The city of Chicago today yanked a permit for the first demonstration planned for the weekend of the NATO summit in a dispute over where the National Nurses United can hold its rally May 18.
The organization says it has begun talks with American Civil Liberties Union lawyers about a challenge to the city’s about-face. "If the nurses are a threat to Rahm Emanuel, then heaven help the U.S.," said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United.
Chicago's Department of Transportation approved the march from the Sheraton Hotel in Streeterville to Daley Plaza months ago, but on Tuesday the California-based group received word the city had changed the terms, according to DeMoro.
In a letter to march organizers, city officials said they needed to move the ending rally of the march from Daley Plaza in the center of the Loop to the Petrillo Music Shell because the nurses' group had recently added rocker Tom Morello, formerly of Rage Against the Machine, as a speaker and performer.
Michael Simon, an assistant commissioner of the Department of Transportation, wrote that the city was changing its mind "to accommodate changes to your event, including a performance by a nationally known musician and a significantly increased number of expected attendees."
The city's proposed route would take the march from Illinois and Upper North Water Streets near the Sheraton Hotel, west on Illinois to Michigan Avenue, south to Monroe Street and then east to Butler Field and the Petrillo Music Shell.
"They’re trying to marginalize the effect of the nurses," said DeMoro, who noted that the purpose of the demonstration was to support a transaction tax on Wall Street deals.
With the last-minute decision, Emanuel has failed to cast the city as a place that supports free speech, DeMoro said. "The damage is already done to Chicago."