NATO protests shrink as summit wraps up

Protesters shoot silly string and blow bubbles while demonstrating in front of Boeing corporate offices as a part of the NATO summit on Monday in Chicago.

CHICAGO — Demonstrators launched another round of protests Monday in the final hours of the NATO summit, marching through an unusually quiet downtown to the headquarters of Boeing and President Barack Obama’s campaign.

On the second and last day of the international meeting, the demonstrations in the Loop were notably smaller and less confrontational than the weekend protests that drew thousands into the Chicago streets.

Outside Boeing Co.’s headquarters, a relatively small crowd of protesters gathered in the street. Some released red and black balloons and confetti or blew bubbles. Others staged a “die-in,” lying on the ground as if dead.

Boeing’s building was largely deserted Monday because it was among many Chicago companies that told workers to stay home because of the risk of traffic snarls and more protests.

In a statement, protesters seized on that as a victory: “Our call to action shut down the Boeing war machine.”

Occupy Chicago contends tax breaks for the aircraft manufacturer have deprived the state of millions of dollars. The group also objects to Boeing’s role in producing military hardware for the U.S. and its NATO allies.

Illinois leaders see such tax incentives as a way to attract large companies that bring thousands of jobs.

Targeting Boeing Co.’s Chicago office makes symbolic sense: The company is a major defense contractor that makes fighter jets, bombs and missiles.

But the Chicago office is just the headquarters for a much larger operation. The company employs more than 170,000 people across the United States and in 70 countries. Illinois doesn’t even rank in the top eight states in terms of the number of Boeing employees.

Demonstrator Kevin Murphy said he was disappointed with what he called a small and disorganized protest movement. He doubted protesters would change the minds of any of the world leaders at the summit.

Murphy, a farmer from Beaver Dam, Wis., who was marching to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan, said he did not agree with protesters who had clashed with police. Others, he said, were too young to know “what they are talking about.”

“Instead of doing this, they should just vote,” he said.