Chicago is now the first U.S. city outside of Washington, D.C. to host a NATO Summit. It ended Monday after two days of negotiations among top world leaders.
Withdrawing NATO troops from Afghanistan was the main focus of the Summit. The agreed-upon NATO-Afghan transition plan calls for U.S. led military forces to leave by the end of 2014.
Afghan national forces will then take over security responsibilities. NATO will finance afghan forces with $4.1 billion per year, as well as advise, train, and assist 350,000 Afghan security forces.
Thousands protested outside Chicago's McCormick place during these negotiations. Though the march to Grant Park was mostly peaceful, it ended with a few violent clashes between protesters and police.
Occupy NU’s Mauricio Maluff was among protesters who led a group of Northwestern students to the march.
“This is awesome,” Maluff said. “You can feel the energy, you can hear the people chanting, you can hear the people protesting."
Maluff and 10 other NU students marched with the International Socialist Organization and Socialist Workers Group. Both groups and the students are demanding the end of NATO.
"There's a lot of people and a lot of cops, but I think everybody here is really committed to non-violence and it's really well organized so I'm really happy,” NU junior Niabi Schmaltz said.
With heavy security lining the streets, Mauricio and thousands of others marched from Grant Park up Jackson to McCormick place where the Summit was being held.
At McCormick Place, NU's publication “The Protest” filmed as police blocked protesters attempting to cross their lines. But these few instances of violence aren't stopping NU students.
“Rights are the kind of thing where if you don't use them you lose them,” NU junior Jack Licata said. “You need to keep exercising your right to protest or people will be able to take it from you more easily.”
"I don't think that NATO's going to disband immediately, but I think there are some possibilities for raising awareness which is really what we're here to do,” Schmaltz said.
Though the protesters represented causes from gay marriage to public education, Maluff said they all have one common goal: "Justice, equality, the things that matter.”
Maluff said that as a college student, these things are what make his time at Northwestern most worthwhile.
"I would just like to exhort students for participating in this kind of thing,” Maluff said. “It's not just about going to class and getting good grades it's about it's about being a good citizen.”
Over the weekend, six NATO protesters were charged with felonies including aggravated battery to a police officer.
Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy said the department was prepared for even more protesters than were there. He said his officers' discipline and practice kept the protests under control on that day and throughout the week.