A week after city officials denied a permit for demonstrators planning a protest march to protest the NATO summit in May, the organizers have appealed the decision.
The protesters filed an appeal today with the city, arguing officials don't have legitimate grounds to deny the application after granting an identical permit for one day earlier back when the G-8 summit was going to be the main event of the weekend, organizer Andy Thayer said.
City officials had agreed to let the group march on Saturday, May 19, the first day of the G-8 summit, starting at Daley Plaza and winding south to McCormick Place, the gathering site for the world leaders.
But after President Barack Obama moved G-8 to Camp David, leaving only the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meetings on May 20-21, Thayer’s group filed a new application seeking to move their march to Sunday. Other than the date, the application was identical.
But the city denied the application, saying the NATO summit was several times larger than G-8, and authorities would not have enough “on-duty” police to handle a march in the Loop while up to 50 heads of state are moving through the streets in motorcades. City officials wanted to move the march, starting it at the Petrillo Band Shell and sending marchers south along Columbus Drive.
Thayer said his group had been meeting with Chicago Department of Transportation officials all week before reaching an impasse Thursday afternoon and deciding to file an appeal. The city has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, March 27, before the Department of Administrative Hearings.
This week, the city had proposed a compromise route that started at Petrillo but then wound back into the Loop before heading south, Thayer said. Such a route would have accomplished some of the group’s demands for higher visibility, but Thayer said it added nearly a half-mile to the march and he feared they would exhaust the city’s 2 hour and 15 minute time limit on demonstrations and could be ordered to disperse before reaching McCormick Place.
"The City is committed to allowing his organization to express their 1st Amendment rights while balancing it with our obligation to keep the participants safe," city spokesman Roderick Drew said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we were unable to reach an agreement and Mr. Thayer will not accept the alternate route proposed by the City."