Alderman Seeks To Keep Police From Blocking Wireless Signals During Summits

CHICAGO (CBS) — At the City Council meeting Wednesday, an alderman will propose police keep their hands off the controls of downtown cell phone signals during expected protests this spring.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the NATO/G8 summit is coming to McCormick Place in May, and large protests are virtually guaranteed.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

But Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) wants to make sure Chicago Police do not kill cell phone signals during the protest as a way to keep demonstrators from passing along their plans via texting and social networking sites.

Wireless signals were cut off during a crackdown on democratic protests in Egypt, as well as during protests in San Francisco last year.

“We’re putting down a marker and saying, this has happened in other places and we don’t even want it considered here,” Munoz said.

Munoz said he has no indication that police are contemplating shutting down cellphone use or social media sites. And aides to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Supt. Garry McCarthy say the leaders have no plans to put any restrictions on social media or other communications.

But Chicago has a checkered history of dealing with protests. Most infamously, many demonstrators, as well as reporters and passersby, were beaten by Chicago Police officers outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968, in what has been popularly called a “police riot.”

Many Chicagoans sided with police at the time of the convention, and as recently as two years ago, some retired officers held a ceremony in which those who were working during the convention were honored as “the only thing that stood between Marxist street thugs and public order.”

But now, memories of the 1968 convention are stoking the rhetoric of some protesters who plan to come to Chicago for the NATO/G8 Summit. A notice posted earlier this month by the Vancouver-based Adbusters Culturejammers reads in part, “And this time around we’re not going to put up with the kind of police repression that happened during the Democratic National Convention protests in Chicago, 1968 … nor will we abide by any phony restrictions the City of Chicago may want to impose on our first amendment rights.”

Meanwhile, just last week, the city proposed a $6.2 million settlement with protesters who were arrested or detained by police during a 2003 demonstration against the Iraq War.

More than 800 protesters accused Chicago Police officers of arresting people en masse without cause, after officers allowed them to shut down Lake Shore Drive during the evening rush, then arrested them without giving them a notice to disperse or leave.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Joe

    I support anything the police can do to deal with the massive influx of the criminal element that will be converging on the city for the NATO summits. The Losers that will be protesting, don’t even know what the hell they are protesting. It’s all about raising havoc, destroying property, and forcing police to take action. If disrupting the cell signals will hamper the criminal Loser’s ability to organize,it is a good thing!

  • PG

    Can someone please explain to me why Chicago wanted this summit to be held here? Everywhere this summit takes place, chaos follows, and Chicago asked to host this? All of the protests (virtually guaranteed to be non-peaceful), with people throwing anything that they can get their hands on (including bags of urine and feces), the lives of citizens and police being put at risk, etc., everything associated with this summit seems to be bad. This just seems like an invitation for disaster.

    • Joe

      Exactly why we need to give our police every advantage we can. I also think the city should reconsider raising the fines on these Loser protesters.

      • corrupt city

        It’s called MONEY!

  • Chivi

    I work downtown Chicago. I would hate to have one of those officers beat me up or arrest me by mistake. We need the cell phones to be available to us. We will not know who the real enemy is especially with the corruption in Chicago.

    • Joe

      It won’t be hard to distinguish who the criminals are. They’ll be the ones hurling objects at police! Act civilized and you haven’t any thing to worry about.

  • tony

    Im hearing that all the civil rights lawyers will be giving out thier law firm business cards at the airport.Loevy and Loevy law firm stated that got the edge on this

  • City of coruption

    The CPD is the enemy. Crooked cops and politicians everywhere in Chicago.

    • Sue


  • Chester

    “…And this time around we’re not going to put up with the kind of police repression that happened during the Democratic National Convention protests in Chicago”
    WANNA BET ? I assure you that the nonsense that accompanies other protests will not be well tolerated in Chicago. It might be fun to sit up in Canada & announce what you will & won’t do, but I suggest that you don’t know what you are getting into.
    Welcome to Chicago – scream & chant; march up & down & wave your signs – BUT – BEHAVE YOUSELVES, or else.

  • juju

    Aren’t the hippies done with the revolution?

    • Joe

      No, now they just call themselves, Democrats!

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