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Protester Pushback: Mayor 1% Emanuel Concedes Part of 'Sit Down and Shut Up' Plan

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel cancels plan to increase protester fines

Common Dreams staff

In December Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced anti-protester legislation for the upcoming NATO and G-8 summits in Chicago. Part of his plan was to to increase the minimum fine from $25 to $200 and double the maximum fine to $1,000.

His plan, dubbed the 'Sit Down and Shut Up' ordinance, was slammed by many as an attack on free speech. On Tuesday, however, protesters received a partial victory when Mayor Emanuel agreed to drop the fine increase plan.

The Mayor apparently felt the heat of opposition, reports the Chicago Tribune:

The mayor had proposed doubling the maximum fine for resisting arrest to $1,000. McCarthy offered a substitute ordinance at a City Council hearing Tuesday that keeps the fine for resisting or obstructing a police officer at a range of $25 to $500.

"You listen to people and you hear them, that doesn't mean you don't make alterations," Emanuel said. "I haven't changed the objective."

ABC7Chicago reports:

"We don't want to give the impression that we're looking to do anything about the 1st Amendment except protect it," said Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy.

The Sun-Times reports that many of Emanuel's proposals remain:

Surviving measures include: more surveillance cameras; parks and beaches closed until 6 a.m.; sweeping parade restrictions and higher fees for those events and empowering McCarthy to “deputize” out-of-state law enforcement personnel experienced in handling civil unrest.

The mayor would also be granted sweeping authority to purchase goods and services for the summits — without City Council approval or competitive bidding — provided those items cannot be purchased under existing contracts.

“If these ordinances pass ... all bets are off. If the federal government decides to nix the permit we’ve already received, all bets are off. Why should people respect the law if the law does not respect them?” said Andy Thayer, a spokesman for the Coalition Against the NATO G-8 War and Poverty Agenda.

At a press conference yesterday, a broad group expressed their concerns over the mayor's plan:

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