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Mayor 1%’s New Rules Try to Thwart Protest While Groundswell of Dissent Grows

Mr. Mayor (photo: juggernautco)

The following is a guest post from Andy Thayer and Christine Geovanis, who are both working with the Coalition Against NATO/G8 (CANG8). The post is on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new protest ordinances, which The Dissenter has covered, and were passed in “preparation” for the NATO/G8 meetings that will be taking place in May. Their perspectives are being featured here because they are both influential and hard-working activists in Chicago, who understand how these new ordinances will impact Chicago. These two individuals are also willing to keep on fighting Emanuel no matter what he tries to do to get in the way of people’s rights to assemble and engage in freedom of speech and that really comes through in this post.

To help folks separate spin from fact, we’ve put together this analysis to help you understand how local rules have changed in ways that undercut protest and political speech. While these revisions will not deter us from speaking out and protesting, they do change the excuses the police may use to try to prevent us from protesting.

It’s also important that we understand these changes so we can educate our friends and neighbors – and fight for meaningful change that puts people’s rights and the greater good ahead of the fear-mongering and greed that drove Mayor 1%’s push for these changes.

City Hall made only token changes to “improve” these revisions, and the worst of Mayor 1%’s proposed revisions remain. While the old protest ordinance was pretty terrible in its own right, the changes approved this week make it even worse. How? Because the revisions give the police more excuses to target protesters they don’t like and speech they oppose with greater fines and penalties. The revisions also give police more excuses to try and censor the tools we use to speak out – sound equipment, signs, banners and whatnot.

Let’s be clear, under the old ordinance, police routinely repressed speech they disliked anyway. More than a few protesters have been arrested for absolutely no reason, only to find that the police have cooked bogus charges as an afterthought – and an excuse for targeting them in the first place. [cont’d.]

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

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