City defends denial of NATO protest permit
Andy Thayer speaks on behalf of a group of protesters who are trying to change their permit for the Nato Summit from Saturday to Sunday. They are holding their protest outside the court where the hearing is being held. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune / March 27, 2012)
Lawyers for protesters peppered a top deputy for the Chicago Department of Transportation with questions about the rationale for denying the permit for a May 20 march when the city had already approved an identical permit for the day before.
Assistant transportation commissioner Mike Simon repeatedly answered that the larger size of the NATO conference made the logistics of a Sunday demonstration in the heart of the Loop more difficult than an identical march Saturday, which was to be the first day for G-8 meetings that were supposed to run parallel with the NATO gathering.
But President Barack Obama rescheduled the G-8 meetings of government economic leaders for Camp David, prompting protesters to ask to move their march to Sunday.
Simon said that wouldn't work for the city because Sunday would be a busier day than Saturday given that NATO would bring 50 delegations while the G-8 would only have produced eight. Despite the city's contention, G-8 experts say those meetings typically bring dozens of delegations.
Testimony was expected to continue this afternoon and the administrative law judge hearing the case could rule as early as today. If protesters lose their appeal, they have the option of taking the city to court.