The headline reads, Mayor to grant all G-20 protest permits, which would include the ever-symbolic Point State Park -- only hitch is, protesters will not be able to camp overnight, and would have to disassemble all their infrastructure nightly. Meanwhile, proposed legislative restrictions on things like masks and PVC pipe would only be enforced if "used in commission of a crime".
This sounds too good to be true somehow, but wow. [**-UPDATES: Maybe it is. See below]
A spokesperson for the Thomas Merton Center, which has been sort-of convening the organization of the protest groups' efforts to lobby for permits, says so far this is news to them.
This from Vic Walczak of the ACLU, on the permits:
The devil is in the details. We haven't received any actual permits and we're already hearing they are cutting back on what was requested. Until we receive actual permits and see terms we are being cautious. That said, a qualified yes is certainly better than an unqualified no, which is what we received last week.
On the Mayor's legislation, and whether a stated intent "not to enforce unless" matters:
Legislation defines crimes very broadly as illegal activity. We need to do our legal research to figure out whether the proposed bills are constitutional.
The bills also ban protesters from using "noxious substances" against police including animal or human waste, rotten eggs, acid, gasoline, gases and alcohol. (P-G, Timothy McNulty)
That much is good. Though I'm surprised that's not illegal already.
He (the Mayor) said all five groups seeking protest permits around the Sept. 24 and 25 summit of international leaders will be given conditional approvals for events in Downtown, the South Side, North Side and the Strip District. (ibid)
"Conditional" being the very operative word. It is widely suspected that the Secret Service will force City officials to revoke or dramatically curtail these permits. It is also somewhat widely suspected that City officials already know this, and are granting conditional permits in order to look like the "good cops" in the situation for a little while.
Two ordinances prohibit masks for the purpose of aiding in the commission of unlawful activity — including gas masks, which can be worn unless they're used to evade police — and items that protesters could use to chain themselves to buildings, evade police or inhibit movement of emergency-response equipment. (Trib, Adam Brandolph)
That seems like a distinction without a difference -- "unless they're used to evade police".
Imagine: Citizens go somewhere (or do something) that police in the field deem impermissible. Police order citizens to disperse -- which in itself triggers the "unlawful activity" clause for the remainder; at least some citizens do not immediately disperse, and many who try to do so have nowhere immediately available to go. Police gas citizens to protect selves before wading in. Citizens don gas masks in self-defense. Gas causes confusion and fog of war. Police target mask-clad citizens and treat them with a heightened presumption of criminal intent. Citizens see mates they view as innocent getting "abused" and decide to ... you get the idea.
Without prejudice to any particular aspect of this proposed legislation, I know that protest groups are formally calling upon the City and other authorities to adopt "Use of Force guidelines" for policing units to abide by. This seems reasonable.
If citizens are being handed a special set of game rules outside of what is ordinary in America, they should also know what to expect in this new situation out of their police. Everyone should know as much as possible. This isn't a war.