Chicago, IL - After losing an appeal for a preferred march route for the May 20 protest at the NATO summit in Chicago, activists held a press conference, March 30, to criticize the city and announce their next steps.
“Mayor Emanuel lied to the people of Chicago,” said Andy Thayer. “He said the city had the ability to police this summit and at the same time protect the First Amendment rights of ordinary civilians. Now, in denying the permit, he’s said the city doesn’t have sufficient resources for the requested NATO protest route.”
“The city doesn’t want voices of opposition to the NATO war in Afghanistan or to the G8 agenda of poverty for the 99%," said CANG8's Joe Iosbaker. Iosbaker had applied for and received a tentative permit for Daley Plaza for May. “In December, the city said that Daley Plaza would be open for First Amendment activity during the G8/NATO summits.”
The city has now not only denied a permit request for First Amendment activity at the Plaza, it has defended its denial in an administrative hearing.
The CANG8 activists asked the city for commitment in writing of a promised permit for Petrillo Band Shell in historic Grant Park; for a march route to McCormick Place that would take them through at least part of the Loop (Chicago’s business district) and a waiver of a $1 million insurance requirement for the park.
They also asked the city to join them in defending the offered route against threats by the Secret Service. The government has declared the NATO summit a National Special Security Event and the Secret Service could declare a wide security perimeter, without the right to assemble. Reached by phone, Iosbaker said, “Declaring this a National Security Event doesn’t give them the power to suspend the constitution. We have the right to march against the wars that the U.S. and NATO are waging and threatening to wage.”
If the city refuses these demands, the group will consider a First Amendment case in federal court.