After avoiding downtown most of the week, I ventured into the heart of the Loop -- Chicago's business district -- for a meeting late this afternoon. Besides the constant helicopter presence overhead and the regular sound of police sirens, it feels almost like a regular weekend in the Loop: closed businesses, few cars, and tourists dressed casually.
That is except for the platoon of city, state, and federal police on every corner. I was shocked to see 100 state police officers cordoning the downtown courthouse. They soon moved across the street to surround City Hall. I never saw any protesters in either place.
As I walked further down LaSalle Street, I first heard a small group of protesters yelling something indecipherable. They were followed by just as many Chicago policemen. Perhaps they were headed to a larger gathering.
The bottom line is nothing really special is happening in Chicago today. The most remarkable thing I've noticed is how many people have no compunction about coming right up to an armed police officer and taking pictures. Whenever I stopped to take a snapshot, there were at least five others doing the same thing.
Seeing that amid armed Skynet-style drones, cameras, and many, many cops gives me hope for our country. It shows regular people still know who serves whom and aren't afraid to notice openly when there are large shows of government force.
Paradoxically, it took this meeting of an embattled inter-governmental military organization to prompt this small sign of what an exceptional country this still is.