Aerial view of downtown Chicago. Photo: iStockphoto

CHICAGO—Chicago is hosting the Democratic National Convention, from August 19-August 22. Thousands of protesters anticipate gathering in the city for demonstrations during the convention. However, so far all permit-to-rally applications have been denied.

Leaders and representatives from a coalition of various groups have requested permits to rally at Union Park located a few blocks away from the United Center where the convention will be held.

A city spokesperson said, “Applications were denied following review by multiple city departments to identify any potential conflicts, safety issues, and to assess the availability of resources needed to support the gathering.”

Protests frequently occur spontaneously and without permits. A permit is only necessary because the coalition wants to block off streets.


Although the city of Chicago offered an area four miles away from the United Center where protests can be held, in response to the offer, the Coalition to March on the DNC, representing dozens of organizations, is now in a legal battle with the city of Chicago.

According to organizers, “The federal lawsuit was initiated by the Coalition against the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) after CDOT denied permit applications from three Coalition organizations: CAARPR, Anti-War Committee-Chicago, and Students for a Democratic Society-UIC.

It alleges that the Chicago Ordinance violates the First Amendment rights of the Plaintiff organizations and their members, and that CDOT’s denial of march permits and proffered alternate route three miles from the DNC, far away from and out of sight of the delegates attending, was not a reasonable alternative.”

On June 25, Attorney Chris Williams, who represents the coalition, appeared at a hearing in the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago to request documents and to depose federal officials to learn information about where the security perimeter is.

He said he can’t counter the city and propose new routes if he doesn’t know the perimeter. Andrew Worseck, an attorney for the city, countered by saying he thinks the city has a route sufficiently close to the United Center and will satisfy all the important factors in this case.

Atty. Worseck said he doesn’t think the groups need the information requested because it would slow down the process. Federal Judge Andrea Wood has yet to rule on whether the groups’ attorney can depose top federal officials to obtain the information.

The judge set another court hearing for July 1.

Hatem Abudayyeh is the national chair of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, one of the groups in the coalition. “With or without permits, we will protest at Union Park.

We have the constitutional right to protest within sight and sound of our target audience, which means to get as close to the United Center as possible. We want seniors. We want children. We want people of all abilities to be comfortable knowing that they’re not going to be attacked by police or by feds.”

According to a news release from coalition organizers, the Coalition to March on the DNC represents over 125 organizations that fight for the rights and liberation of oppressed people.

“The coalition will march and protest on August 19th and 22nd, the first and last days of the DNC, to lift up seven demands, the principal one being, Stand with Palestine and End U.S. Aid to Israel,” the release stated.

(Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected].)