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NATO Protesters Poised To Accept New March Route ‘Grudgingly’

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NATO Protesters

Andy Thayer (right) and other NATO protesters discuss their plans to accept the city’s suggested march route “begrudgingly.” (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 03/30/12 1:24 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Anti-war protesters appear ready to compromise with the City of Chicago about a march during the NATO summit.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, a day after losing their second round against the city before an administrative judge, protesters are making some concessions.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

Organizer Andy Thayer says demonstrators will agree to a route that skirts the Loop, as suggested by the city, if officials formalize their offers.

He said if the city is “willing to put on paper that the Petrillo Band Shell will indeed be offered for free; will indeed be offered with no insurance requirement, we will accept that, grudgingly.”

Protesters also want the city to commit to backing them if the Secret Service puts a perimeter around McCormick Place so large that NATO members can’t see them. The protesters have set a deadline for that commitment for Wednesday, and if it is not met, they are threatening to go to federal court.

On Thursday, an administrative law judge ruled against the protesters’ request march through the Loop, saying such a march on the first day of the summit would strain city streets and police.

The city suggested the alternate path to the summit meetings at McCormick Place — starting at the in Grant Park instead of Daley Plaza — but protesters initially said it was too hard to get to on mass transit and too long of a route.

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to NATO continues to see Chicago as the ideal place to hold the summit.

“Chicago, in many ways, represents a city that is very much like NATO. NATO’s a microcosm of Chicago. One third of the people who live in this city have roots in countries that are NATO countries,” Ivo Daalder tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

Ambassador Daalder traveled to Chicago from Brussels the week after hosting Chicago’s first lady at a reception for other NATO ambassadors. He says he would welcome protestors exercising their First Amendment rights.

Thayer counters the First Amendment doesn’t mean anything unless protesters have an audience.

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