NATO protesters take their demand to march to court today; will hold press conference a half-hour before court date

CHICAGO, IL – A team of social justice activists planning one of the NATO meeting’s major protests will go to court today (Tuesday, March 27th) in an appeal of the City’s rejection of their march permit application.

The Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8) will hold a press conference today at 10 a.m., a half-hour before their court date, in front of the courthouse at 400 W. Superior Street. The hearing itself is scheduled to begin in Room 111 of 400 W. Superior at 10:30 a.m.

CANG8 said Chicago officials used the new ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’ ordinances to deny a protest permit they had previously approved. Reportedly, the activists’ Application was identical to one city had approved for the day before under old ordinance.

The protesters, representing CANG8, had asked the City to allow them to push the date of a previously approved rally and march forward by a day from May 19 to May 20. The previously approved rally and march would have put protesters within ‘sight and sound’ of McCormick Place, where the NATO and G8 meetings were both scheduled to be held.

The City rejected that proposal late last week, refusing to change the permit date by a day — for exactly the same gathering and route they had already approved when both the G8 and NATO meetings were planning to converge in Chicago. Their reasoning? That there are not “a sufficient number of on-duty police officers or other city employees” to deal with the proposed May 20th march. Incredibly, earlier this year the City made no such claims when they approved an identical permit application for March 19 — when both the G8 and NATO were scheduled to gather at McCormick Place. The previous permit application was made under the terms of the old permit ordinance (10-8-330).

By noting that the City does not have sufficient “on-duty” personnel, Chicago officials are utilizing the language of the new “sit-down and shut-up” ordinances to justify their rejection of the permit. Under the old ordinance, the city could only reject an application if it lacked “a sufficient number of peace officers and traffic control aides” — on- or off-duty.

Protesters refused to agree to a City counter-proposal that would have ghettoized their route to streets with virtually no public visibility.

Activists argued that if the City truly lacked sufficient police and other resources to host the summits and accommodate previously approved First Amendment activities — resources they apparently felt they had when they first approved the permit request in January — Chicago officials should have declined to host the summits in the first place.

Protesters contend that with the G8 meeting now relocated to Camp David, arguably there are actually significantly greater police resources available than when the original permit for May 19th was applied for — and granted — three months ago.

The City claimed in its rejection that the CANG8 march will “substantially and unnecessarily interfere with traffic in the area” — on a Sunday — yet the City had no such objection to the identical route when scheduled for Saturday, when civilian traffic is significantly higher.

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