January  13,  2012   Dear  Alderman,   We  would  like  to  express  our  deep  concern  regarding  the  proposed

 changes  to  ordinances  O2011-­‐9742   and  O2011-­‐9743  submitted  to  City  Council  last  month  by  Mayor  Rahm  Emanuel  and  slated  for   consideration  at  the  January  18  City  Council  meeting.    As  members  of  Chicago  community,  faith,   advocacy  and  labor  groups,  we  urge  you  to  either  reject,  or—at  very  least—delay  passage  of  these   changes  which,  if  passed  next  week,  would  diminish  both  the  rights  of  citizens  to  peaceful  public  protest   and  the  democratic  tradition  of  our  city.     There  are  many  aspects  of  these  ordinances  that  are  deeply  disturbing—not  the  least  of  which  is  the   apparent  rush  to  usher  them  through  City  Council  without  time  for  meaningful  community   consideration  and  input.   The  ordinances  were  submitted  in  December,  amidst  the  distractions  of  the  holiday  season,  and  are   slated  for  Council  consideration  immediately  following  the  MLK  Jr.  holiday  when  many  of  the  groups  and   organizations  that  would  be  impacted  by  the  proposed  changes  are  closed.  The  Mayor  asserts  that  these   changes  are  necessary  to  ensure  that  the  city  is  able  to  provide  sufficient  security  measures  for  the   upcoming  G8  and  NATO  summits.  Given  that  the  summits  do  not  take  place  until  May,  there  is  no   compelling  need  to  rush  these  proposed  changes  through  at  the  expense  of  community  input.     While  some  of  the  proposed  changes  have  been  adjusted  in  recent  days  to  somewhat  lessen  the   restrictions  on  free  speech,  these  adjustments  do  not  go  nearly  far  enough.  The  very  fact  that  the   newest  changes  were  announced  within  the  past  24  hours—giving  community  members  less  than  a  full   business  day  to  evaluate  them—proves  that  more  time  is  desperately  needed  to  consider  these   proposals.     The  danger  of  rushing  consideration  and  passage  of  ordinances  has  been  made  tragically  apparent  by   the  recent  revelation  that  the  parking  meter  contract  approved  by  the  City  Council  under  Mayor  Daley   will  require  the  City  to  pay  out  up  to  $65  million  to  the  parking  vendor  as  a  result  of  street  closures   related  to  the  coming  summits  in  May.  An  unnecessary  and  preventable  expense  of  this  magnitude  is   devastating  at  a  time  when  city  employees  are  being  laid  off  and  budgets  are  being  slashed  for  essential   services  ranging  from  public  libraries  to  healthcare  for  the  mentally  ill.   The  major  changes  proposed  for  these  ordinances—including  the  eightfold  increase  in  the  minimum  fine   and  a  doubling  of  the  maximum  fine  for  resisting  arrest,  restricting  access  hours  for  public  spaces,  and   placing  prohibitive  requirements  on  parade  and  public  assembly  permit  applicants—are  wide  ranging  in   scope  and  permanent  in  duration.     The  steep  increases  in  fines  will  likely  keep  many  of  the  people  who  have  been  most  harmed  by  the   economic  downturn  in  our  country  from  speaking  out,  and  these  are  the  voices  that  most  need  to  be   heard.  Billionaires,  millionaires,  and  wealthy  banks  and  corporations  can  afford  to  pay  lobbyists  to  speak   out  for  them.  We  need  to  protect  the  right  of  struggling  working  families  to  get  their  voices  heard.  

Given  the  permanence  of  these  measures,  these  ordinances  will  not  only  restrict  the  rights  of  citizens  to   protest  the  G8  and  NATO  summits,  but  will  also  have  a  long-­‐term  impact  on  protestors  and   organizations  throughout  the  city,  most  of  whom  are  not  connected  in  any  way  to  the  protests   associated  with  or  planned  for  these  events.    In  particular,  the  proposed  ordinances  will  serve  to  limit   the  basic  rights  of  workers  to  engage  in  concerted  activity  and  collective  action,  and  will  hamper  the   ability  of  community  organizations  to  engage  in  public  protest.    For  example,  the  provisions  contained  in   the  Mayor’s  proposals  could  diminish  or  curtail  completely  the  ability  of  striking  workers  to  form  a   picket  line  or  exercise  other  protected  rights  of  assembly  or  prevent  homeowners  from  protesting  illegal   foreclosures.  Considering  these  infringements,  this  legislation  also  threatens  to  undermine  the   reputation  of  Chicago  as  a  city  where  spirited  protest  is  tolerated  and  workers’  rights  are  respected.       The  danger  of  these  proposed  restrictions  is  especially  apparent  as  the  city  comes  together  to  celebrate   the  civil  rights  legacy  of  Martin  Luther  King  Jr.    Had  these  restrictions  been  in  place  during  Rev.  King’s   lifetime,  much  of  the  civil  rights  movement  could  have  been  squelched—with  the  result  that  we  would   be  living  in  a  much  less  free,  much  less  diverse  country  today.   In  keeping  with  your  commitment  to  protecting  the  rights  of  your  constituents  to  engage  in  peaceful   protest  and  your  dedication  to  the  democratic  tradition  of  our  city,  we  ask  that  you  reject  this  troubling   legislation.   Sincerely,                                                        

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