In early January activists in what later became known as CAIRC applied to hold a march in the city's Pilsen neighborhood on March 14th, roughly the 6th anniversary of the Iraq invasion. When the Daley administration didn't respond within the time required by its own parade permit ordinance, the activists assumed that they would automatically get the permit, as required under the ordinance.
Monday's court victory was just the latest round in a permit battle that saw the activists literally win a permit twice, only to lose it twice, only to now apparently win it for good.
The City of Chicago has rejected the parade permit applications for every march marking the anniversary of the Iraq war. This year they again tried to defeat the application -- but by rejecting it after the deadline required for the City's response. CAIRC was thus forced in mid-January to appeal to the City's administrative law courts, a forum in which plaintiffs rarely prevail. But prevail they did, and on January 28th Administrator Law Officer Jerome Prosser ruled that "the parade permit at issue must be granted."
But on February 1st the Chicago fought back again, suing the activists to overturn the Administrative Law Court's decision. On February 4th they served the activists with the suit and with an emergency motion demanding that the activists appear in court the next day. If granted, the emergency motion would have prevented CAIRC from going ahead with publicizing their March 14 protest, effectively gutting the victory they had won in the lower court and thwarting their 1st amendment right of speech and assembly.
While most of the activist defendants did appear court the next day, they did not have time to secure legal representation. At the hearing the Chicago pressed to have their emergency motion heard and adjudicated -- despite the activists lacking any professional legal representation -- but were rejected by Circuit Court Judge Sconza.
This past Monday, with good pro bono representation by attorneys Jeff Frank, Melinda Power, Jim Fennerty and Chris Kruger of the National Lawyers Guild, the City met its match. Besides savoring Monday's victory, Chicago peace and immigrant rights activists can now move full speed ahead to organize the March 14th protest.
CAIRC consists of more than 50 community organizations working for peace and immigrant rights. They were assisted by attorneys from the Chicago Chapter of National Lawyers Guild -- Jeff Frank, Melinda Power, Jim Fennerty and Chris Kruger. For more information about the March 14th protest and on-going civil liberties battles in Chicago, email CCAWR@aol.com