Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

In Chicago, a mayor with activist roots prepares for a potentially volatile Democratic convention

By 37ci3 May15,2024



Chicago – Mayor Brandon Johnson has shown his past activism for the first time has roots as an organizer. This contributed to a concern that he had already worn out will not curb the protesters expected to be a highly charged Democratic National Convention.

But so far, he has pleased few people ahead of the nominations event in August.

On the one hand, critics argue Johnson won’t do enough to deter bad actors from coming to town in the first place. On the other hand, protest groups are suing the city, complaining that it denied them permits to march near the two main convention sites: the United Center and McCormick Place.

In an interview, Johnson, who has just completed his first year in office, stressed that safety will come first, but that law enforcement will focus on de-escalation tactics and commit to giving activists space to protest peacefully. He won’t tolerate confusion, he said.

“If people are harmed in any way or in any form, I will act with precision as well as constitutional policing and enforcement to make sure we keep people safe,” he said.

At the same time, when asked about overnight camps as the type that hamper operations on college campuses, Johnson would not commit to cleaning them up.

“It just depends on the situation. “If people are drawn into a camp that puts people in harm’s way, then my job is to create a safe environment for people not to be harmed.” “If people are protesting peacefully, their First Amendment rights are protected. This is constitutional protection.”

Johnson noted that the convention will take place around the time schools reopen, and said he is determined to avoid choke points that would prevent regular Chicagoans from going about their daily business.

While the Secret Service will lead convention security — working with Chicago police and dozens of other agencies — it will not have jurisdiction over parts of the city outside the security perimeter, a fenced area that requires credentials to enter.

That means it will be up to the city to patrol places like Grant Park, famous for mass protests and violent clashes with police at the 1968 Democratic convention. It all took on a new urgency after the pro-Palestinian protests took over college campuses nationwide, prompting some schools to do so cancel startup exits or mheand to online learning for the remainder of the semester.

“Based on our manpower briefing, the Secret Service is satisfied that Chicago is well staffed to handle the safety and security of the event,” agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

Since taking office, Johnson has taken actions or supported policies that have sided with activists. He is controversial canceled the contract for the fire early detection system, keeping a campaign promise to progressives who complained about overpolicing in some neighborhoods. City police department did not help to eliminate protesters from a camp at the University of Chicago, but he was on standby if it’s necessary. The University police handled the situation, and escalation did not occur. Johnson defended his ally Those who participated in the rally where the US flag was burned criticized those who questioned the freedom of assembly in the City Council.

Before taking office, he grabbed national headlines showing sympathy to a group of teenagers intruding downtown.

“The question will be: What will the mayor say and defend what is done outside the permissible limits?” said Alderman Ray Lopez, Democrat. “Will he defend people who are protesting without permission and destroying their property?” Or who causes chaos just for the sake of chaos? Will he defend it or oppose it?”

Lopez said he’s already seen evidence on social media that protesters are coming to the city just to intervene.

“There are people that we know are being encouraged to come to Chicago that are deliberately organizing to cause chaos in our city,” Lopez said.

“We will not tolerate vandalism and chaos,” Johnson said.

But he repeatedly emphasized the importance of activism and de-escalation, and said he trusted the police superintendent to try to de-escalate.

“Protests led to fairer justice.

The city’s chief operating officer, John Roberson, Johnson’s pick from the city for the DNC, was more direct when asked about the city’s tolerance for protesters setting up overnight camps. He said current ordinances will be enforced and it is expected that “the park will be closed at some point.”

“We will make sure that you have space and space to exercise that right. But that does not give anyone the right to go to the point of violence, to the point of vandalism and destruction of property. We will be patient and we will be determined,” he said.

But protest groups are still fighting the city for better access. Numerous organizations filed for legal action, saying they had a First Amendment right to be within “sight and noise” of the United Center.

“Frankly, it’s disappointing, especially with someone of the reputation that he has,” he said. The group advocates for federal laws to protect reproductive justice and LGBTQ people. “You’d expect more from someone who comes from an activist background, but unfortunately, at least so far, he’s completely different.”

“If they’re looking for what they say is not chaos,” Thayer added, “then they need to start respecting reasonable permit applications.”

Two sources with knowledge of the discussions said the city has been meeting with representatives of various protest groups in recent days to come up with a more appropriate resolution.

Alderman Brian Hopkins, a Democrat who chairs the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, described how the city responded to the encampment at the Art Institute of Chicago, which only ended with arrests as a last resort.

Hopkins said, though, that he has real concerns about large groups spending the night in downtown parks, which could increase the chance of confrontations.

Hopkins said in 1968: “It was actually a forerunner of more infamous clashes between police and protesters. It started with a dispute over Chicago police trying to enforce a curfew in a park district.”

But Hopkins said he believes Johnson will balance competing interests while focusing on the city’s heritage.

“He has sympathy and sympathy for those who take to the streets to promote his cause. But he also wants to host an event that can showcase his city,” Hopkins said. “Something we can be proud of when it’s over, something where nobody gets hurt, there’s no property damage, and nothing burns down.”

Lopez also said he fears what the depletion of resources could mean for the rest of the city’s neighborhoods, including those plagued by gang crime that only increases in the heat of summer.

“We’ve had street takeovers, we’ve had shootings in parades, and it’s just been a normal weekend,” Lopez said, referring to the cancellation of the Cinco de Mayo parade amid gang fire. “What will we do when it’s August, when the summer heats up?”

Hopkins admitted that there was a staffing problem in general; The Chicago Police Department is down 2,000 officers.

“We will just have to play with the cards we have. A little bit less at the moment. So that’s going to show up in canceled days off and overtime during the convention and in the weeks leading up to it,” he said.

As for the chances of the convention area becoming a free-for-all, Hopkins said he believes Johnson.

“The mayor is not going to let this get under his control,” he said. “He understands that there’s a balancing act that he’s trying to effect. It’s not an easy thing to do.”



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By 37ci3

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