NATO, G8 in Chicago: Labor, Community Groups Push Back Over Revised Protester Proposals
A coalition comprising some 20 community and labor groups on Friday issued a public letter addressed to Chicago's City Council which outlined their concerns with the revised proposals concerning protesters of the concurrent NATO and G8 summits to be held in the city in May.
The letter -- cosigned by Stand Up! Chicago, the Chicago Teachers Union, several SEIU chapters and other groups -- outlines the groups' "deep concern" with the ordinances submitted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, which they say "would diminish both the rights of citizens to peaceful public protest and the democratic tradition of our city" if passed.
The letter proceeds to outline their concerns with the ordinances themselves, as well as what they describe as an "apparent rush to usher them through City Council without time for meaningful community consideration and input."
(Scroll down to read the letter in full.)
The groups plan to hold two press conferences next week ahead of the City Council's anticipated vote on the proposal at their Wednesday meeting.
As the city on Thursday announced that it had approved its first parade permit to protesters ahead of the summits and the mayor stated the city stands "in strong support of the applicant organizations' First Amendment right to protest."
City leaders also announced this week that some of the new rules it had previously proposed, such as increasing the maximum fine for a violation of the parade ordinance and requiring parade marshals per every 100 participant, had been dropped.
But despite the city's recent assurances, other protesters beyond those signing onto the City Council letter also remain unimpressed. Andy Thayer, a veteran Chicago activist at the forefront of the groups planning to protest the summits, said in a statement issued Friday that the latest version of the city's plans for handling protesters of the May summits [PDF], "stunk. Almost as much as the earlier versions."
Thayer said many of the remaining proposals -- such as one requiring protest organizers to describe "any recording equipment, sound amplification equipment, banners, signs, or other attention-getting devices to be used in connection with the parade" in advance -- are "ridiculous" and "odious."
The city previously came under criticism for its plan to put parts of downtown Chicago, essentially, on a lockdown as part of the federal government's security plan for the summits. Activists have also not been pleased by the increased fines protesters accused of resisting a police officer will face, among other concerns.
Read the letter here:
Open Letter From Community and Labor Organizations
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