On September 27, Chicago Judge Thomas More Donnelly issued a ruling in favor of “Occupy Chicago” protesters who had stayed in Grant Park, an historic public forum, after the park’s curfew—which closed the park from 11:00 p.m. until 6 a.m.—and had been arrested as a result. (On one occasion, this resulted in 173 arrests; on another, in 130 arrests.)
Judge Donnelly – who invoked not only the First Amendment, but also the Illinois Constitution’s especially broad right of assembly—made three key points in support of his ruling.
+ There Was Inconsistent Enforcement of the Grant Park Curfew, Evidencing Unconstitutional Viewpoint Discrimination …
+ The City Did Not Submit a Sufficient Factual Showing to Establish That It Needed the Full Curfew Time to Clean and Maintain the Park …
+ Because Grant Park Is Unique, the Occupy Chicago Protesters Would Lack Ample Alternative Channels for Communication If They Could Not Break the Grant Park Curfew …
Even though the G-8 will now be held in a friendly-sounding bunker, the world should still watch Chicago this May, if only to bear witness to the clash between forces bearing wildly different styles of armor. Protesters will be armed with, well, nothing. Signs, maybe some banners. These activists will face a police force on steroids and a mayor wielding unprecedented levels of power, who essentially has full carte blanche to crush protest actions under the guise of maintaining security.
A 1984-style national security dragnet is set to descend on Chicago [in May this year] in an attempt to lock the city down during the NATO summit. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made it clear that he will happily act as the host of NATO - and that the 99 percent are not welcome. Emanuel is concocting a culture of fear, suggesting that it is the growing human resistance to NATO that represents danger, outside agitators, violence and invasion.
Universities and schools are being urged to close early in May; communities of color are told that NATO’s work is not their concern; merchants are preparing for assault from the dissenting masses. But NATO, and their G8 friends in hiding, are the real masters of war; it is they who are the greatest purveyors of violence on this earth.
It is unsurprising, then, that Emanuel has funding to further arm and mobilize the police and militarize the city. The Mayor has announced plans to contain and suppress demonstrators. He has pushed through legislation that restricts and criminalizes free speech and assembly and requires costly insurance for public demonstrations. He is issuing a steady stream of pronouncements about a fabricated Chicago, which he says is under siege from ominous and dangerous outside forces.
The mayor, not the popular resistance, is creating conditions - once again - for a police riot in Chicago against people exercising their right to peaceful dissent. Emanuel can still change course, and he should; so far, he has chosen to frame the coming convergence of protesters and the powerful solely in military and security terms.
The festival of NATO counter-summits, protests, and family-friendly permitted marches planned for May are the next chapter. Organizers and supporters will use humor and music, art and play, civil disobedience and imagination to voice their rejection of permanent imperial wars and the many forms of violence that arise from the same paradigm: discrimination and hate based on race, gender and ethnicity; epic income disparity; mass incarceration; inadequate resources for education, health care and opportunities for meaningful work.
The Showdown in Chicago has turned into a G8 Backdown. In a stunning about-face, the Obama administration has moved the Chicago G8 summit to Camp David, an ultra-secure military base in rural Maryland. Despite the tough talk of anti-Occupy technology, ordinances and paramilitary preparations, this is perhaps the first time that a major world summit has been relocated due to anticipated protests. And with only two months left before the summit was to begin, the change of venues is clearly a humiliating decision and a surprising victory of the Occupy movement. The specter of 50,000 nonviolent occupiers flooding the windy city with a list of demands for the world’s political elites was apparently too powerful. The NATO summit will still be meeting in Chicago… for now at least.
Check out this take by Occupywallst.org on what could be the movement’s next steps and weigh in below on how you think Occupy should react to the G8 backdown.
The Group of 8 Summit, a meeting of the governments of the world’s eight largest economies, was supposed to convene in Chicago this May. For months, Occupy Chicago, international anti-war groups, Anonymous, and hundreds of allies have publicly planned to shut it down. Now, only two months before the meeting is scheduled to begin, U.S. President Barack Obama is moving the assembly of over 7,000 leaders from the world’s wealthiest governments to the Camp David presidential compound, located in rural Maryland near Washington, DC, one of the most secure facilities in the world. The Chicago Tribune reports that summit organizers are “stunned” by the news.
“In May, the United States looks forward to hosting the G-8 and NATO Summits. To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the president is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues.
