ACLU: Secret Service has set NATO security perimeter

FILE - In this file photo, McCormick Place is seen against the Chicago Skyline. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

April 24, 2012 8:18:43 PM PDT
The ACLU said Tuesday that the Secret Service has set its security perimeter around McCormick Place during the NATO Summit next month.

The ACLU tells ABC7 that the Secret Service set the inner security perimeter around McCormick Place as Lake Michigan to Indiana Street, east to west, and 21st to 25th streets, north to south. East of Lake Shore Drive, the northern boundary is McFetridge Drive, according to the ACLU.

Also, the Secret Service will close down LSD from Roosevelt to 31 st Street and I-55 from I-94 to LSD while NATO meetings are in session at McCormick Place, the ACLU says.

US Secret Service spokesman George Ogilve confirms there was a meeting with the ACLU Tuesday, but he declined to discuss specifics or confirm the accuracy of the ACLU's perimeter information.

"We are working with any groups impacted to make sure we hear any and all concerns. Specific details will not be released until 2-4 weeks prior to the event," Ogilvie said.

The ACLU threatened court action if the Secret Service did not release details in what they felt was a fair amount of time.

"This may be the premiere convention site in our city and the country, but it's not a good place to facilitate free speech," said Harvey Grossman, ACLU. "We're hoping this is a mecca of free speech for the weekend, and we're hoping all branches of government facilitate that."

Earlier on Tuesday, security experts met with apartment building owners and managers from the Loop, South Loop and Near West Side to try to put their concerns about the NATO summit to rest.

"I would say to you, let's relax, let the professionals do what they do best and let's have a good time during this 24, 48 hours," said Terry Hillard, Hillard Heintze Security.

Officials say with anywhere from 100 to 140 motorcades going between McCormick Place and hotels where dignitaries are staying, any major disruptions during the summit will more than likely come from traffic congestion, not protesters.

Permits have been granted for six protest events. Still, officials are prepared to crack down on unruly demonstrators.

"We embrace and we will welcome First Amendment activity," said Deb Kirby, Chicago Police Department. "But criminal conduct will be addressed. And we will address it appropriately, and surgically in terms of making sure that we are able to stop criminal conduct while at the same time supporting first amendment conduct."

The NATO summit will take place May 20-21 in Chicago.