Chicago Rejects Protesters’ Plans For March During NATO Summit

CHICAGO (STMW) — The city of Chicago has rejected a request by anti-war protesters to march through downtown Chicago on May 20, the first day of the NATO summit.

The protesters already had a permit to march along the same route — from Daley Plaza to McCormick Place — one day earlier. That was the date the now-moved G-8 summit was to have begun.

But when President Barack Obama moved the G-8 conference earlier this month to Camp David, Md., the protesters put in an application for a city permit that asked to move their march back a day, to Sunday, May 20, to coincide with the opening of the NATO summit.

The Chicago Department of Transportation now says the planned protest would “substantially and unnecessarily interfere with traffic” if it were held on that Sunday.

In a letter denying the application for a march that was sent to protest organizer Andy Thayer, assistant transportation commissioner Mike Simon wrote that there wouldn’t be “sufficient number of on-duty police officers, or other city employees authorized to regulate traffic,” on that Sunday.

Motorcades shuttling 5,000 summit attendees — including 50 heads of state — would create “significant traffic impediments which would be exacerbated by the proposed 2.64-mile parade route,” Simon wrote, warning that there wasn’t enough manpower to police the summit and the protest while adequately covering the rest of the city.

The city has given protesters until Thursday to accept a suggested alternate march route — from the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park down Columbus and Congress before eventually arriving at the site of the summit.

Thayer said the alternate route — which avoids longer stretches of Michigan Avenue and State Street — would be “far less visible and convenient for public transport.” He said Monday that city officials were trying to take advantage of the G-8’s move away from Chicago to stifle protest.

He said that the city’s claim that it doesn’t have the resources to handle a Sunday parade is “ridiculous” given that it already accepted an identical request for Saturday, May 19.

“If anything, there’s less traffic on a Sunday,” he said. “I literally cut and pasted the application and just changed the date.”

At a meeting with city officials Monday morning, Thayer was told that a Los Angeles activist already has a permit to protest at Daley Plaza in the Sunday.

If protesters don’t accept the alternate route, or quickly find a way to work with the Los Angeles activist in a way that is acceptable to the city, they will only be permitted to march the day before the summit begins.

“There isn’t much point in marching on an empty building,” Thayer said. “We have a First Amendment right to be within sight and sound of the world leaders when they meet.”

Organizers hope that tens of thousands of protesters will march. They previously hailed the president’s decision to move the G-8 summit as evidence that the political establishment is scared of large-scale protests in an election year.

Obama said at the time that he preferred to hold the G8 at Camp David because it would be a more relaxed setting for world leaders to meet.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel — who has had a battle of words over protest restrictions with activists since the original plans to host the G-8 and the NATO summits were announced last year — has repeatedly insisted that protesters’ First Amendment rights will be respected. His office did not immediately respond to calls for comment Monday.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


    Why the hell do these Losers need to march at all? Put them in a park somewhere so they can scream at the top of their lungs without disturbing the normal people. Is it a constitutional right to annoy people? Is it a constitutional right to force your opinion on others? Is it a right to eliminate a peaceful environment for normal people? Does anyone even care what a bunch of whacko anti-war protesters think? I think not. Put them out in the center of the old Miegs field site.

    • Buddy Bell

      Be careful not to choke on the blood of the children killed with your tax money.

    • German Leprechaun

      You are correct, sir (or ma’am)!!!

    • End The Illusion

      You are so right.

      The nerve of these protestors thinking that they can exercise the rights our founding fathers fought so hard to give us. Thank goodness we have people like you to protect the rest of us from those who would seek to criticize our government.

  • SAS

    The First Amendment right to protest is sacred and completely non negotiable. The anti war left should not budge one inch and should proceed with this protest irrespective of the wishes of the Chicago police, otherwise the right to free speech and peaceful protest will be irrevocably eroded.

    • German Leprechaun

      They were already granted a permit for the 20th, fool. Nobody has any right to interfere with the public way! The “right to protest” is both EXTREMELY negotiable and subject to local laws and traffic patterns!!

  • April

    The Constitution doesn’t say anything about requiring a permit, German Leprechaun. Just because you like war, bloodshed, and the status quo doesn’t mean you get to decide when someone gets to use their First Amendment rights.

    • Dean Farrel

      So does that mean under your first amendment rights, you can disregard all laws and rules that the rest of us have to abide by? You are an idiot!!!!

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