“The president will then welcome NATO allies and partners to his hometown of Chicago for the NATO Summit on May 20-21, which will be the premier opportunity this year for the president to continue his efforts to strengthen NATO in order to ensure that the Atlantic Alliance remains the most successful alliance in history, while charting the way forward in Afghanistan.”
The 38th G8 summit was to be held in Chicago alongside the NATO summit. It would have been the first time since 1977 in London that the two organizations held meetings in the same city at the same time.
Chicago police estimated that 2,000 to 10,000 demonstrators were expected to show up for the overlapping G-8 and NATO summits. At least two major demonstrations were already planned for downtown during the summit, and organizers said they wanted to send crowds of marchers down Michigan Avenue in the middle of the day.
Meetings of leaders of international economic organizations like the G-8 have drawn violent large-scale protests for more than a decade.
Protests and other forms of activism will be stunted at Camp David, to say the least, but the Masters of the Universe are scared - that much is undeniable.
Fearing the rebellious peaceful hordes of Occupy, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has granted the city’s police force emergency purchasing power to suit-up for NATO and G8 meetings this May. Top of the list: 3000 new riot face shields worth $200,000. These face shields are said to be better than existing ones because they fit easier over top of gas masks and seal directly to the forehead of the helmet, preventing liquids from passing through.
“Rioters known to attend NATO and G8 meetings have been known to throw bags of urine and bags of feces at police. Chicago Police officers need a shield that can adapt to what is being thrown at them, ” Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields told the Chicago Sun Times.
In a city already strapped for cash for social programs, the move comes as a surprise to citizens and protestors alike.
To our knowledge, no protesters plan on bringing any kind of scatological materials to the demonstrations in May. Furthermore, while cursory searching found plenty of speculation, rumor and hyperbole about such instances, we have yet to find any actual hard evidence outside of commentary. To the contrary, a civil liberties advocate told an independent news website in December: “This is part of a spectrum of information war strategies that the state uses to repress dissent.”
The Brian Piccolo Specialty School in Humboldt Park, Chicago is currently Occupied by parents and students. Occupy Chicago and other allies are outside the building in solidarity and have set up an encampment. Around one hundred people are present and are taking shifts to ensure the safety of the occupation. The Chicago Teachers Union has expressed support for the action. Piccolo, an elementary school with a student body that is almost entirely from low income communities of color, is one of 16 Chicago public schools slated to be closed by Mayor Rahm’s service cuts to the poor.
As of 3:30AM Central Time, it is believed that Chicago Police have decided to leave and protesters have declared victory for Day 1 of Occupied Piccolo! If you are in Chicago, please come to 1040 North Keeler Avenue to show your support, and bring a tent! Follow #takebackourschools, #piccolo, @OccupyChicago and @TBOurSchoolsChi on Twitter.
When the G8 meet in Chicago in May, it will be a major moment of truth for the global economy.
Already there are all sorts of ideas percolating – Robin Hood tax, banning high frequency flash trading, a true cost economy, bio-economics – that will lead to reform of the global financial system.
But in the meantime there is something we can all do to set the stage for #Occupy Chicago, and that is the personal action to move our money away from the big banks.
It’s easier than you think. You find the credit union in your town or city that you like. You make an appointment. You tell them, “I would like to leave my bank and join your credit union.” They say, “you got it, we’ll take care of it.” It will be the most pro-active hour of your week.
The purpose of these ordinances is the silencing of dissent. There is absolutely no other conclusion to draw.
Firedoglake and The Dissenter have been covering the ordinances since Emanuel first indicated on December 14 that he would push for the passage of the ordinances. As mentioned, the ordinances were revised but they are still an attack on those who would dare to exercise their First Amendment rights in the city of Chicago. Worst of all, they are permanent changes and do not expire after the NATO/G8 meetings in May.
That is right—Emanuel is using the NATO/G8 meetings as a pretense to force suppressive measures that chip away at Chicagoans’ civil liberties upon the people of Chicago.
Andy Thayer of CANG8 describes the worst aspects of the ordinances that just passed:
* The minimum fine for violation of the City’s parade permit ordinance would jump four-fold, from $50 to $200.” The maximum penalty would stay at $1000 and/or 10 days in jail * Ahead of demonstrations, “organizers would be required to provide the City with a list of all signs, banners, sound equipment or “attention-getting devices” that require more than one person to carry them,” creating “a license for the city to ‘ding’ organizers with absurd fines.” * No-bid contracts for NATO/G8 remains intact * Provision allowing “deputizing of ‘law enforcement’” is also still in the ordinance. This does not simply include the DEA, the FBI and the Illinois State Police but also “other law enforcement agencies as determined by the superintendent of police to be necessary for the fulfillment of law enforcement functions.” Thayer points out this could mean rent-a-cops, Blackwater, etc. * All downtown protest marches would be required to get $1 million insurance coverage to “indemnify the city against any additional or uncovered third party claims against the city arising out of or caused by the parade.” They would have to “agree to reimburse the city for any damage to the public way or city property arising out of or caused by the parade.”
