeing's headquarters.
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Police officers and security personnel had taken their places outside Boeing at 11 a.m. WBBM correspondent Marissa Bailey reports a Coast Guard boat passed by along the Chicago River's South Branch.
Bomb-sniffing dogs were also seen in front of the building in which Boeing occupies the top dozen floors. The company is open for business Monday, but most employees were reportedly working from home.
When protesters arrived around 11:20 a.m., many laid down in the street in a "die-in" against Boeing.
One onlooker said of the protest group, "My family reunions are bigger than this."
So far there have been no arrests at Monday's protests according to Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
One protester, Sam, told WBBM correspondent Roseanne Tellez his issues against Boeing were not just about building machines for the military.
"I wonder why, despite making $9.7 billion in profit over the past couple of years, they've laid off 14,682 workers and raised executive pay 31 percent," Sam said. "When they moved [to Chicago] from Seattle in 2001, they got a 20-year break from property taxes. That cost our city $6 billion. This year we've closed 12 mental health clinics that housed people that are now likely homeless."
Sam said this was his first march during the NATO Summit. "I like this, because it's pointed, and it's directed at Boeing, and I have an issue with Boeing. NATO draws a lot more diffuse energy. I think this is pointed at a specific target, and I like that."
A company spokesman said he thinks it is unfortunate that many protesters think Boeing creates war machines.
"We wish and hope that people understand what we do. We understand that they are upset with us for whatever reason," said spokesman John Dern. "Having said that, to the extent that we have a role in protecting our troops - protecting the people who are protecting all of us - that's something we're proud of and our employees are proud of."
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