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NATO In Chicago: City Pulls Nurses' Permit, Forces Group To Move Rally To Grant Park (VIDEO)

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Registered Nurse Martese Chism, with National Nurses United talks to the media, during a protest by nurses at City Hall, Monday, Oct. 24, 2011, in Chicago.
Registered Nurse Martese Chism, with National Nurses United talks to the media, during a protest by nurses at City Hall, Monday, Oct. 24, 2011, in Chicago.

The nation's largest nurses union is considering taking legal action after the city of Chicago revoked its previously approved permit to rally downtown on the Friday before the NATO summit.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the city has informed National Nurses United that the group must change its parade route, ending in the larger Grant Park rather than the more centralized Daley Plaza.

The group previously estimated that 1,000 people would take part in its May 18 rally, which is set to begin at the Sheraton hotel downtown, but the city fears the turnout will swell beyond the capacity of Daley Plaza due to the addition of Rage Against The Machine rocker Tom Morello, as his solo act The Nightwatchman, to the rally's entertainment roster.

"The addition to your event of a performance by a popular, nationally known musician who regularly draws large crowds under similar circumstances, along with the active recruitment of other organizations to join in your event, will likely increase the number of participants in your event far beyond the number estimated on your application," Mike Simon, assistant commissioner of the city's Department of Transportation, wrote in a May 8 letter to the group, according to the Tribune.

But the nurses union has called the city's action a move to "quarantine a long-planned rally," CBS Chicago reports. The nurses' rally was to be the only anti-NATO protest that received a permit to rally during a weekday in downtown Chicago. The group has begun conversations with the American Civil Liberties Union and, on Wednesday, plans to "outline a legal challenge" to the city's decision.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the group will file a federal lawsuit calling on the city to reverse course and reinstate their original permit by Thursday.

"Apparently the mayor thinks nurses and [musician] Tom Morello are a national security threat," RoseAnn DeMoro, National Nurses United executive director, told NBC Chicago. "How shameful for this last minute attempt to squelch this event -- especially given that the G-8 leaders have long since decided to flee from the public view rather than hear our voices."

Morello, who grew up in suburban Chicago, told the Tribune that "it's interesting to be blacklisted in my own hometown" but vowed to press on. He tweeted Tuesday, "Why is Rahm Emanuel so afraid of The Nightwatchman??"

The nurses union's rally is not the first NATO-related protest that the city has moved from Daley Plaza. The Coalition Against NATO/G8 protest group had initially planned to start their May 20 march there, but will now launch their action from Grant Park's Petrillo Music Shell.

Last week, the U.S. Secret Service released its security plan for the May 20-21 summit, which includes plans for intermittent road closures on the Kennedy Expressway and a shutdown of Lake Shore Drive near McCormick Place, the main site of the summit, beginning that Saturday. The city's Museum Campus will also be closed Sunday.

In a final informational meeting on the NATO summit Tuesday, a security consultant continued to downplay downtown residents and business owners' concerns about the upcoming event, Fox Chicago reports.

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