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Chicago mayor confronted with demand for permits to march on NATO/G8 summit

By staff |
December 13, 2011
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Joe Iosbaker at 12/13 press conf. demands permits to march on NATO/G8 Summi
Joe Iosbaker at December 13 press conference demands permits to march on NATO / G8 Summit. (Photo by Adam Rosen)

Chicago, IL- After months of avoiding organizers planning the protests against the NATO and G8 Summit next spring, Mayor Rahm Emanuel finally got an earful Dec. 13. Thirty people from the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) packed a meeting of the Public Building Commission (PBC), which Emanuel chairs. Joe Iosbaker, Andy Thayer and Newland Smith of CANG8 all spoke to the commissioners and pressed the demands for permits to march on the summits of bankers, generals and politicians.

Iosbaker had applied for a permit for Daley Plaza back in June. The plaza is one of the few places in the Loop (Chicago’s downtown) where large crowds can assemble. The realty company, MB Realty, that manages the plaza at first told Iosbaker he had correctly submitted the application. Five months later, they told him that the city would not allow any protests to occur in the plaza during the dates of the NATO/G8 summits. Then, the Public Building Commission, which owns the plaza and employs MB Realty, responded to a letter from the National Lawyers Guild. They now say that the reason for denial is a regulation that a permit for May protests must be submitted after the first of the year.

According to Iosbaker, the letter from MB Realty was a moment where, “… the curtain is pulled aside, like in The Wizard of Oz, and the real intentions of the administration are seen: they want to deter protests.” According to Iosbaker, to achieve this objective, the Emanuel administration “… is preparing to deny permit applications. They informed their agents at MB Realty that they would not be allowing permits that week. However, MB Realty wasn’t sufficiently coached,” and so they blurted out the truth.

Andy Thayer scored a victory by forcing an exchange with Emanuel. Thayer asked whether the mayor, “…would commit to permits for either Daley Plaza or Grant Park [the only two venues in the Loop large enough for the expected turnout]. The Public Building Commission’s Executive Director tried to protect Emanuel, but Thayer insisted that, “the mayor should be able to speak for himself instead of hiding behind his staff.”

Emanuel then made three points. He said, “Protesters’ First Amendment rights will be respected; they can apply for permits after the first of the year; and permits will be granted as appropriate."

Thayer retorted, “Without permits for venues, the right to assemble is meaningless.”

Finally, Newland Smith of CANG8 and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship quoted statements from Episcopalian, Methodist, Catholic and Jewish scholars and leaders about the need for people of faith to challenge the hardship brought on humanity by the policies of the G8 wealthy nations; and to oppose the wars waged by the powerful nations of NATO.

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