Thursday, January 12, 2012
WOW! I coulda had a G8
It was announced today that portions of Chicago will be on lockdown during the G8 Nato Summit, to be held May 19-21. By "lockdown" I mean that people in cars will not be able to travel on certain streets, nor will parking be allowed in what NBC is calling "scores of parking spots" along some of the Loop's streets. Unclear so far on which streets, but a "large security perimeter" will be encircling McCormick Place, where the conferences will be held.
The reason for the vagueness at this point? The United States Secret Service won't release the information until April 21. No mystery why they don't reveal, but these are issues that need to be addressed.
For starters, we're talking serious adjustment for a large number of people here. Drive into the Loop on any given day and you'll see streets lined on both sides with parked cars for as far as the eye can see. If you drive along Washington for instance, heading east from the Kennedy Expressway, not only are there parked cars lining the entire parade route, but there are Public Parking entrances on both sides of every block that lead to 10 story parking structures.
Those enormous lots fill up very often. Depending on which streets the SS decides to close, we could be talking "no room at the Inn" at practically every one of these lots when those who were chased off the street come looking for a place to spend the day. I wouldn't call it a perfect stasis down there but the city's parking capacity and the demand for parking spots is always teetering right there. Some days no problem finding a spot,...some days you circle for blocks looking for a lot with available space. The people who park in the street are usually down there very early, and so high rise parking is usually the only option when you hit the Loop at 8:30 AM.
Now, with closures and parking bans in effect for this fucking G8/Nato deal, the early birds will just use the high rise lots instead of the streets, and those who normally drive up 6 stories to park every day are going to be shit-out-of-luck. The G8 Committee, by way of spokeswoman Jennifer Martinez says the committee has agreed to foot the tab for lost parking revenue which is something like $6 per hour.....per parking spot. (Weird isn't it? A small slab of concrete makes 6 bucks an hour, even the spots in front of the unemployment office.)
Actually, most of the really sweet street parking spots around the Daley Center and City Hall are reserved for police vehicles, City of Chicago employee vehicles, limos, and Rahm's Rolls Royce but that's a rant for another day.
And don't think for a second that the parking ban will only be in effect for 3 days. The SS will want barriers, barricades, police lines, parking blockages and what-not in effect for at least a week before the fun begins, and maybe more than that. They'll have bomb sniffing pooches going through every garage in the city. Soon enough we'll be seeing the distinctive blue-glow of the welders as they seal up the manhole covers, suddenly mailboxes will vanish from street corners, strange silhouettes will begin to appear on rooftops overlooking LaSalle Street, and little men with tiny binoculars will take their places as spotters for the other little men with tiny sniper rifles. Every window in every office building within blocks of the SS determined route from Loop hotels to McCormick Place will be under surveillance so don't even think about doing the old "hey world look at how incredibly big my dick is!" flasher stunt.
I hate the sound of that fucking word, especially when it's used in my hometown. For a few weeks in May, this city is going to be a police state. Two City Council committees will meet next week to vote on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's G8/Nato Summit proposals. They'll decide if we should suspend normal spending rules and allow money to be spent on what-the-fuck-ever-we-feel-like-at-121 N. LaSalle.
They'll also vote on Rahm's proposal to allow Chicago Police Superintendent Garry O'Connor to deputize temporary muscle to deal with unruly citizens.
And there will be unruly citizens. One group plans to march from the Daley Center to McCormick Place on the 19th. That'll perhaps take them through Grant Park. Why am I positive that's the way they'll go? Ya just know they're NOT going to avoid Grant Park, for symbolic reasons if nothing else. And besides, it is the more scenic way to march if you're going to McCormick Place. You can look north and see the Married With Children Buckingham Fountain, you can walk south on Michigan Ave. past Spearman and Bowman and the Hilton and Balbo and all that other Democratic National Convention 1968-ish stuff.
Over on the left of the vehicle, you can see the large clearing where our current president Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech to 400,000 in November, 2008. And over there is Mike Royko's softball field.
But unlike '68, this isn't just a Richard J Daley/ James Conlisk Chicago Op. Black helicopters and men who talk to their wrists will be here too. SS will be everywhere, and I would expect security personnel from other countries to be accompanying their dignifuckintaries. This is Michelle Obama's hometown, and Maui Jim certainly doesn't want any fuck-ups when the whole world's watching this time. If that means turning Chicago into a place more like 1975 Moscow, so be it. The fucking circus is coming to town, and Jennifer Martinez says that when it's all over, the event will not have cost the taxpayers a dime.
Yeah, sure, right, okay, uh-huh.
"The police aren't here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder."~ RJD
UPDATE: At Thursday's (today's) City Council meeting, several Aldermen used strong language to attack Mayor Emanuel's G8/Nato Summit proposals.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward)- “It’s an affront to the right to free speech. Government is telling you what you can write on a sign, who’s allowed to carry those signs and what kind of [sound] amplification you can use. For every 100 people, you have to have a parade marshal.At least after `68, Chicago has always been a city that has done very well with protests. Police have been excellent at handling protests over the last few years. This seems like pushing the table backwards. I understand you have serious international actors coming into town and there needs to be restrictions. But we can’t let it go over the top. They can’t be things that stop people from expressing their right to free speech. ”
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward)-“I don’t want protesters to get a criminal record just on the basis of protesting and exercising their constitutional rights, I don’t want people to be unnecessarily impeded for what they naturally do every day. This is a bustling city. People do have schedules and agendas to keep. I want people to live as normal a life as they possibly can when the G-8 comes."
Ald. Michelle Smith (43rd Ward)-“Public parks are closed until 6 a.m. We have joggers who go out earlier than that. The fines seem very high. As people who were around in the `60’s, we didn’t face those kinds of fines to protest the war in Vietnam.A lot of the regulations seem a bit excessive and I hope the administration is open to compromise on them. We have a really well-trained police force. They did very well with the Occupy Chicago protesters. We can showcase Chicago to the world, yet preserve free expression.”
Also today, the city announced that the Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda has been granted their permit for a march on May 19 from Daley Plaza to Indiana and 23rd.
Meanwhile, Rahm Emanuel said today that the city is working with the Secret Service “to establish an official protest area, where the City will provide sound amplification equipment, portable toilets, and other resources for protestors who wish to use it.”
An official protest area! Oh yeah, that's got "winning idea" written all over it.