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City Hall trying to cut deal with protesters, avoid legal battle as Democratic convention nears

You know, I'm kind of looking forward to the Dem Convention here! I've purchased a sky box with a great view with George Soros to take in all the exciting action.


As much as I enjoyed the spectacle at Columbia Univ and other Ivy's I think this will far surpass the hijinx.


I hope the negotiations go well...haha.


City Hall trying to cut deal with protesters, avoid legal battle as Democratic convention nears

Federal and local officials have repeatedly said they are ready for what could be one of the biggest events to hit Chicago in decades. It’s been described by one Chicago police official as bigger than the 2012 NATO Summit and 1996 Democratic National Convention.


By Jon Seidel and Michael Puente | WBEZ

Jun 6, 2024, 3:19pm CDT



City attorneys are trying to strike a deal with groups suing to protest near the United Center during the Democratic National Convention, with a little more than two months to go before Chicago becomes the center of the political universe for a few days in August.


City Hall previously tried to steer the protests three miles east of the United Center to Columbus Drive in Grant Park. But city attorney Andrew Worseck told a federal judge Thursday that it now plans to offer them a route that is “United Center adjacent.” He said he planned to make the offer in a “confidential conversation,” and he did not disclose the details of the path in court.


It’s unclear whether that new proposal will be acceptable to the groups that claim the city has unconstitutionally denied them their right to protest where their voices might be heard by national political leaders, including President Joe Biden.


If a deal isn’t reached, the dispute could force a ruling in federal court just weeks — or days — before the convention. Worseck appeared Thursday before U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood, who presides over a lawsuit brought by groups concerned with the Israel-Hamas war.


Another case, brought by groups concerned with abortion and bodily rights, is pending before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin.


Christopher Williams, an attorney representing the protest groups in Wood’s courtroom, said he expects to hear more details about the city’s proposal during a phone call Friday.


“I don’t think anybody can reasonably believe, including the city attorneys, that putting protesters … miles away meets the First Amendment requirements,” Williams said.


Attorney Chris Williams speaks about the rights of individuals to protest during a news conference at Federal Plaza regarding the right to protest outside the Democratic National Convention.Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Federal and local officials have repeatedly said they are ready for what could be one of the biggest events to hit Chicago in decades. It’s been described by one Chicago police official as bigger than the 2012 NATO Summit and the 1996 Democratic National Convention and expected to draw “well over a million people to come and enjoy the city.”


But lawsuits over the protest sites continue to linger. The complaint before Wood was filed by the Chicago Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, the Anti-War Coalition, and Students for a Democratic Society at UIC. It stresses that Biden is “the one person who could stop the suffering in Gaza with a single phone call.”


They sought to protest near the United Center on either the first or last day of the convention.


The separate case before Durkin was filed by Bodies Outside of Unjust Laws and activists Andrew Thayer, Kristi Keorkunian and Linda Loew. They write in their lawsuit that, despite the Democratic Party’s “branding as a champion of reproductive rights and an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, the party has not done enough to protect the right to bodily autonomy from a devastating series of attacks.”


The group originally wanted to start their protest on Michigan Avenue the day before the convention, on Aug. 18.


City Hall denied the various applications but said the groups could protest elsewhere. Specifically, the city offered to let them demonstrate on Columbus Drive, between Jackson and Roosevelt.


“The message is clear,” one lawsuit alleges. “[The city] will tolerate marches during the convention only if they are nowhere near the convention or its delegates.”


It called the alternate route “virtually invisible to the protesters’ intended audience.”


‘Security footprint’ plan for Democratic Convention kicked to City Council for Wednesday vote

Lawyers for Bodies Outside of Unjust Laws have said the controversy resembles a Chicago case dating back to the 1970s. A group carrying the mantle of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sought a permit to demonstrate in white neighborhoods around Marquette Park.


The city instead proposed a route through predominantly Black neighborhoods. A judge wrote in 1976 that the move “had the effect of depriving plaintiffs of their First Amendment rights.”

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