Emanuel Pushes Ordinances To Keep Protesters In Check
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Updated 12/14/11 – 6 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to have a tight rein on protesters when Chicago hosts two major international summits next spring.
On Wednesday, he introduced ordinances that would dramatically increase possible fines for anyone resisting police and allow cooperation between state, federal and local law enforcement. The fines would be between $200 and $1000, up from $25-$500.
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The mayor said the changes would only be in effect for the NATO and G-8 summits in May, when throngs of protesters are expected.
“Guys, it’s not a big deal,” Emanuel said. “This is a one-time event. We are going to do it in an organized fashion.”
In the past, in other cities, G-8 and NATO summits have drawn protestors and participants alike from all over the world. The protests at those summits have often become disorderly and violent, prompting some to wonder whether the summits will be worth the trouble.
Asked if it’s possible to hold the dual G-8 and NATO summits without the kind of violent demonstrations that have taken place in other cities, Gary Schenkel, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications said, “Very much so.”
“I really do think that we set the tone, we set the tone early that this is a positive event,” Schenkel said. “It’s not like the city has not handled large events of this nature before. This is going to be certainly on the eye of the world and I think it’s a great opportunity for the city of Chicago, really.
It might be a risk as well for Chicago’s image, ruined by riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, but rehabilitated by the clockwork precision of the 1996 DNC that Rahm Emanuel orchestrated for President Bill Clinton’s nomination for a second term.
“This is a unique opportunity with over 3,000 reporters from around the world tell the story,” Emanuel said. “One of the things they’ll be doing is talking about Chicago and that’s a unique opportunity for us. These two ordinances allow us to hold that conference here in the city of Chicago and do it in a proper way.”
The measure would also allow Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to deputize officers from other law enforcement agencies, close public parks and beaches overnight (11 p.m.-6 a.m.) to keep protesters from camping out. It also would give City Hall the power to sign contracts related to event security without City Council approval.
Another measure would limit the hours of approved parades featuring amplified music or sound; they would be allowed between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
But the friction has already begun, with protestors complaining about the city dragging its feet on permits on Tuesday, less than 24 hours before the mayor introduced his temporary security measures.
With the twin summits still a full five months away, both sides have already turned up the heat.