City Council approves Emanuel's G8, NATO rules

January 17, 2012 10:00:00 PM PST
Seventeen weeks before the G8 and NATO summits begin this spring, the City Council approved new rules governing public demonstrations in Chicago. By a 45-4 vote, the "parade ordinance" was revised for the first time in over 40 years, inciting loud protests at City Hall.

Protesters outside Wednesday's City Council meeting voiced their displeasure, yelling "shame on Rahm." On the same floor, not far away in the City Council chamber, Mayor Emanuel and the aldermen could hear the demonstrators' chant. But the mayor's plan to change the ordinances regulating parades and protests in the city was a done deal.

"It shows a great deal of leadership on your part to step out to take the criticism and to organize and prepare our city for this great event," said Ald. Ray Colon, 35th Ward.

The G8 and NATO summits will be held in Chicago in mid May. One ordinance would give the mayor temporary spending authority to prepare for the meetings and the police superintendent the right to deputize officers from out of state. Another ordinance updates 40 year old regulations for parades, i.e. demonstrations, and increases fines for protesters who violate city laws.

"I never thought that change on an ordinance that's 40 years old was gonna be easy," said Emanuel.

Alderman Leslie Hairston of the 5th Ward was one of four 'no' votes. She worries about how city officials could use the new parade ordinance after the G8/NATO meetings.

"I still have concerns about freedom of expression and civil liberties," Hairston said. "It would allow them to use those tools in that way to try to regulate or to stop someone from assembling or even having a parade."

As the aldermen approved the ordinances by an overwhelming majority, at least three shouting protesters were escorted from the council chamber.

In his post-meeting news conference, Mayor Emanuel said the four decades-old parade ordinance was overdue for the overhaul that he insisted had less to do with G8/NATO and more to do with his change agenda.

"All of these steps are part of a reform and change that I think are necessary for our city to move forward," said Emanuel.

As ABC7 reported Tuesday, the new restrictions and fines were scaled back from what the mayor originally wanted. The unknown variable remains how many demonstrators might come to the city from around the world, and what might they care about Chicago's new ordinance.