City Council Approves Security Plan For NATO/G8 Protests
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UPDATED 01/18/12 6:14 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The City Council cast an overwhelming vote on Wednesday to approve tighter rules on parades and protests ahead of the joint NATO and G8 summits in May.
But WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports protest organizers remained opposed to the end and nearly drowned out the roll call vote on the security measures proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
Chicago Police officials expect some 10,000 demonstrators when the summits are held.
On Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel eliminated earlier proposals that would have increased fines on those demonstrators for resisting arrest or obstructing a police officer. He had already agreed to remove the measure protesters found most objectionable – significantly higher fines for resisting arrest. City Hall also modified the mayor’s proposals to tighten restrictions on parades and public demonstrations.
But the changes from Emanuel’s office did not satisfy either protesters or all the aldermen who leaned the other way and worried about keeping the peace during summits which have prompted violent demonstrations in other cities.
As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, protesters jammed the hallway outside council chambers during Wednesday’s council meeting, clamoring for the few seats available inside.
Despite the angry shouts of protesters, the roll call continued, as several protestors were removed, leading the chanting until the vote was final.
In the end, the full City Council approved the security measures in a pair of votes of 45-4 and 41-5.
Among the security measures, aldermen approved an ordinance extending curfews on parks and beaches; granting the mayor emergency no-bid purchasing power for security-related goods and services; and allowing Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to deputize officers from other departments.
Among those voting “no” was Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), whose ward includes McCormick Place, the virtual ground zero for summit meetings and protests when the summits are held from May 19 to May 21.
“Quite frankly, on May 17, people ought to leave. If you’re in the perimeter, find other ways. I’m hearing it from everybody left and right in the ward that they’re saying they’re gonna leave town starting probably Wednesday or Thursday (before the summits) and come back on the Tuesday,” Fioretti said. “They’re gonna take an extended stay vacation that weekend.”
Council members had been briefed by top police brass on preparations for the summits, estimating about 10,000 protesters for the summits.
But Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields disagreed with that estimate.
“That’s the lowest number I’ve heard yet. I’m hearing from different people that have gone through the training program that have expected 40,000 people to come in,” Shields said.
Deputy Police Supt. Debra Kirby said “10,000 is a number that I’ve seen associated with the last two (similar) events; Toronto and Pittsburgh. … We really won’t know for sure until we’re very close to that event and what we’re planning for right now is to be ready for every eventuality.”
Protest organizers suggested there would be resistance if the City Council approved the security measures pushed by the mayor.
Organizer Andy Thayer said Tuesday if the council approves what he calls rights infringing measures, then “all bets are off” – suggesting more intense protests.
McCarthy shrugged off Thayer’s comment.
“OK, well, that’s what Mr. Thayer said. I mean, I’m not going to even comment on it,” McCarthy said Tuesday. “I’m not willing to bet on anything that’s going to happen. What’s going to happen is that we are going to provide a safe environment to the best of our ability.”
Jeff Frank of the National Lawyers’ Guild said that there are other onerous requirements, particularly on carrying signs.
“One part of this new ordinance is that every sign has to be described in particularity on the permit,” he said.
But Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Michelle Boone said Frank’s impression is not correct. The requirement only applies to very large signs.
“The reason for requesting people to, when at all possible, to disclose when signage would have to be larger than one person would carry, is to ensure that the city is able to provide the proper city services,” Boone said.