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Stand with Palestine: March on the Democratic National Convention battles for permits

By staff

Progressive organizations speak out at press conference demanding permits for Palestine march at Democratic National Convention. | Fight Back! News/staff

Chicago, IL – The fight to get permits to march on the Democratic National Convention is heating up. On August 19 to the 22, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) comes Chicago. The massive movement against the genocide in Gaza is preparing to march to the United Center where the convention will be held.

The Coalition to March on the DNC has raised the slogans, “Stand with Palestine! End U.S. aid to Israel!”

Since the start of 2024, groups from the coalition have attempted to secure permits to march. Four applications by different organizations for different march routes and days of the convention have all been rejected.

On Monday, March 18, two of the organizations appeared before the Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings to appeal the denial of their permit applications, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and the Anti-War Committee (AWC).

Before going into the hearing, the coalition held a press conference featuring those two groups, along with others.

Emcee Hatem Abudayyeh, national chair of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) said, “Tens of thousands of Palestinians – not just from Chicago, not just from the Midwest – are already making plans to be here in August. It will be historic.”

Abudayyeh is speaking from experience about the dimensions of the mobilizations in August. USPCN is part of the leadership of the Coalition for Justice in Palestine in Chicago. The coalition has held mass mobilizations weekly since October, and many of the marches had 10,000, 15,000 and even 25,000 people – just from the Chicago area!

Coalition demands city recognize the right to protest

John Metz of AWC said, “The Anti-War Committee filed a permit to march in protest during the Democratic National Convention this August. We seek to exercise our First Amendment rights to demand within sight and sound of our political leaders that they end their support for the genocidal siege on Gaza. The Chicago Department of Transportation rejected our application, instead proposing that we relocate our protest four miles away, well beyond the sight of any convention delegates. By doing so, CDOT has sent a clear message: They stand with the political elites in Washington and against the people of Chicago. Today we're asking the Department of Administrative Hearings to do the right thing and reverse CDOT’s unjust and undemocratic decision.”

Olan Mijana spoke on behalf of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR), the lead organization in the coalition. Mijana stated, “Black and brown people in Chicago have shown overwhelmingly we stand with the Palestinian people. The ceasefire [in Gaza] ordinance our city adopted had the support of Black and brown members of the city council. And Black and brown people have taken to the streets in mass numbers in support of the Palestinian resistance.”

1968: The whole world was watching

Liz Rathburn, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, spoke for SDS. “In 1968 the DNC came to Chicago, as our government murdered hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people. SDS mobilized thousands of young people into the streets of Chicago and forced the whole world to see that the people of the U.S. stood with the people of Vietnam. In 1968 the racist mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, denied people a permit to march, they marched regardless and were met with brutal police repression. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) would love a repeat of 1968, where they can brutalize protesters without consequence. They just got tens of millions from the federal government to do just that.”

The coalition explained that the movement demands a permit to protect the rights of everyone from the danger of police violence, or infiltration of the coalition by undercover CPD to entrap young people, as happened at the protests against NATO when they held their summit in Chicago in 2012.

If the city refuses to recognize the democratic rights of the movement, Abudayyeh said the march would happen “Permit or not.”

Hearing a kangaroo court

Dod McColgan, a co-chair of CAARPR reported after the seven-hou- long day of hearings. “According to Brian Gallardo, the assistant commissioner of Public Way Permitting for CDOT, both permits were denied on the basis of ‘issues of insufficient CPD resources, traffic management and access to emergency services on Ashland Avenue.’”

Asked about what departments gave input, Gallardo admitted he consulted only with CPD to make this decision.

McColgan also noted that after questioning, “Gallardo admitted that the Secret Service is creating a security perimeter which hasn’t yet been determined, but it will be within a few blocks of the United Center. This was also part of the basis of denying the permits to march near the convention.

McColgan continued, “Our attorney attempted to ask about First Amendment considerations in deciding the alternate route, and Judge Dennis Fleming sustained an objection, saying that, ‘The First Amendment is irrelevant!’”

McColgan noted with incredulity, “The city believes that the First Amendment is irrelevant to our right to protest!”

Gabriella Shemash, a deputy chief of CPD in the area around the United Center was called as a witness. Noting one of the several inconsistencies in her testimony, McColgan revealed, “They claimed that marching on Ashland Avenue would be unsafe due to the disruption of access to emergency services in the Medical District. The same deputy who testified today permitted an action we were part of on May Day 2023 to march on one side of Ashland Avenue, which directly conflicts with her testimony today.”

Deputy Corporation Counsel Christine Hake then attempted – after the city rested its case – to introduce a third reason to deny the permit. The application by the AWC is duplicative of the application previously submitted and denied by CAARPR because Joe Iosbaker is a member of both organizations.

McColgan remarked about the absurdity of this. “These are entirely separate organizations in a coalition. So any two organizations that share any one member would have their applications considered duplicative if they were submitted separately.”

“This reasoning poses real problems for First Amendment rights as the city cannot review the member rules for any organization before granting a permit. This is spitting in the face of the First Amendment of the right to protest and the right to resist!”

Coalition prepares legal fight and pressure campaign

Finally, McColgan made two announcements – that the coalition will probably have to take this case to a federal level; and that the coalition will launch a pressure campaign on CDOT and on Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.

“The testimony today makes it clear that the Secret Service determination of a security zone is at the heart of these denials.”

“We’re asking Mayor Johnson’s administration, elected officials across the country, all the organizations in the people’s movements, and all those who respect the right to protest to stand with us in the fight for this permit.”

McColgan concluded, “Either way we’re marching. There’s no stopping the masses who plan to protest the genocide in Gaza.”

Breaking development: Judge Fleming released his decisions upholding the CDOT denial of permits for both marches.

#ChicagoIL #IL #PeoplesStruggles #DNC2024 #CAARPR #AntiWarMovement #International #MiddleEast #Palestine #SDS #ChicagoAWC #USPCN #Feature