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Chicago police, protesters battle at site of NATO meeting

Two men accused of plotting to use bombs at summit

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Police clashed with demonstrators protesting the NATO summit during a march through Chicago’s downtown streets Sunday. Thousands protested peacefully earlier in the day.

CHICAGO - Police clashed with scores of protesters Sunday after more than 2,000 demonstrators marched peacefully to the edge of the NATO summit where President Obama is meeting with world leaders.

Protesters shouting “Shut down NATO’’ threw bottles at officers wearing riot helmets and wielding batons. A city permit allowed protesters to march until 4:15 p.m. About 30 minutes after that, police began forcibly dispersing the crowd by driving the demonstrators from streets near the McCormick Place convention center, where the summit convened.

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The demonstrators, chanting and carrying signs, expressed an array of grievances, including opposition to NATO forces in Afghanistan, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, economic inequities, and domestic budget cuts.

In Boston, a small group of Occupy protestors rallied in support of the Chicago demonstrators.

The Chicago march began several hours after activists hacked the city’s website and prosecutors announced the filing of charges against two more men accused of planning to disrupt the North Atlantic Treaty Organization gathering with homemade bombs.

Charged Sunday were Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, and Mark Neiweem, 28, both of Chicago, said Anita Alvarez, the Cook County state’s attorney. She announced charges against three men from out of state Saturday.

“While the cases that were charged in court today arose from related investigations, the two defendants are not charged with any involvement in the terrorist case from yesterday, and today’s cases are separate matters,’’ Alvarez said in a press statement.

The three out-of-state men charged Saturday were accused of making Molotov cocktails to hurl at the president’s reelection campaign headquarters in Chicago; at the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff; and at financial institutions and police stations, according to a statement issued by Alvarez and Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Defendants were identified as Brent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla.; Jared Chase, 27, originally from Keene, N.H.; and Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Bond was set for $1.5 million for each of the men.

During the demonstration, more than two dozen military veterans appeared on a stage with the summit site as a backdrop to renounce the medals they received for their service.

“The military handed out cheap tokens like this to soldiers and service members to fill the void where their conscience used to be,’’ said Greg Miller, who identified himself as an Army veteran, as he tossed a Global War on Terrorism Medal and a National Defense Medal from the stage.

A block from where Miller spoke, the police crackdown began when about 20 police officers riding bicycles and wearing helmets, backed by scores of officers wearing body armor and wielding batons, blocked the north end of the procession.

Parked nearby were six empty Chicago Transit Authority buses. The route display on one bus flashed, “Chicago is my kind of town.’’

At least 18 people have been arrested since May 14, when eight protesters attempted to gain access to Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters, said Officer Robert Perez, a police spokesman.

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