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Chicago Denies Parade Permit for NATO Summit Protest

Police 'training for urban warfare'

- Common Dreams staff

UPDATE: The City of Chicago has denied a parade permit for the Coalition Against NATO/G8 to protest the NATO summit -- after granting a permit to the very same group to march against the now relocated G8 summit. The parade application was  the same as the one the city approved for a Saturday, May 19 protest against the G8 summit, which President Obama has now moved from Chicago to the remote presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel — who has had a battle of words over protest restrictions with activists since the original plans to host the G-8 and the NATO summits were announced last year — has repeatedly insisted that protesters’ First Amendment rights will be respected. But the Chicago Department of Transportation says that are not enough police to both regulate traffic and protect lawful protesters for a Sunday, May 20 NATO protest. The city proposed an alternative route away from McCormick Place, where the NATO Summit is being held. The Coalition Against NATO/G8 rejected the proposal Monday, but is open to negotiating an alternative route with the city.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

After approving a parade permit for a group protesting the G-8 and NATO summits in Chicago, the city has denied an identical application by the same group seeking to move their parade one day later in the wake of the White House’s decision to move the G-8 conference.

The demonstrators asked to move their march from Saturday, May 19, after word came that the G-8 meeting scheduled to start that day had been moved by President Barack Obama to Camp David. The protesters filed a permit that was identical to the one the city approved for Saturday, except the date of protest was moved to Sunday, May 20, when the NATO meeting is set to start.

But this time the city rejected the request, citing a lack of police officers as well as other security and logistics complications from the very summit the demonstrators are seeking to protest. [...]

Protesters, including the permit applicant, Andy Thayer, met with city officials today to discuss the city’s proposed alternative route. Thayer said they rejected the alternative, but will continue meeting with the city.

“Hopefully, we can work something out," Thayer said.

Although the same route had previously been approved for the first day of the G-8 summit, the denial states the city can’t handle such a demonstration on the first day of the NATO summit.

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As a NATO Summit in Chicago approaches, Occupy activists have begun organizing and preparing for what some are hoping "has the potential to be one of the biggest actions in the country in the last decade". After a weekend of Occupy anniversary protests, which resulted in police violence and mass arrests, Occupy organizers hope to focus all energy on NATO.

A Chicago demonstration was originally scheduled to protest the G8 summit. However, the White House moved the G8 to Camp David in anticipation of protests, leaving the NATO summit as the most accessible target for protesters. As the NATO summit begins May 20 protesters are conducting training sessions and organizing across the country months in advance.Occupy Chicago members celebrating the G-8 flight from Chicago (Photo: Heather Charles /Chicago Tribune)

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Occupy Protesters Organize for NATO Summit in Chicago (Chicago Tribune):

After a long weekend of protesting aimed at reinvigorating their movement, Occupy leaders from around the country set their sights on their biggest target of the spring — the NATO summit in Chicago.

Meeting in a sunny city park Sunday, they echoed the rallying cry of other protest groups: President Barack Obama's decision to drop plans for holding the G-8 economic summit in Chicago the same weekend as NATO was a victory that should encourage even more demonstrators to show up in May.

"G-8 left, I think, directly out of fear," said Brian Bean, a Chicago demonstrator who came to St. Louis to organize people for the NATO summit.

"What they are worried about is that, in an election year, the possibility that there's actually working-class resistance in the United States and globally and what that would look like in Obama's home city."

In between protests targeting agribusiness giant Monsanto Co.and the foreclosure practices of St. Louis-based Wells Fargo, organizers from Chicago encouraged movement leaders from nearly 20 other cities to talk up the NATO summit when they return home. They also compared notes on the nuts and bolts of protest practices.

"We're trying to plan a summit and we're trying to learn everything really fast," said Zoe Sigman, 22, who lives in Humboldt Park. [...]

Sitting at a picnic table under the Tower Grove Park cupola, Sigman and Bean asked for ideas from the crowd about how to coordinate housing and transportation to Chicago.

Bean said Chicago police have been "training for urban warfare," making it unlikely Occupiers were going to be successful in any effort to camp in public spaces. [...]

Sigman encouraged Occupy members from around the country to go back to their cities and host "teach-ins" to educate people about the functions of NATO so potential demonstrators would understand the message of the protest.

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