City talks security for Obama event

Senator to hold Election Night rally in Grant Park
October 23, 2008 3:35:05 PM PDT
Thousands of people are expected to pack Grant Park on election night for a rally with presidential candidate and native Chicagoan Barack Obama.The City of Chicago is working diligently on the security plan for the event, which Mayor Daley estimates will cost $2 million. The Obama campaign will foot the bill, according to Daley.

"What I will tell you is that the cost of this event will not be paid for by the tax payers of the city of Chicago," said Ray Orozco, OEMC commissioner.

Big events in Grant Park-- like the visit of Pope John Paul nearly 30-years ago -- are tricky to manage and expensive to hold. With the city facing a huge budget crisis, the Obama campaign will pay the freight for the whole thing - according to city officials - who said Thursday afternoon they are thrilled and proud to be hosting the Obama event on November 4, but pledged that no city resources are going to be pulled out of the neighborhoods to serve the rally.

The mayor said he would have preferred to have the Obama election night event held at the United Center - a more manageable indoor venue, but Obama wants it in Grant Park.

"Could you see me saying no to Senator Obama? Give me a break," said Mayor Richard Daley. "I'm not that dumb."

Early work is underway to prepare Hutchinson Field for election night. That section of Grant Park could hold 60 to 70,000 people. City officials say it's just too early to know whether the event would expand to a larger space within the park. At this point they can't say if it'd be open to the public, or a ticketed event.-- although a source tells ABC7News that "there are security concerns with a presidential campaign that may merit a ticketed event." The Obama campaign hasn't made that decision yet.

At the candidate's other outdoor rallies -- like one attended by 100,000 last Saturday in St Louis -- a perimeter is set up, and everyone entering goes through a security checkpoint.

"Obviously, if you've got someone who could be the president-elect, there's going to be magnetometers and screening. We will defer to the Secret Service to see how they want to put those protocols in place," said Supt. Jody Weis, Chicago Police Department.


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