Wednesday, January 18, 2012

City Council concludes its approval of Emanuel's protest rules

Posted By on 01.18.12 at 01:30 PM

Leslie Hairston
  • Leslie Hairston
As expected, the City Council signed off on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's ________ ordinances today.

In this particular case, you can fill in the blank with "parade and protest." In addition to new regulations for such events, the measures give his administration the authority to deputize police officers from outside Chicago and to enter into contracts without the normal bidding process in advance of the NATO and G-8 summits this spring. (You can read them, along with 49th Ward alderman Joe Moore's explanation for supporting them, here.)

The new protest rules inspired vehement opposition from activists and citizens' groups, ranging from unions and death penalty foes to Crain's Chicago Business and the Pro-Life Action League. But they still passed overwhelmingly, by a 45-4 count. The ordinance giving Emanuel widespread contracting authority for the summits also skated through, 41-5.

"This is not hindering anyone from protesting or demonstrating," said 27th Ward alderman Walter Burnett Jr., chairman of the special events committee, who shepherded one of the ordinances through the council. As activists shouted "Nay!" from the gallery, he praised Emanuel for backing off a proposal to raise the fines for resisting arrest from the current range of $25-to-$500 up to $200-to-$2,000. "Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for listening to us."

But not everyone was appeased.

"I do not think we've had enough time to see how far these measures go," said Fifth Ward alderman Leslie Hairston.

In fact, many aldermen didn't get a look at the latest round of rules changes until copies were handed out during the meeting called to approve them yesterday.

Hairston also noted that the new rules technically require march organizers to let the city know in advance if anyone plans to show up with a pet dog. Violators could face as much as ten days in jail and $2,000 fines. "I still think it inhibits spontaneous public assembly," she said.

Hairston was joined in opposing the parade and protest rules by Robert Fioretti (2nd), Will Burns (4th), and Nicholas Sposato (36th). The same four cast nays on the contracting and deputizing ordinance, along with Sandi Jackson (7th).

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