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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday announced a new ordinance that was drastically increase the fines potentially facing protesters of the NATO and G8 summits the city will host in May of next year.
The plan entails more than doubling the fines for resisting a police officer or aiding escape from their current range of $25-to-$500 to $200-to-$1,000. Further, the ordinance will amend the hours that public parks, playgrounds and beaches will be open, in accordance with Chicago Park District's hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and will allow the mayor to enter into contracts with both public and private security and planning entities, without City Council approval, as the city prepares for the concurrent summits, scheduled to take place May 15-22, 2012.
"The NATO and G8 summits present an exciting opportunity to showcase our extraordinary city to the world," Emanuel said in a statement announcing the plan. "Hosting these summits puts the spotlight on Chicago as a city on the move and an unparalleled destination for travel, tourism and business."
The ordinance will also green light the Chicago Police Department's ability to enter into agreement with other law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI or Illinois State Police, in managing the expected protesters.
Both the NATO and G8 summits have practically become synonymous with the vibrant protests, at times violent, they tend to attract. In an unrelated press conference Tuesday, however, Emanuel said he recognized that protesters "have the right -- which I believe firmly in -- of expressing themselves, and their First Amendment right needs to be protected," the Chicago Tribune reports.
On the other side of the coin, the mayor said that he has the right "to enforce the law and to protect the law."
"And both of those will be done correctly," Emanuel continued. And we will do it both as we have for the past, and will do it also as we come up to the event."
At the press conference, protesters claimed the city is attempting to shut them out from protesting the summits and confronted Emanuel Tuesday.
Andy Thayer, one of many organizers behind the marches and demonstrations currently in the works, told Fox Chicago protesters are demanding "that the city publicly commit to giving permits to within sight and sound of the G8 and NATO Summits."
"This is not the kind of city that we want to live in, and so we're standing up for it now," Thayer continued.
Nancy Wade of MoveOn.org also blasted the mayor's newly proposed fines, via a mass e-mail, as "blatant repression of the right of the 99% to petition their governments for redress of grievances -- the Bill of Rights, First Amendment," even though he claims the changes are being made out of concerns for safety.
The mayor responded, according to Fox, that protesters will be able to apply and be considered for permits for their demonstrations after the first of the new year.
Activists spoke out over the summer against Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy's pronounced plan to train officers for making "mass arrests" during the summits. Police union head Michael Shields noted that the city should prepare for a high turnouts from a "bunch of wild, anti-globalist anarchists."
Thayer and other protesters organizing demonstrations around the summits, however, contend that the demonstrations that are being planned will be peaceful.
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