CHICAGO (CBS) – Is there a secret plan to evacuate some residents of Chicago in the event of major trouble during the NATO summit next month? CBS 2 has uncovered some evidence that there is. It comes from the Milwaukee area branch of the American Red Cross.
CBS 2 News has obtained a copy of a Red Cross e-mail sent to volunteers in the Milwaukee area.
It said the NATO summit “may create unrest or another national security incident. The American Red Cross in southeastern Wisconsin has been asked to place a number of shelters on standby in the event of evacuation of Chicago.”
According to a chapter spokesperson, the evacuation plan is not theirs alone.
“Our direction has come from the City of Chicago and the Secret Service,” she said.
Officials at Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication said the directive did not come from them.
The U.S. Secret Service did not return calls for comment.
Some downtown residents told CBS 2’s Mike Parker that the news has them on edge.
Brad Klein said it is “very unnerving. I feel a little bit unsafe, just a bit more than a little bit. It doesn’t make me feel like I want to be in the city during the NATO conference.”
An executive with the Service Employees International Union, who trains members in preparation for the summit, thinks such a plan might be “over the top.”
SEIU Local 1 training director Tom Dobry said, “This could be a lot like Y2K – a lot of hype and buildup. People will say, ‘that was it?’ Not a big deal.”
Federal agents to begin protecting ‘Red Zone’ for NATO next week
Starting next week, expect to see a showing of federal law enforcement in “battle” gear, weapons slung, in a highly visible effort to protect a perimeter that encompasses the federally operated buildings in the Loop.
Law enforcement has dubbed their efforts “Operation Red Zone.” It’s headed by the Federal Protective Service, which is working with state, federal and local law enforcement in anticipation of the NATO Summit in Chicago on May 20 and 21.