On Friday, October 21, 2011 at 1:30 p.m., fifty members representing Occupy Chicago hand delivered a petition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office in City Hall. The petition has already garnered 9,945 signatures since it was created last Sunday. It is written in response to the Chicago Police Department’s arrest of around 175 peaceful demonstrators for a curfew violation last weekend.
The petition states the following: “Rahm Emanuel, stop the mass arrests of protesters in Grant Park. Respect their right to peacefully assemble, and allow them to have a base to protest from.” The petition ends by urging Mayor Emanuel to rethink his approach to silencing the Occupy movement’s presence in Chicago: “Don’t let this end like 1968.”
The Occupy Chicago demonstrations bear little resemblance to the legendarily violent clashes between Chicago Police and protesters during the 1968 Democratic Convention. The Occupy Chicago movement is committed to non-violent action, and until last weekend, no members had been arrested.
Last weekend’s event, dubbed “Camp Out Chi” or “Take the Horse” by some, was an attempt to find a more permanent location to house Occupy Chicago in the upcoming winter months. A slew of oppressive ordinances prevent demonstrators from erecting a more sustainable encampment at the intersection of Jackson and LaSalle, the site of the group’s ongoing protest.
Unlike the heavily regulated sidewalks near Jackson and LaSalle, demonstrators explain that Grant Park is “as unregulated as Wall Street” and would make an ideal site for an encampment if its 11:00 p.m. curfew were waived. Supporters of the movement have inundated the mayor’s office with phone calls and emails asking for such a waiver.