Emanuel takes 'dramatic steps' to prep for G8, NATO

December 14, 2011 4:15:32 PM PST
A little more than five months and counting until the historic NATO and G8 summits take place in Chicago.

In this Intelligence Report: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking what some are calling "dramatic steps" to handle protesters.

As anarchists align for those May days in Chicago, they will be greeted by a new city ordinance designed to control protesters: stiffer fines and less access to public property during the two summits at McCormick Place.

Mayor Emanuel insists he is not clamping down on 1st Amendment rights, saying it is his job to protect them, but at the same time ensure the city is safe.

The city is preparing for. tens of thousands of protesters expected to make their voices heard during the May meetings between members of the G8 and NATO.

"These two ordinances allow us to hold that conference here in the City of Chicago and do it in the proper way," Emanuel said.

Under the proposal, police superintendent Garry McCarthy will be able to deputize officers from other agencies, including Illinois State Police and the FBI.

The National Guard is involved in the state's conceptual plan, but authorities won't say how they might be involved, only that they happen to be training in Illinois while the conferences are going on.

"There's heads of state, foreign ministers, finance ministers, defense ministers, people that also advise leaders on national security," said Emanuel. "It's a unique thing."

Fines for resisting arrest will go up dramatically. Currently, the range is $25 - $500. During the summits, the range increases to $200 - $1,000.

Parks, playground and beaches will be closed from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. -- instead of the current 4 a.m. -- in an effort to prevent protesters from camping out on public property.

"People have the right to have their 1st Amendment rights, and I'm going to make sure those are protected because it's important," said Emanuel.

The mayor and his staff will also be able to give out contracts for goods and services for the meetings without getting approval from the City Council.

"Again, this is a one time-- guys this is not a big deal," said Emanuel.

Office of Emergency Management and Communications Executive Director Gary Schenkel says the city has done big events before and will be ready to handle the massive crowds.

"By the time this event rolls around we will be well rehearsed, well practiced, and have an event that will really showcase the diversity of the city," said Schenkel.

One organizer of the protests planned for Chicago in May says there could be crowds of more than 35,000 activists. He is basing that on the number that demonstrated in St. Paul, Minnesota, during the 2008 Republican National Convention.

There are numerous requests for city permits by protest groups. It is still unclear where those protests will be allowed to take place.

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