Complete coverage of the Chicago NATO Summit

Nurses Kick Off First Official NATO Protest

The National Nurses Union plans to send a message to Wall Street

Saturday, May 19, 2012  |  Updated 5:10 AM CDT
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A National network of nurses gathered at Daley Plaza in a noisy but peaceful demonstration demanding a

A National network of nurses gathered at Daley Plaza in a noisy but peaceful demonstration demanding a "Robin Hood" tax on banks' financial transactions

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Nurse Explains Impetus for Protest

Nurse Karen Higgins says a "sales tax" on Wall Street could go a long way to heal global economies, improve health care.

Tom Morello Seranades Nurses at Rally

Rage Against the Machine frontman performs at Nurses United rally in Daley Plaza.
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The first official protest of NATO kicked off Friday afternoon with nurses from around the world gathering in Daley Plaza for a rally.

"Chicago is a great place to come, but we're here with a message, obviously. And our hope is that tomorrow we'll get that message out," co-president of National Nurses United Karen Higgins said at the Sheraton Hotel, where more than 1,000 nurses gathered a night earlier.

That message: tax Wall Street to relieve the growing problem of inadequate health care.

The centerpiece of the rally is a call for a Robin Hood tax, a small levy of 50 cents or less on $100 of trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives and other financial instruments that could raise up to $350 billion every year in revenue, NNU explained in a statement.

It's a protest that almost didn't happen. Originally approved as a march and a rally, city officials a little more than a week ago threatened to pull the nurses' already-approved permit if they didn't amend their plans.

The city wanted the rally moved to Grant Park because a concert by former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello increased the likelihood of an overwhelming crowd.

Ultimately, the two sides reached a deal. The nurses dropped the march and agreed to a shortened rally and brief concert.

"It got a little bit shaky there for a while but ... as nurses, we're like one of these people -- we never give up," said Higgins.

Video: National Nurses Director RoseAnn DeMoro Explains Tax on PBS' "Moyers & Company"
 

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