Published on Monday, January 9, 2012 by CommonDreams.org
Occupy Rogers Park, Occupy the South Side campaign against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s NATO/G-8 ordinance; “This measure is a permanent attack on public protest in the City of Chicago.”
Last month Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced anti-protester legislation for the upcoming NATO and G-8 summits in Chicago.
Chicago’s WBEZ reported:
“During the summits, which could draw thousands of protesters, Emanuel wants to increase the minimum fine from $25 to $200 and double the maximum fine to $1,000. His proposed ordinance would also close parks, playgrounds and beaches overnight for longer periods of time.”
This past Tuesday, Emanuel clarified that these measures would in fact be permanent, and not just during the time of the summits. From WBEZ:
In fact, Emanuel said his proposal to dramatically increase fines for protesters who resist arrest – even passively – should be permanent. Some of the other sweeping powers the mayor is seeking – one would allow his office to unilaterally approve some city contracts – would expire once the May summits are over, he said.
This morning, Occupy Chicago reacted harshly to Emanuel’s plan, which they call the ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’ ordinance. From the Occupy Chicago website:
This ordinance consists of a host of bureaucratic tools created by and for the 1% to relegate, abridge, fine, arrest, and silence our speech. It is an attempt to bully and intimidate with increased police power and fines the brave working people who demand the ability to participate democratically in the organizing of our society. It is an attempt, by the 1%, to restrict and regulate the voice of the people when it upsets the structure that put them in power. The timing of the ordinance demonstrates that it has nothing to do with public safety but that its sole purpose is to stifle the voice and trample upon the constitutional liberties of all the people of Chicago. It is the blatant criminalizing of any public assembly that does not serve the interest of the 1%. It is the handcuffing of democracy. Occupy Chicago condemns this ordinance and demands that they be revoked. Those who are on the side of the democracy of the 99% will stand with us.
This morning, Occupy the South Side and Occupy Rogers Park delivered a warning to all of the city’s aldermen, indicating that if they supported the mayor’s resolution, they should expext strong resistance.
From their letter to the aldermen:
As you are no doubt aware, Mayor Emanuel sponsored this ordinance and has promoted it in the media as a “temporary” measure aimed at controlling protesters during specified events taking place later this year. As you’ve surely read, the Mayor has since been forced to retract his claim that these changes were ever meant to be temporary. Another blatant inconsistency is that the ordinance applies to the entire city, while the NATO and G8 summits occur only downtown. Other inconsistencies in the presentation of this ordinance are similarly problematic.
Given what the ordinance actually says, it cannot be construed as an effort to protect the integrity of G8 and NATO conferences. This measure is a permanent attack on public protest in the City of Chicago. The consequences of this attack will be far reaching, and will be felt by protesters throughout the city, most of whom will never have any connection to the protests associated with these events.
As you are also aware, we celebrate the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 16, 2012. Dr. King’s legacy is not one of obedience to municipal authorities, but rather the inspiring story of a man who led a community that was willing to face down oppressive lawmakers by violating exactly the type of ordinance the Mayor is asking you to support.
It is difficult to overstate the contrast between celebrating the life and work of Dr. King on Monday, and codifying the suppression of dissent on Wednesday.
Occupy Chicago intends to keep the campaign up until January 18th, when the vote on the ordinances is scheduled.