2024 DNC

Records show at least 8 groups applied for permits to protest at DNC

Chicago's Department of Transportation released records days after NBC 5 Investigates reported how city agencies had rejected initial requests for information.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Newly released permit applications show at least eight different groups have applied to demonstrate during the week of the Democratic National Convention in late August.

The list may not be complete, however, as other city agencies like the Chicago Park District and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have still not turned over records in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from NBC 5 Investigates.

With less than two months before nationwide attention turns to the DNC, several groups are suing the City of Chicago over denied permit requests.

In court filings, the city has raised concerns that many of the parade permit requests were "duplicative" and that the emergence of thousands of protesters in the streets of Chicago would require "several hundred" additional police officers to effectively provide security.

In the records released to NBC 5 Investigates this week, we noticed the word "objection" handwritten in red ink on several of the permit applications.

When asked if someone from CDOT made those notations or another city agency, a CDOT spokeswoman said in an emailed response:

"Per municipal code, parade permit applications are reviewed by multiple City departments to identify any potential conflicts, safety issues, and to assess the availability of resources necessary to support the gathering. When a permit is denied, the applicant is given an alternative route that allows the parade to proceed while accounting for police resources, security, safety, and other additional factors. Each application that is submitted is evaluated based on the specific details of the proposed routes and any events happening concurrently in the city."

Among those who sought permits through CDOT include:

  • Bodies Outside of Unjust Laws
  • U.S. Palestinian Community Network
  • Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign
  • Students for a Democratic Society at UIC
  • Israeli American Council
  • Reparations for Descendants of Enslaved Africa
  • March for People's Agenda
  • Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression

"I don't think it is unreasonable to say 40,000 or even 50,000 people will be outside of the DNC," said Liz Rathburn with the Students for a Democratic Society at UIC.

The issue of where groups can protest isn't just in dispute here in Chicago.

Protesters in Milwaukee where the Republican National Convention will be held later this month were in court Wednesday – waging a legal fight of their own over where they can gather.

Rathburn said their group's attorneys are now in confidential negotiations with the city.

"If we can get within sight and sound, we are pretty happy. Now the city for a long time was refusing to negotiate with us on those points. Now that we are in negotiations. I think we will be able to provide a safe – family friendly – and well-organized march and rally for the 40,000 people who will be here in Chicago in August."

Details about the security perimeter around the United Center where the DNC will be held are expected to be released publicly later this month. Groups still involved in litigation with the city of Chicago are also fighting a city ordinance that would allow the city to establish additional security zones outside the one approved by U.S. Secret Service.

Contact Us