Protesters stage sit-in outside Emanuel's office

November 15, 2011 8:25:03 PM PST
A standoff took place at Chicago's City Hall Tuesday night after a couple dozen Occupy protesters threatened to stay in front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office all night long.

It comes after a very different scene in New York overnight where police cleared out and arrested hundreds of protesters. It's a scene that has played out in several cities this week -- but not here in Chicago.

City Hall closes at 5 p.m. Police would have been well within their right to kick out those engaging in a small sit-in on the fifth floor. But they haven't. Protesters and police agree on one thing: how they're being treated here has a lot to do with why demonstrations have so far remained peaceful.

Hours before City Council votes on cuts to mental health programs a handful of people, including Occupy Chicago protesters, staged a sit-in.

"Honestly I've been waiting for anybody to get angry enough about anything to get things moving," said Kelly Hayes, Occupy Chicago protester.

Meanwhile in New York the scene is much different. After police allowed Occupy demonstrators to take root in a park for two months, some fought back as riot squads evicted them overnight. A judge ruled Tuesday night that protesters can return to Zuccotti Park but they can't set up tents or tarps

"There is no ambiguity in the law here. The First Amendment protects speech. It does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space," said Michael Bloomberg, New York City mayor.

The night before in Oakland, similar scenes played out as police and protesters clashed.

So why has Chicago been spared?

"I think we've developed a mutual respect if you will," said Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

Last month Chicago police arrested more than 100 people in Grant Park, but they did it without riot gear and one by one, first giving protesters the option to leave.

"There's definitely a psychology to it. The mob mentality can very easily take place where if you treat people as a mob they act like a mob. We didn't. We treated them as individuals," said McCarthy.

"We just want to peacefully protest, that's all we want," said Hayes.

Chicago police do have contingency plans if protests turn violent. But McCarthy gave ABC7 the example that if someone in a crowd throws a rock at an officer, that person will be pulled from the crowd and arrested as opposed to having a wall of 100 hundreds officers try to take down all 100 protesters


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