Thayer points out this could mean someone who is not associated with an organization could “crash” the event and cause property damage. The City would then insist organizers pick up the tab.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is urging his City Council to enact strict new restrictions on many forms of protest on Wednesday, January 18. Local advocates say the Council is distracted by a fierce redistricting battle and that the new ordinance is likely to pass unnoticed, unless there’s a huge outcry.
According to the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal, the proposed ordinance imposes impossible-to-meet requirements, confusing restrictions and sky-high fines on protest organizers and participants, including:
A 2-hour time limit on all protests;
An increase in minimum fines from $50 to $1000 for violations of “parade regulations”;
A curfew in public spaces; and
A requirement to pre-register “attention-getting devices”, including signs and megaphones, at least 1 week before the event.
Perhaps most startling is the provision that would allow the Mayor’s office to sign no-bid contracts with security companies — whose employees may lack suitable training and oversight to prevent gross abuses.
Occupy Rogers Park and Occupy South Side started the petition because they believe that “this ordinance is a direct attack on anyone in this city who might ever walk a picket line, attend a rally, or stand in solidarity with others in support of a cause.” They want to flood City Council’s inboxes with messages opposing Chicago’s proposed anti-protest legislation, and make sure this message is heard loud and clear before Wednesday’s vote.
The occupiers of Chicago recently mic checked a Chicago Alderman “after the Chicago City Council’s unaminous 50-0 vote approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2012 Budget.” They received a finger-wag from Chicago’s liberal establishment.
“This kind of civil disobedience is likely to further entrench and enlarge a dislike for Occupy that I’m starting to sense and don’t want to see.
A working class backlash against Occupy would be ruinous for the movement and for the country. An entire generation of Reagan Democrats was created by the Anti-Vietnam War movement, which often went too far and looked too hard for moral purity when, in reality, there’s no such thing.” - Proco “Joe” Moreno
This is pretty amoral, ahistorical stuff. It’s hard to know where to start, even if we decide to take on trust that the “dislike for Occupy” Moreno has been “starting to sense” has some kind of basis in empirically observed reality (as opposed to just being something in the Wicker Park air he picked up using his special Hipster Alderman superpowers). […]
The dichotomy Moreno sets up is between an uncompromising, unrealistic moral purity on the one hand, and a pragmatic, get-things-done attitude on the other. He did the same thing in his explanation of why he voted for Emanuel’s budget in the first place: “I voted yes today because it’s my responsibility to make tough decisions. We’re going to have to grit our teeth and persevere.” And he’s made similar comments on Twitter: “Seeking moral purity will always lead to disappointment,” he wrote in response to a piece by In These Times contributing editor Achy Obejas, and before dismissing another dissenter with “or just be an absolutist if that makes you feel good.”
The problem is that, even aside from the powerful argument against utilitarianism made by Chris Hedges, this is very familiar rhetoric. It’s rhetoric that has been used extensively by the political class as they implement austerity policies (which is what Emanuel’s budget is): These are tough decisions, but they are necessary, and so in fact their unpalatable nature makes it even more admirable that “progressive” politicians make them.
That’s clever, effective spin, which is to say it’s also disingenuous hokum. It’s actually much more difficult to adhere to a moral position than it is to compromise it for personal and professional ease, and in few places is this more true than modern American politics. Compromise the needs and wants of your constitutents to stay in the good graces of your party, and the mainstream media will laud you: Take a stand, and you will be pushed to the margins.
And in the specific case of austerity policies, this is even more of a fallacy: We have to find somewhere to make these tough cuts, we are told, because there is no money. None. Not a cent. The cupboard is bare. We are told this by our millionaire mayor, while he holds court with his fellow millionaires and supports state tax breaks for wealthy corporate interests (rejected yesterday by the Illinois House).
It’s no wonder that people are able to see through this, and those Occupy Chicago members who mic checked Alderman Moore expressed a clear-eyed understanding of the charade: “We are not interested in excuses or explanations. It’s a song we’ve heard before,” they announced. “Every time cuts like these are made, we are assured that more can be done with less.”