With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rahm's retreat was phony

Protesting the mayor's latest assault on free speech.
With protesters chanting “We vote no” outside, a compliant city council approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s  plan to deny First Amendment rights to the thousands of protesters who are expected to come Chicago for the NATO and G-8 summits. The cost to taxpayers for the summits will likely exceed a billion dollars, if past summits are any indication.

Emanuel's threat to face-down protesters with an unprecedented show of military force was met with nationwide outrage and embarrassment, even on the part of many Emanuel supporters who fear a repeat of the 1968 "police riots" at the Democratic Convention. The mayor was forced to retreat. But his retreat turned out to be a sham. He backed off only a minor threat to levy excessive fines against protesters but kept the rest of his assault on constitutional rights intact.

According to the Sun-Times:
Surviving measures include: more surveillance cameras; parks and beaches closed until 6 a.m.; sweeping parade restrictions and higher fees for those events and empowering Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to “deputize” out-of-state law enforcement personnel in the event that demonstrators overwhelm Chicago Police. The mayor would also be granted sweeping authority to purchase goods and services for the summits — without City Council approval or competitive bidding — provided those items cannot be purchased under existing contracts.

Ald. Hairston
The council passed the anti-protest plan by a 41-5 vote with only one dissenting voice, that of Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), being raised.  “We have to be careful of how we regulate content. I still have concerns about freedom of expression and civil liberties,” Hairston said.

Shame on self-proclaimed progressives who voted for the plan,  like Ald. Joe Moore (49th) who applied his lips tightly on the mayor's behind.
“I congratulate Mayor Emanuel ... and other members of the mayor’s team for their open-mindedness and lack of defensiveness about their proposals. It is truly a refreshing change in City Hall,” Moore said.

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