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Protesters in Chicago call for 'Robin Hood' tax

Nurses and thousands of other marchers demand a 'Robin Hood' tax on financial transactions. More protests are expected ahead of a NATO summit in Chicago.

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Chris Phillips, an Occupy activist, said two police officers seized a wooden flag pole he was using to fly a flag reading "coexist" while standing on a bench on Daley Plaza. Officers told him the pole was considered a weapon.

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"Did they read my flag? It's clearly a peaceful protest," he said. "I didn't hurt anybody. Are you kidding me?" Phillips said. He planned to protest nonstop for the next 4 days.

Meanwhile, lawyers for NATO summit protesters said police on Friday morning released four of nine activists arrested Wednesday on accusations that they had or planned to make Molotov cocktails.

The lawyers said police, with their guns drawn, raided an apartment building where activists were staying and arrested nine people. The Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild said officers broke down doors in the building in the South Side Bridgeport neighborhood and produced no warrants.

The Chicago Police Department refused to comment.

Many office buildings in the usually bustling Loop business district were closed after workers were warned to stay home because of heightened security, snarled transportation and the possibility of unruly protests.

Other small protests, including one targeting climate change, are also planned.

Shawmaf Khubba, a university student, took a 14-hour bus ride from New Jersey on Thursday with 40 others to join the Chicago protests. He said he wanted to raise awareness and tough questions about what he called NATO's unwarranted military aggression around the world.

"NATO is a strong arm of the U.S. that gives an excuse to go everywhere around the world," he said before Friday's rally. "I'm here because I care about what happens to people around the world."

Scattered protests over the past week have been relatively small, including a march Thursday through the "Magnificent Mile" shopping district that drew about 100 people.

Estimates of how many might show up Sunday for an anti-NATO march have varied widely, from a couple of thousand to more than 10,000.

Police and the Secret Service have taken no chances as heads of state from 50 countries begin arriving for the NATO summit, where leaders will discuss the war in Afghanistan and European missile defense.

Security is high on trains. Barricades and fences have been erected around landmark buildings, and streets are being closed.

Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant, Jason Keyser, Shannon McFarland and Tammy Webber contributed to this report.

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