You Can March in the Streets of Beirut or Kiev
...but Not Chicago
On Saturday, March 19th under threats of arrest, Chicago Police forcibly dispersed the Gay Liberation Network feeder march which was destined to join the large anti-war march that day on the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Even though the march was scheduled to take place on sidewalks and not disrupt pedestrian or vehiclar traffic, police cited the City’s little-used permit ordinance to shut the event down (see this link for more on the feeder march).
A little later that day police arrested GLN co-founder Andy Thayer as he attempted to address a press conference at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Oak Street, denouncing the City’s denial of a permit for the protest. Charges include disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and violation of the permit ordinance. Court dates are April 5th and 6th.
It is a chilling anti-civil liberties precedent that the City now feels it can unilaterally dictate where and when protests take place, giving ones it favors prominent locations, and relegating ones it doesn’t to relative backwaters. “Free” speech without an audience is the shell of democracy, without its content.
While the March 19th Chicago Coalition, of which GLN is a member, spent months applying for permits with the City, the rejected those applications. Repeated Coalition offers to negotiate were rebuffed by the City. The Coalition appealed one of the permit rejections to the Mayor’s License Commission, a rubber-stamp body chosen by the Daley Machine, which predictably found for the City.
When the Coalition sued the City in federal court and attempted to get an emergency injunction staying the City’s rejection of the permit requests, the Coalition had the misfortune to draw a judge, William Hibbler, who was himself a creature of the Daley Machine. Hibbler worked for Daley when the two of them were in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Despite the police intimidation, several other feeder marches were able to march, and after some tense moments with the police, some 2,500 to 3,000 were able to rally at Federal Plaza. While both major daily newspapers reported that there were only 1,000, this was a police estimate given out even before the rally fully assembled at the plaza and was in apparent reference to the numbers assembled in the various feeder marches.
Below are links to articles, photos, and audio and video segments collected by the Chicago Indy Media website, which had by far the most comprehensive coverage of the day’s events:
New! Video of march down Clark street
New! Three Thousand Protest | Photo slideshow
New! Anti-war protesters vs. state authority
People Protest War, Despite Cancellation of Constitutional Rights
Video: Protest Organizer Arrested For Speaking On Chicago Street
Arrests at M19 demonstrations
Photos of M19 2005 Rally
Archive of breaking developments with protests in Chicago - March 19, 2005
Rally and March in Chicago on March 19
Audio segments from M19 Demonstrations in Chicago
M-19: Images of Chicago Anti-War Protests from Corporate Media
NBC-5 Chicago Online Poll on Protest and Assembly