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Rahm Ramps up the Repression in Chicago: New Protest Rules Ahead of the G-8/NATO Meetings

(photo: Kevin Gebhardt-WHCI News, flickr)

(photo: Kevin Gebhardt-WHCI News, flickr)

Ahead of the overlapping G-8 and NATO summits in Chicago May 19th-21st Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ramped up the repression of principled dissent in a city that has quite the history of it.

Just three months after closing down Occupy Chicago before it could even develop an overnight encampment, “Rahmbo” has introduced two new ordinances that would overhaul the city’s existing laws dealing with protests and parades. Dubbed by Occupy Chicago as the “Sit Down and Shut Up” ordinance, the measures include increased fines for resisting arrest, reduced opening hours for public parks, and much stricter parade regulations. Together, they are widely seen as an effort to stifle free speech under the guise of defending the public from unwieldy “anarchists.”

The mayor is keen to avoid adversity around meetings designed to elevate the status of a city long bent on shaking its “Second City” image. On the heels of Obama’s election in 2008, Chicago’s political establishment has sought to parlay their electoral triumph into a watershed moment for the city’s economic elite. After a disastrously failed Olympics bid, these twin meetings present the best opportunity to “showcase our extraordinary city to the world,” as Emanuel puts it. However, if these measures are any indication, it is Chicago’s shameful tradition of political repression that will be drawing all of the attention around the summits.

One ordinance ups the minimum fine for resisting arrest from $25 to $200, while the other adds an array of inordinately burdensome filing requirements to the existing parade law . Examples of the new obligations in the second ordinance include a mandate that organizers account for all “recording equipment, sound amplification equipment, banners, signs, or other attention-getting devices to be used in connection with the parade” at least a week prior. Furthermore, organizers will be required to appoint one “parade marshal” for every 100 participants.

As such, the ordinance does not draw a distinction between festival parades and political marches, which is obscene given that it is virtually impossible to accurately predict the number of participants in the latter, let alone control who might show up with a banner or a bullhorn. Compliance with the stipulations of this ordinance will be virtually impossible, and, yet, violations will see minimum fines increase 20-fold from $50 to $1000.

The mayor initially described the changes as temporary measures designed to address the presumed influx of protesters from throughout the world, though organizers adeptly noticed that the ordinances’ language would suggest otherwise. In fact, the only temporary change is the stipulation regarding the related spending authority. When the inconsistency was raised to Emanuel in a Press Conference, he replied: “I misspoke, and I take responsibility for the confusion.” However, protest organizers believe he made no “mistake,” and instead was intentionally being misleading. [cont’d]

CommunityMy FDL

Rahm Ramps up the Repression in Chicago: New Protest Rules Ahead of the G-8/NATO Meetings

(photo: Kevin Gebhardt-WHCI News, flickr)

(photo: Kevin Gebhardt-WHCI News, flickr)

Ahead of the overlapping G-8 and NATO summits in Chicago May 19th-21st Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ramped up the repression of principled dissent in a city that has quite the history of it. Just three months after closing down Occupy Chicago before it could even develop an overnight encampment, “Rahmbo” has introduced two new ordinances that would overhaul the city’s existing laws dealing with protests and parades. Dubbed by Occupy Chicago as the “Sit Down and Shut Up” ordinance, the measures include increased fines for resisting arrest, reduced opening hours for public parks, and much stricter parade regulations. Together, they are widely seen as an effort to stifle free speech under the guise of defending the public from unwieldy “anarchists.”

The mayor is keen on avoid adversity around meetings designed to elevate the status of a city long bent on shaking its “Second City” image. On the heels of Obama’s election in 2008, Chicago’s political establishment has sought to parlay their electoral triumph into a watershed moment for the city’s economic elite. After a disastrously failed Olympics bid, these twin meetings present the best opportunity to “showcase our extraordinary city to the world,” as Emanuel puts it. However, if these measures are any indication, it is Chicago’s shameful tradition of political repression that will be drawing all of the attention around the summits.

One ordinance ups the minimum fine for resisting arrest from $25 to $200, while the other adds an array of inordinately burdensome filing requirements to the existing parade law . Examples of the new obligations in the second ordinance include a mandate that organizers account for all “recording equipment, sound amplification equipment, banners, signs, or other attention-getting devices to be used in connection with the parade” at least a week prior. Furthermore, organizers will be required to appoint one “parade marshal” for every 100 participants.

As such, the ordinance does not draw a distinction between festival parades and political marches, which is obscene given that it is virtually impossible to accurately predict the number of participants in the latter, let alone control who might show up with a banner or a bullhorn. Compliance with the stipulations of this ordinance will be virtually impossible, and, yet, violations will see minimum fines increase 20-fold from $50 to $1000.

The mayor initially described the changes as temporary measures designed to address the presumed influx of protesters from throughout the world, though organizers adeptly noticed that the ordinances’ language would suggest otherwise. In fact, the only temporary change is the stipulation regarding the related spending authority. When the inconsistency was raised to Emanuel in a Press Conference, he replied: “I misspoke, and I take responsibility for the confusion.” However, protest organizers believe he made no “mistake,” and instead was intentionally being misleading. (more…)

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