The right to free speech. The right to peaceably assemble. The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. These protections, ensconced in our Bill of Rights, are necessary for a society that wishes to be organized in a democratic manner. These have already been abridged by the influence of corporations and the ill-gotten money of the 1% such that our governing officials--Democrat and Republican--do not serve our interests, do not speak for us. For that reason the Occupy Chicago and Occupy across the globe was forced to speak in another manner, the manner of protest. Left with no other recourse, and no other institution to voice our grievances we spoke together, and spoke strongly in public places, parks, squares, streets, and sidewalks. We transformed their institutions temporarily by mic checking their meetings. Along the way they fought us, harassed us, arrested us, and around the globe used the violence of the state to beat us, pepper-spray us, and shoot at us. But we did not go away.
Afraid of our power, afraid of our voices and the content of our speech Mayor Rahm ‘1%’ Emanuel again demonstrates his role as the goon of the 1% with his most recent despicable assault on our freedom of speech. To attack the freedom of speech is to attack democracy and thus Mayor 1% shows himself as an enemy of democracy. On December 14th, 2011 he proposed an ordinance amending various provisions of Chicago Municipal Code. While temporarily restricting our freedoms in the interest of silencing dissent is cause enough for a call to action, Emanuel later admitted that the ordinance was to be permanent.
The changes in the municipal code introduced severely restrict the ability of anyone in Chicago to assemble in public and speak their grievances. The changes in the code are drastic and among the actions that it takes to squelch out dissent are the following:
It would make nearly all street protests in the downtown requiring the purchase of liability insurance, a permit, and the registration of sound equipment, signs, banners, and contingents within the march.
It would require even gatherings on the sidewalk to acquire a permit be they presences on corners, picket lines, teach-ins, press conferences, and any other act of assembly.
It increases the fine for “resisting or obstructing the performance of a police officer” exponentially and lumps both active and passive resistance as the same.
This ordinance consists of a host of bureaucratic tools.created by and for the 1% to relegate, abridge, fine, arrest, and silence our speech. It is an attempt to bully and intimidate with increased police power and fines the brave working people who demand the ability to participate democratically in the organizing of our society. It is an attempt, by the 1%, to restrict and regulate the voice of the people when it upsets the structure that put them in power. The timing of the ordinance demonstrates that it has nothing to do with public safety but that its sole purpose is to stifle the voice and trample upon the constitutional liberties of all the people of Chicago. It is the blatant criminalizing of any public assembly that does not serve the interest of the 1%. It is the handcuffing of democracy. Occupy Chicago condemns this ordinance and demands that they be revoked. Those who are on the side of the democracy of the 99% will stand with us.
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