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Anti-G8 Protesters Expect to Sue Chicago

Proposed rules governing public demonstrations limit free speech, protesters say

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Activists said Tuesday the new rules Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed for protesters would cause the very discord during the May G8/NATO summits the laws were designed to prevent.

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Anti-G8 protesters say they expect to sue the City of Chicago over new rules governing public demonstrations.

"We already live in a city that has a world-class reputation for police misconduct," said organizer Andy Thayer. 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel in December proposed strict security measures to ensure May's G8 and NATO summits run smoothly.

Emanuel's plan calls for hiking fines for protesters who break the law and limiting protesters' ability to campout overnight. Those who resist police could see fines of $500 to $1,000, according to the proposal. Current fines are set between $25 and $500.

"I’m doing what is appropriate for a unique event with a unique attention to the city," Emanuel said last month. "This is temporary and this is just for this conference."

Longtime activist and political consultant Don Rose predicted the new rules would actually cause the very discord they were designed to prevent.

"The more pugnacious the city gets, the more provocative it becomes," he said. "This does not stop people from acting out."

And they could be here for good. Emanuel said he "made a mistake" when he said emphatically last month that some of the security measures would be temporary. Still, he said the restrictions had nothing to do with limiting free speech and everything to do with keeping order while the world watches.

"People have their first amendment rights protected and the law will be enforced. Those two are not in conflict," said Emanuel.

A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union said the city could avoid a lot of turmoil if there were more open dialogue.

"I think what the city ought to be talking about is facilitating First Amendment activities, not getting tough and displaying a show of authority," said ACLU Chicago's Harvey Grossman.

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