Abortion rights groups sue Chicago over permit to protest outside United Center during DNC

Craig Wall Image
Thursday, May 2, 2024
Abortion rights group files lawsuit to protest outside Chicago DNC
An abortion rights group is among those suing Chicago to protest outside United Center during the 2024 Democratic National Convention.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The pressure is ratcheting up on the city to ease restrictions on demonstrations connected to the Democratic National Convention.

A coalition of groups planning a march for abortion rights sued the city Thursday morning because their permit was denied.

Abortion rights groups want to be able to march down Michigan Avenue on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in August to make their case to arriving delegates who will be staying in hotels in Chicago.

So permit or no permit, we will be marching on the eve of the Democratic Convention
Andy Thayer, Bodies Outside of Unjust Laws

"Clearly the most important thing is that there is some way for protesters to reach those democratic delegates that they have really important messages for anything else," ACLU of Illinois attorney Rebecca Glenberg said.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the city's denial of the group's permit request. They are also asking a judge to declare the city's ordinance on parade permits and the new security zone ordinance, which will allow law enforcement to regulate demonstrations near the United Center which will host the DNC, unconstitutional.

"It's 2024, and we have zero tolerance for milquetoast Democrats' support," said Kristi Keorkunian with Bodies Outside of Unjust Laws. "They're not listening. We have to make them."

The coalition said there is precedence for their request, pointing to the 2012 NATO summit where demonstrators were allowed to march on Michigan Avenue. It is the latest lawsuit against the city over DNC demonstration restrictions.

While the Secret Service has the final say on what the security perimeter will look like, the agency is leaving it up to the city to determine where protests can be held outside of the still-to-be-determined zone .

"So to preserve democracy, they shut down the First Amendment," said Andy Thayer with Bodies Outside of Unjust Laws. "To preserve democracy, they told every group that it can't protest within sight and sound of their intended First Amendment audiences."

The groups noted that during the 1996 DNC, protesters were allowed to be much closer to the United Center than they will be this summer.

"So permit or no permit, we will be marching on the eve of the Democratic Convention," Thayer said.