Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (photo: afagen )

Antiwar groups and organizers have come together to demand and ensure Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city of Chicago protect their right to hold peaceful permitted rallies and marches when the G8 and NATO meet in May of next year. They have submitted requests for permits more than ten months before the NATO/G8 summits are slated to be held and on July 28 they submitted a letter to the mayor’s office urging the city to commit to guaranteeing their civil liberties during the meetings.

Joe Iosbaker, a spokesperson for a NATO/G8 working group organizing protests, explains representatives of a broad coalition came together last week to not only ensure the city doesn’t violate their civil liberties but also “demand they be granted permits for appropriate venues to rally” and that they be permitted to march to where the NATO/G8 will be meeting. The working group also wants a guarantee the city will not collaborate with the FBI and other “repressive agencies” to subvert their organizing. This is especially important because Iosbaker and twenty-two others in Chicago, Twin Cities and other areas of the Midwest had their homes raided and were issued subpoenas for an investigation into their organizing and political beliefs in the final months of last year.

Pat Hunt, a Code Pink organizer from Chicago working to organize for the NATO/G8 meetings, notes the importance of getting the city to publicly commit to not using spies or infiltrators:

We know there [were spies and infiltrators] up in St. Paul for the RNC and we also know that there were in 2005 for our antiwar work in Chicago…If all they were doing was sitting back and reporting, that would be one thing. It’s still wrong but that would be one thing. What they do is they become provocateurs meaning they make suggestions like if we can’t get in let’s break down the doors. And then they go back and say there was a discussion about breaking down the doors. The fact that they were the one that brought it up never happens to come up.

A Chicago Sun-Times article indicates there is likely to be a wide crackdown on attempts to exercise civil liberties and constitutional rights during the meetings. In July, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy declared, “We have to train for mass arrests.” And also said, “We have to train 13,000 police officers in arrest procedures and containment procedures. At the same time, we will not stop patrolling the city.”

He told the Sun-Times the Chicago police would be sending “representatives” to Pittsburgh and Seattle to “learn how those cities dealt with massive protests.” And shared that the police department looks forward to the opportunity to “showcase the professionalism” of the department.

This is the extent of the city’s public response to the protesters’ organizing efforts so far. Iosbaker reports he submitted “permit requests for venues in the center of the city, to rally at Federal Plaza and the Daley Plaza.” The management of those venues has rules and regulations that require a response to permits within 2 weeks. But, over a month Iosbaker has heard nothing from the city on the permits. Thus, he says the working group is taking the city’s position on legal organizing efforts to be something along the lines of support for the mass arrest of anyone who tries to protest, as the permits have not been processed.

The working group hopes to hold a rally in one of the parks nearby the location where the meetings will likely be held, McCormick Place. But, the Chicago Parks Department has a regulation and will not deal with the permit requests until the first of 2012.

Reacting to this regulation, Iosbaker asks, do you think they are telling NATO, G8, and the Secret Service they can’t put in their plans to cordon off parks and any of the areas around McCormick Place until the first of next year?

Fight Back News, in their coverage of the activists’ visit to Emanuel’s office, highlighted the history of “police abuse” and obstruction of citizens’ right to protest. Andy Thayer of the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism (CCAWR), and the Gay Liberation Network, suggested the 2016 Olympics bid was lost because of such abuse. He spoke about the “the unlawful mass arrest of 800 marchers carried out by 2,000 riot police on the night the Iraq War began in 2003.” And, co-chair of the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC), Joe Lombardo, warned McCarthy was setting the “stage for violence on the part of the police.”

Iosbaker shares the Department of Justice has already put leaders of the working group under surveillance. A DOJ representative contacted the administration Kent College of Law, where they are planning to hold a national meeting on August 28. The representative asked about the plans of the working group. The college administration naively sent the email along to organizers and asked if they could answer the DOJ’s questions about the meetings.

Organizers are well aware of the likelihood that military intelligence, FBI, and local police, etc will be working together. They realize helicopters and armored vehicles armed with mechanisms for surveillance will be rolled out at the protests. They understand authorities begin preparations for these meetings immediately when the dates for meetings of this nature are announced. And, they understand a variety of tactics are used against organizers to undermine their ability to turn people out for protest actions.

But, the organizers also understand citizens must register opposition to these meetings. NATO, in cooperation with the US, represents unending wars and occupations that kill numerous civilians and cost trillions of dollars and ultimately lead to government austerity measures. That cannot go unchallenged. The G8, represents an elite body that pushes measures that force the poor and working class people around the globe to pay for the elites’ crises, business and record profits. That must be confronted. So, in the face of possible repression, the organizers are committed to organizing protests because not doing so would be unconscionable.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (photo: afagen )

Antiwar groups and organizers have come together to demand and ensure Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city of Chicago protect their right to hold peaceful permitted rallies and marches when the G8 and NATO meet in May of next year. They have submitted requests for permits more than ten months before the NATO/G8 summits are slated to be held and on July 28 they submitted a letter to the mayor’s office urging the city to commit to guaranteeing their civil liberties during the meetings.

Joe Iosbaker, a spokesperson for a NATO/G8 working group organizing protests, explains representatives of a broad coalition came together last week to not only ensure the city doesn’t violate their civil liberties but also “demand they be granted permits for appropriate venues to rally” and that they be permitted to march to where the NATO/G8 will be meeting. The working group also wants a guarantee the city will not collaborate with the FBI and other “repressive agencies” to subvert their organizing. This is especially important because Iosbaker and twenty-two others in Chicago, Twin Cities and other areas of the Midwest had their homes raided and were issued subpoenas for an investigation into their organizing and political beliefs in the final months of last year.

Pat Hunt, another person from Chicago working to organize for the NATO/G8 meetings, notes the importance of getting the city to publicly commit to not using spies or infiltrators:

We know there [were spies and infiltrators] up in St. Paul for the RNC and we also know that there were in 2005 for our antiwar work in Chicago…If all they were doing was sitting back and reporting, that would be one thing. It’s still wrong but that would be one thing. What they do is they become provocateurs meaning they make suggestions like if we can’t get in let’s break down the doors. And then they go back and say there was a discussion about breaking down the doors. The fact that they were the one that brought it up never happens to come up.

A Chicago Sun-Times article indicates there is likely to be a wide crackdown on attempts to exercise civil liberties and constitutional rights during the meetings. In July, Chicago Police Superintendent declared, “We have to train for mass arrests.” And also said, “We have to train 13,000 police officers in arrest procedures and containment procedures. At the same time, we will not stop patrolling the city.”  [cont’d.] (more…)

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

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