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Protesters declare victory, but say: ‘Our protests will go forward'

Andy Thayer, is a key figure in the upcoming G8 protests and a veteran protestor for many causes, including gay rights and anti-war. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

The NATO summit is two months away and protesters are already declaring victory.

Activists cheered the White House’s announcement Monday that Chicago will no longer host the G-8 summit in May. A NATO summit is still planned for Chicago on May 20-21.

“We’re claiming victory,” said Joe Iosbaker of the Coalition Against NATO/G-8, speaking for that group and Occupy Chicago. “They realized this would be an enormous embarrassment for the Obama administration.”

But no one is calling off the protests.

“Our protest will go forward because NATO is the military arm of the G-8. NATO has bombed whole countries to smithereens and is currently engaged in the U.S.’s longest war in history,” said Andy Thayer, a spokesman for the Coalition Against NATO/G-8.

“I’d say plenty of people have got tons to be upset with NATO about. If anything, people understood much more readily what NATO was about than G-8, which is more of a shadowy institution in people’s minds.”

Protesters originally received parade permits for the G-8 economic summit on May 19. Now they plan to apply for permits to march on the NATO military summit on May 20, he said.

“We’re going to ask the city to adjust our permits to conform to the dates of the summit. If the opening day is the 20th, we will want permits on the 20th,” Iosbaker said.

Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the ACLU will continue to focus on making sure demonstrators who show up for the NATO summit “have their freedom of expression respected.”

The ACLU has sued the Cook County state’s attorney’s office for enforcing the state’s eavesdropping law. On Friday, a Cook County judge declared the law unconstitutional, but an appeal is expected.

Protesters want to record audio and video of officers during the planned demonstrations in May. Currently, it’s illegal to make audio recordings of officers under the eavesdropping law.

Experts say they doubt the court challenges to the law will be sorted out before the NATO summit.