About a dozen protesters showed up outside City Hall today to complain about the Emanuel Administration's decision to yank permission for a large protest rally at Daley Plaza on the weekend of the May 20-21 NATO summit.
The National Nurses United demonstration was the only NATO protest approved for a workday in the Loop business district, but in a letter this week the city told the group they would have to take their May 18 march to Grant Park instead of Daley Plaza because it was now expected to surpass their crowd estimate of 1,000 people.
The group says it intends to challenge the city ruling in court on grounds there is federal court precedent establishing the plaza as a public gathering place.
Asked why the Petrillo band shell in the park isn't an acceptable alternative, nurses spokeswoman Jan Rodolfo said "Daley Plaza is at the throbbing heart of Chicago."
One decision remaining is whether the group files its challenge by end of business Thursday, Rodolfo said. If it doesn't, the group would be accepting the forced move to Petrillo. But they may still sue the city after the deadline, alleging their rights were violated.
The nurses group and other protest leaders called the city's move a violation of free speech and said it fits a pattern of City Hall trying to marginalize demonstrations against the NATO gathering.
The city told the nurses group it needed to move the rally because organizers promoted the event so much that it would exceed the crowd estimate on the group's permit application and might exceed the crowd capacity of Daley Plaza, which the city said is 5,000. The city also noted that the group had added an appearance by singer Tom Morello, former guitarist for Rage Against the Machine.
"The addition to your event of a performance by a popular, nationally known musician who regularly draws large crowds under similar circumstances, along with the active recruitment of other organizations to join in your event, will likely increase the number of participants in your event far beyond the number estimated on your application," wrote Mike Simon, assistant commissioner of the city's Department of Transportation.
A larger crowd on a workday in the Loop could strain city resources, administration officials said, citing aggravating factors including the Crosstown Series pitting the White Sox against the Cubs several miles away in Wrigley Field.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun