Chicago bans anti-war march during NATO Summit

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen shake hands after unveiling the logo of the Chicago summit meeting (Reuters / Sebastien Pirlet)
A judge has rejected the demands of anti-war activists for a march to be held in Chicago during a NATO summit planned for November. The activists say the city’s arguments against the march defy logic.

­Anti-war activists filed a request to court after their initial demands for a march to be rescheduled were rejected by the City of Chicago.

Andy Thayer, an activist leader, says he will still be marching on May 20, the day the NATO summit opens.

I can say definitively we are marching on May 20,” he noted, as quoted by Reuters. “We will hold a peaceful protest.

The anti-war demonstrators originally planned to hold a march on May 19, the day another meeting of global leaders, the G8 Summit, closes in Chicago. However, when the summit’s venue was changed to Camp David, the activists decided to move their march a day forward to coincide with the start of the NATO summit.

But this request was rejected by the Chicago Transportation Department.

The department wrote back to Thayer, saying there were not enough on-duty police officers or other employees authorized to regulate traffic.

The commissioner finds that there are not available at the time of the parade a sufficient number of on-duty police officers, or other city employees authorized to regulate traffic, to police and protect lawful participants in the parade and non-participants,” the assistant commissioner of the department wrote to Thayer.

But Thayer says the argument makes no sense – as the police assured the public it had enough personnel to deal with the protests on May 19.

"It defies logic,” Thayer remarked. “Ultimately the city is … pursuing a political agenda of denying meaningful First Amendment expression of anti-war views.”

The city did advise the protesters to change their itinerary, but the alternative route will not pass through Daley Plaza in the city center, and will take much longer.

Thayer argues that the city’s reluctance to allow the peaceful demo is part of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s efforts to silence dissent.