Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed changes to the city’s parade ordinance that severely limit our right to peaceable assembly and free speech. His proposal criminalizes the act of expressing dissent, minimizes the time and place where people can protest, gives police more authority to suppress protesters, and add extensive rules and restrictions that hyper-bureaucratize the process of obtaining a permit and severely limit the fluidity of demonstrations.
Although Mayor Emanuel initially claimed these measures were temporary and in response to the upcoming NATO and G8 summits in May, the mayor’s office has since admitted that this legislation would be permanent. 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. Non-profit organizations, unions, religious organizations, and all those who would defend the rights of the citizenry, in any context, must speak out now, before it’s too late. Mayor Emanuel seeks to stifle dissent at a time when it is more urgent than ever that our voices be heard.
The mayor has offered a Substitute Ordinance in response to the opposition the prior one received from the public and city council. Don’t be fooled, the substitute ordinance removes some superficially harmful language, but at it’s core still fundamentally alters how the City of Chicago can define your right to Free Assembly.
Some key points of Mayor Emanuel’s proposal include:
- Public Assemblies would be limited to sidewalks, excluding them from the public way
- The maximum fine for protesters resisting arrest or obstructing an officer (which includes simply going limp while police cuff you) would double to $1,000, and the minimum fine would be increased from $50 to $200.
- Amplified sound would only be allowed 8am and 10pm.
- People would be required to have their any recording equipment, sound amplification equipment, banners, signs, or other attention-getting devices to be approved for a permit
- At least a week prior to the march, every contingent would have to be registered with the city.
- Sidewalks would also be subject to the same demands as the streets, giving the police discretion to enforce the ordinance.
We, Occupy Rogers Park and Occupy the SouthSide, are writing to ask for your support and participation in our action to block this proposal. We hope you will join us in defending our basic democratic rights.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “Letter from Birmingham”