Chicago, IL - The City of Chicago bowed to pressure from a growing movement against war and cutbacks. After months of denying organizers permits to protest , the Public Building Commission of Chicago wrote that, “…yes, Daley Plaza will be open to public assembly and public activity during the G8/NATO Summits in May 2012.”
At a press conference Dec. 22, in front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, Joe Iosbaker of the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) stated, “This is a clear victory for CANG8 and for all those who want to march against war and poverty when the generals, banksters and heads of state meet here on May 19.”
On Nov. 9, in an email to Iosbaker, the managers of Daley Plaza stated, "Unfortunately we are not approving any permits for the use of the plaza May 15th-22nd." One week later, CANG8 met with city officials, including those who refused a request to state that protestors would be permitted to gather anywhere in the Loop (Chicago’s downtown) during the dates of the summits.
But after bringing together the support of labor, community, faith-based and civil liberties organizations, as well as Occupy Chicago and national and international pressure to insist on the right to protest, the city has reversed itself.
However, while making this concession, Emanuel launched new attacks last week. Andy Thayer of CANG8 denounced the draconian restrictions being threatened against marches in ordinances submitted to the Chicago City Council. Thayer explained that these could be voted on at the next City Council meeting on Jan. 18 and called on alderpersons to oppose them.
N’Dana Carter of Southside Together Organizing for Power/Mental Health Movement explained why people in Chicago will be marching against NATO and the G8. She related that Mayor Emanuel is closing half of the mental health clinics run by the city, at a time when the need is greater because of the crisis in people’s lives. She explained that the cuts coming down on the poor are coming from the richest 1%, which is who will be at the G8 and NATO summits.
Jennifer Wolan, a student from Dundee Crown High School and president of their Youth Labor Committee, spoke about why she plans to march in May. “I don’t see democracy when restrictions are put on the people, the working class and the students.” While speaking of videoing protesters, Wolan said, “I don’t see anyone planning to video the violence by NATO in Afghanistan.”
With this victory in hand, the group that gathered today is confident that they will win permits to march to within sight and sound of the summits at Chicago’s McCormick Place.