A coalition of advocates that were denied a NATO summit protest permit say they will take an alternate protest route the city verbally offered on March 19. The Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda, or CANG8, met with Mike Simon, assistant commissioner for the Chicago Department of Transportation today, and said that they were encouraged the city would approve the alternate route by Wednesday, a deadline set by CANG8.
"The city said they had remembered they had offered this at at one point," says Joe Iosbaker, a CANG8 member at the meeting. "It seemed that everything we said sounded reasonable to them."According to Iosbaker, Simon said that he would have to consult with other city officials before granting the permit.
In a press conference on the issue this morning, Andy Thayer of the Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda, or CANG8, challenged Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a public debate about the merits of NATO, particularly its involvement in the Afghanistan War. “These are sort of the issues that need to be discussed today, and not is this march route preferable to that march route,” Thayer said.
Raymond Prosser, a city administrative law judge, ruled yesterday that a planned Sunday afternoon, May 20, CANG8 march from Daley Plaza to McCormick Place convention center would substantially interfere with traffic on the first day of the two-day NATO summit. The McCormick Place convention center will host the summit.
CANG8 had applied for, and were granted, an identical permit by the city for a May 19 protest of the G8 summit, which the White House subsequently moved from Chicago to Camp David.
Instead of starting at Daley Plaza, the march would start at Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park. Much of the parade route, though, would be similar to what CANG8 originally proposed, including going down State Street, and then traveling south on Michigan Avenue toward McCormick Place.
“We think that we could live with those [route plans] as unacceptable as we find them,” Thayer said.
Also, CANG8 wants a public commitment by the city to defend this parade route, if the U.S. Secret Service deems it a security risk. The Secret Service is not part of negotiations between CANG8 and the city.
“We will not accept a security blanket around McCormick place,” Thayer said.
CANG8 members reiterated that they would protest NATO regardless of the permit outcome, and say that they go through the permit process to enhance the safety and reduce the risk of arrest for potential protesters.
There will be NATO protests independent of CANG8 and the outcome of the permit process. However, CANG8 – whose membership includes Occupy Chicago – has coordinated with local and national groups.
“We were promised thousands and thousands of people – mostly Chicagoans – marching May 20,” Iosabker says. “We have a lot of work to do.”