Chicago will host the G-8 summit, and concurrently the NATO summit in May of this year. The city is preparing for thousands of global participants, and tens of thousands of demonstrators. The G-8 meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations will focus on global economic issues such as fossil fuel and its effect on the environment, and more substantive matters, including the effect on the economy of the Arab spring and plans to deal with uprisings and bloodshed in Syria.
Past G-8 summits, held annually, have included discussion of tighter regulation of the World Wide Web, and of safety issues in nuclear power plants. Membership in the G-8 includes the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The NATO summit will deal with issues related to Afghan war policies. NATO meetings typically draw large crowds of demonstrators opposing actions of the NATO military alliance. In 2009, in Strasbourg France, demonstrators smashed windows and vandalized cars. Three hundred or more were arrested at that time.
There is a long history of protest and terrorism at the G-8 summits as well. In 2005 terrorists blew up trains in the London underground; 52 civilians were killed, with 700 injured. In Seattle 35,000 protestors rioted at a World Trade Organization meeting. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used to quell crowds in the downtown “Battle of Seattle.” Two million dollars in damage was done. In Genoa Italy, in 2001 a riot killed one person and injured hundreds. In 2009, at a G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, demonstrators were met with pepper spray as they threw stones and other objects and rolled garbage bins.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is now making preparations for the guests, and for the demonstrators. Chicago is anxious to display a world leading ambience, particularly in the wake of the failed effort by Chicago to secure the 2016 Olympics.