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Coalition against Gaza genocide seeks injunction for right to march on DNC

By Joe Iosbaker

Faayani Aboma Mijana speaks at press conference about a move in federal court for a preliminary injunction to march on the Democratic National Convention.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Chicago, IL – At an April 30 press conference, speakers announced that a motion for a preliminary injunction has been filed in federal court by the Coalition to March on the DNC. They are asking a federal judge to block the city of Chicago from enforcing its ordinance regulating parade permits, as it violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Speakers at the press conference included Chris Williams, Attorney; Hatem Abudayyeh, US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN); Faayani Aboma Mijana, Coalition to March on the DNC; and Liz Rathburn, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) – University of Illinois at Chicago.

“The Coalition to March on the DNC believes that this injunction by the court is urgent and time-sensitive,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, USPCN national chair. “We are very likely to win this lawsuit, and if we are forced to wait until after the DNC for a trial to be complete, it will be too late.”

The Coalition holds that the city’s denial of parade permits to protest “within sight and sound” of the DNC, as well as the city’s unilateral decision to propose an alternative four miles away, buried far out of sight and sound, violates the First Amendment. Under the First Amendment protections of political speech, the city must find an alternate route narrowly tailored to meet a compelling governmental interest. The city has made no such effort.

“On arbitrary grounds, the city is violating our First Amendment right to protest,” said Faayani Aboma Mijana, spokesperson for the Coalition to March on the DNC. “We’re calling on the court to act fast and to compel the city to the negotiating table with us to ensure that our right to protest within sight and sound of the DNC is protected.”

Attorney Chris Williams said that the city has indicated to him a desire to sit down with the coalition to work out an agreement for their permits to protest.

Student protests against Gaza genocide signal massive protests at DNC

Liz Rathburn noted, “As the encampments being raised all over the country show, students are done being ignored. Our administrations help fund a genocide in Gaza with our investments, but we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Referring to the violence against students in campus encampments and building occupations against the Gaza genocide, Rathburn said further, “If the city refuses to grant us a permit we have no doubt that the Chicago Police Department will be emboldened to inflict that same brutality on us with impunity. Tens of thousands of young people will be in the streets outside the DNC with or without a permit. I don’t want to see my classmates bleeding in the streets of Chicago come August. To allow a safe and family friendly march, the city must provide a permit.”

CPD past violence against protesters looms

In a public hearing the night after this press conference, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Larry Snelling refused to rule out police tactics including infiltration and entrapment of protest groups by undercover police officers. He also denied that CPD has “black sites,” which were exposed ten years ago in the Manchester Guardian, showing CPD disappeared protesters for 24 hours or longer.

Both these tactics were used by CPD against protestors at the march on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2012. Like the DNC, the NATO summit was a National Special Security Event, a status applied through the passage of the Patriot Act after the 9/11 attacks. With that status, involvement in policing of protests by the Secret Service, Homeland Security and the FBI in has resulted in numerous violations of democratic rights to protest.

In prior hearings, Superintendent Snelling said CPD’s methods at the anti-war protests against the NATO were a model for his plan for the DNC. At the NATO protests, more than a dozen protesters were hospitalized after being beaten by officers, including at least one with an arm broken with an oversized 21-inch wooden baton, and another whose teeth were broken out when they were felled by a police baton. A police officer was caught on camera by the Chicago Tribune showing the white-shirted cop about to punch a protester in the face.

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