by Katherine Harbin
CHICAGO, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Over 2,000 people rallied in downtown Chicago Friday to protest the policies of G8 and NATO, organizations who protestors believe value wealth and war over the economic hardships currently faced by ordinary people.
The demonstration came on the first day of the G8 summit, and the day before more than 50 world leaders are scheduled to arrive in Chicago for the NATO Summit on May 20-21.
Chicago police said that between 2,400 and 2,800 demonstrators assembled in Chicago's Daley Plaza for a rally hosted by the group National Nurses United, and that afterwards a few hundred of those participants marched through Chicago streets shouting slogans and waving signs.
For the rally, nurses from all over the United States and even some foreign countries gathered to protest the actions of G8 and NATO, which demonstrators criticized as taking up heavy government funds while ordinary people struggle for access to good healthcare, education and suitable jobs.
On stage and cheered by many Chicagoans passing by, nurses spoke out against the financial austerity measures currently employed by many G8 countries, and proposed instead the implementation of a "Robin Hood" Financial Transaction Tax.
Based on the storybook character of Robin Hood who stole from the rich to give to the poor, the tax would allocate 50 cents from every 100 dollars of trades in stocks, bonds, dividends and other financial transactions to be used in social justice spending.
"We're not asking for a lot we're asking for a little bit to give back to our communities," National Nurses United protestor Roxanne Heizinger told Xinhua about the motivation behind the Robin Hood tax.
"We want healthcare for everyone, problem number one, and then number two is that with the economy right now, Wall Street needs to be taxed - they've been bailed out, and we lost everything," said Mary Lou Ramirez, another nurse at the protest.
Both women came all the way from California to participate in the National Nurses United rally.
Donning Robin Hood-style caps made of green felt and a bright red feather, the nurses alternately applauded speakers, sang protest songs, and danced in the Daley Plaza, as office workers looked on from windows above.
Following the rally, most of the nurses returned to their hotel, but a few hundred attendees from other groups continued protesting and marched from Daley Plaza through the streets of downtown Chicago.
Chicago police stopped the group from passing north of the Chicago River, but demonstrators succeeded in breaking through a police bicycle barricade to walk directly on the street, temporarily stalling traffic.
Despite the disruption, Chicago police said that there were no arrests and the demonstration remained peaceful.
The majority of Friday's protestors additionally plan on participating in a larger demonstration against NATO scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Starting in Chicago's Millennium Park and marching around five miles to the NATO Summit's base at McCormick Convention Center, the demonstration is likely to draw more than 3,000 people, organizers say.