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NATO Protest Organizers Appeal Denial Of New Permit

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 28, 2012 5:40PM

Photo Credit: Stephen Chung

Testimony was heard yesterday in a hearing pitting NATO summit protest organizers against city officials over the city’s decision to deny a change of permit date for May 20, the opening day of the summit. Initially, protest organizers planned to march on May 19, but since the G8 summit was moved to Camp David, organizers hope to move their march to the 20th to coincide with NATO. The city denied the request, citing traffic congestion concerns and other security factors over the planned route.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Chief Debra Kirby, head of the Chicago Police international relations office, stated that the crowds at the demonstration could overwhelm Daley Plaza. City officials have argued that the planned route would interfere with the multiple motorcades which would pass through the Loop. CBS Chicago reports Mayor Emanuel said, “the destination doesn’t change, the route does to accommodate, given the fact that you have about 150 dignitaries that you have to move.” Officials also argued that even though the route would change, the planned destinations would still be accommodated.

The new plan would move the rally to Grant Park and take protesters south on Columbus, west on Congress, south on Michigan, west on Harrison, south on State to Cermak, and then east to McCormick Place. Protest organizers have pointed out that it does not provide them with the same visibility as a march through the loop, and the starting point at the Petrillo Band Shell is a longer hike from public transportation.

Ronald Schupp of the Coalition Against NATO told CBS “It’s silly. We had a nice permit. All they had to do was change it to next day.” Organizer Andy Thayer said:

“We think that the city forcing the marchers out of the Loop area - where most people in Chicago might be shopping and so forth on a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday afternoon - that really diminishes the First Amendment impact that we’re looking for.”

Administrative Law Judge Raymond J. Prosser will rule on the case within two days. Organizers say they don’t expect the judge to reverse the denial, but during her testimony, Kirby did say that should the appeal be successful, the Chicago Police Department would find a way to deal with the circumstances.