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NATO protests continue in Chicago; 2 more face terrorism charges

May 20, 2012|By Matt Pearce
  • Michael Barczynski of Erie, Pa., carries a homemade drone in Chicago's Grant Park on Sunday during a protest targeting the NATO summit and city healthcare cuts.
Michael Barczynski of Erie, Pa., carries a homemade drone in Chicago's… (Michael Tercha / Chicago…)

This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

It’s been a busy 24 hours in Chicago as protests against the NATO summit continued for a second day. Two more activists faced terror-related charges on Sunday, a police van apparently struck a protester Saturday night, and activists said police drew guns on a group of citizen journalists.

Activists charged

Police said Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, of Chicago, "had been planning/conspiring with more than two other individuals in the building of explosives, including molotov cocktails which were to be used/detonated during the NATO summit," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Mark Neiweem, 28 — whom authorities also believe to be from Chicago — "engaged in dialogue with a subject, during which time he provided same subject with a list of ingredients that are used in the construction of an explosive device," according to a police report cited by the Tribune. He was charged with attempted possession of explosive/incendiary devices.

Prosecutors are expected to reveal more in a court appearance later Sunday. Police wouldn’t say whether the pair had any connection to the three men charged Saturday with making Molotov cocktails to attack President Obama’s campaign headquarters and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emaunel’s home.

Authorities said the three who were charged Saturday bought fuel at a gas station, poured it into beer bottles and cut up bandannas to serve as fuses. Their defense attorneys countered that it was actually two undercover officers who brought the Molotov cocktails to the charged men’s apartment.

The charges come three weeks after authorities arrested five self-described anarchists with attempting to blow up an Ohio bridge on May Day, coinciding with major leftist rallies in the United States.

Police van amid crowd

A police van apparently struck a protester as it drove through a crowd on the Jackson Street Bridge in Chicago on Saturday night, according to a video report on YouTube.

The video’s caption, whose details could not be immediately confirmed, identified the van as Chicago Police van number 6751.

Other footage showed protesters moving to stand in front of the van as it drove through the crowd, with some slapping it with their hands.

The protester was taken away by ambulance. Police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton said Sunday that the van's driver was punched through the window and that one of its tires was slashed, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Other YouTube footage shows a man clinging to the front of a police van — apparently a different one — kicking his feet as the van drives forward without slowing until another protester runs forward and possibly attempts to slash its right-rear tire.  Further footage from NBC Chicago appears to show the man moving away from the van safely.

'Guns drawn'

The Occupy movement has been a flashpoint between aggressive policing and free speech over the past year, and those tensions have continued with the NATO protests in Chicago.

On Saturday night, activists said, about 12 police vehicles stopped a car filled with independent journalists including Tim Pool, who runs a prominent Occupy Wall Street videostream, Luke Rudkowksi and Geoffrey Shively.

YouTube footage shows officers stopping the car and then later driving away, with one journalist saying the police had shut off his live video feed. Rudkowski tweeted, “Had guns drawn on me searched and interrogated while handcuffed.”

“Homeland Security wanted to know what i was wearing who i was with and where i was staying,” Rudkowski also tweeted,  adding, “this is freaky.”

“Also CPD (Chicago Police Department) slammed hard drives against running boards 4 or 5 times each,” Shively tweeted

Neither Chicago police, Rudkowski nor Pool immediately responded to requests for comment.

For the record, 5:20 p.m. May 20: An earlier version of this post said Sunday was the second day of the NATO summit. It was the first day of the summit but the second day of protests. 

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