[Ppnews] Chicago mayor given massive police powers before G-8, NATO summits

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 20 17:48:02 EST 2012


Outlawing dissent: Rahm Emanuel's new regime

On the pretext of policing upcoming G8 and Nato 
summits, Chicago's mayor has awarded himself draconian new powers
    * <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/bernard-harcourt>Bernard Harcourt
    * <http://www.guardian.co.uk/>guardian.co.uk,
    * Thursday 19 January 2012 17.57 EST

It's almost as if 
Emanuel was lifting a page from 
Klein's Shock Doctrine – as if he was reading her 
account of Milton Friedman's "Chicago Boys" as a 
cookbook recipe, rather than as the ominous 
episode that it was. 
record time, Emanuel successfully exploited the 
fact that Chicago will host the upcoming 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/g8>G8 and 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/nato>Nato summit 
meetings to increase his police powers and extend 
police surveillance, to outsource city services 
and privatize financial gains, and to make 
permanent new limitations on political dissent. 
It all happened – very rapidly and without time 
for dissent – with 
passage of rushed security and anti-protest 
measures adopted by the city council on 18 January 2012.

Sadly, we are all too familiar with the recipe by 
now: first, hype up and blow out of proportion a 
crisis (and if there isn't a real crisis, as in 
Chicago, then create one), call in the heavy 
artillery and rapidly seize the opportunity to 
expand executive power, to redistribute wealth 
for private gain and to suppress political 
dissent. As Friedman wrote in 
and Freedom in 1982 – and as Klein so eloquently describes in her book:

"Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces 
real change. When the crisis occurs, the actions 
that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying 
around. That, I believe, is our basic function 
until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

Today, it's more than mere ideas that are lying 
around; for several decades now, and especially 
since 9/11, there are blueprints scattered all around us.

Step 1: hype a crisis or create one if there 
isn't a real one available. Easily done:with 
images from London, Toronto, Genoa, and Seattle 
of the most violent anti-G8 
on Fox News and repeated references to anarchists 
and rioters, the pump is primed. Rather than 
discuss the 
Occupy Chicago protests over the past three 
months, city officials and the media focus on 
what Fraternal Order of Police President Michael 
Shields calls "people who travel around the world 
anarchists and rioters" and a 
of wild, anti-globalist anarchists". The looming 
Emanuel's draft legislation, now passed: 
"Whereas, Both the North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization ("Nato") and the Group of Eight 
("G8") summits will be held in the spring of 2012 
in the City of Chicago" and "whereas, the Nato 
and G8 Summits continue to evolve in terms of the 
size and scope, thereby creating unanticipated or 
extraordinary support and security needs 
" The 
crisis calls for immediate action.

Step 2: rapidly deploy excessive force. Again, 
easily done: Emanuel just gave himself the power 
to marshal and deputize – 
kid you not, look at page 3 – the 
States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United 
States Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and the entire 
United States Department of Justice (DOJ); as 
well as state police (the Illinois department of 
state police and the Illinois attorney general), 
county law enforcement (State's Attorney of Cook 
County), and any "other law enforcement agencies 
determined by the superintendent of police to be 
necessary for the fulfillment of law enforcement functions".

one commentator suggests, the final catch-all 
allows Emanuel to hire "anyone he wants, be they 
rent-a-cops, Blackwater goons on domestic duty, 
or whatever. For a city that has great problems 
keeping its directly sworn officers in check, 
this looser authority is an even greater license 
for abuse." Thanks to the coming G8 meeting, the 
Chicago police department has just gotten a lot 
to Fox News, "there will be hundreds, perhaps 
thousands of federal agents here."

Not just that, but Emanuel has also given himself 
the power to 
additional surveillance, including video, audio 
and telecommunications equipment. And not just 
for the period of the G8 and Nato summits, but 
permanently. These new provisions of the 
substitute ordinance apply "permanently": there 
is no sunset provision on either the police 
expansion or the surveillance. On this second, the new ordinance reads:

"The superintendent is also authorized to enter 
into agreements with public or private entities 
concerning placement, installation, maintenance 
or use of video, audio, telecommunications or 
other similar equipment. The location of any 
camera or antenna permanently installed pursuant 
to any such agreement shall be determined 
pursuant to joint review and approval with the 
executive director of emergency management and communications." [my emphasis]

Thanks to 
mobilization of the Occupy movement (including 
for the Bill of Rights) and other groups like 
ACLU, some of Emanuel's other draconian 
provisions were scaled back. Emanuel dropped his 
proposals to increase seven-fold the minimum fine 
for resisting arrest (including for passive 
resistance) from $25 to $200, to double the 
maximum fine for resisting arrest from $500 to 
$1,000, and to double the maximum fine for 
violations of the parade ordinance from $1,000 to 
$2,000. But the rest of his proposals – including 
the three-fold increase in the minimum fine for a 
violation of the parade ordinance – passed the City Council Thursday.

Step 3: 
the profits and socialize the costs. In Chicago, 
that translates into Emanuel outsourcing city 
services to private enterprises, but making sure 
the public will indemnify those private companies 
from future law suits. This is a two-part dance 
with which we have become all too familiar.

services are outsourced, often to circumvent 
labor and other regulations, and the income side 
of the public expenditures are shifted over to 
private enterprise and employees. 
the ordinance (see page 4):

"The mayor or his designees are authorized to 
negotiate and execute agreements with public and 
private entities for good, work or services 
regarding planning, security, logistics, and 
other aspects of hosting the Nato and G8 summits 
in the city in the Spring of 2012 
 and to 
provide such assurances, execute such other 
documents and take such other actions, on behalf 
of the city, as may be necessary or desirable to host these summits."

Second, the agreements can be entered "on such 
terms and conditions as the mayor or such 
designees deem appropriate" and these terms 
include, importantly, "indemnification by the 
city". In other words, any lawsuits will fall on 
the city taxpayers. The public will be left 
holding the bag if there is, for instance, police 
abuse or other mismanagement by private employers.

Step 4: use the crisis to expand executive power 
permanently and repress political dissent. Most 
of the ordinance revisions, it turns out, do not 
sunset with the departure of the G8 or Nato 
delegates. To be sure, there's a sunset provision 
for those contracts that specifically involve 
"hosting the Nato and G8 summits." That provision 
expires on 31 July 2012; but not the expanded 
police powers, nor the increased video 
surveillance, nor the other changes to the 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/protest>protest permit requirements.

The new rules affecting permits for protests and 
marches include details that impose onerous 
demands on dissent. As noted earlier, the minimum 
fine for a violation of the parade ordinance will 
increase from $50 to $200. On the parade permit 
applications, the protest organizers now must 
provide a general description of any sound 
amplification equipment that is on wheels or too 
large for one person to carry and/or any signs or 
banners that are too large for one person to 
carry. These may sound like small details, but 
they are precisely the kinds of nitpicking 
regulations that empower and expand police 
discretion to arrest and fine, and that make it 
harder to express political opinions.

It's another glaring example of what I have 
Illusion of Free Markets and the paradox of 
penality": the purported liberalization of the 
economy (here, the privatization of city 
services) goes hand-in-hand with massive 
policing. Scott Horton captured the idea well in 
under the rubric "The Despotism of Natural Law". 
Notice the neoliberal paradox: the fact that the 
city claims to be incompetent or unable to 
performs its ordinary functions implies that we 
need to both outsource city services and augment city police powers.

It was accomplished so quickly and seamlessly – 
passed practically overnight – that few seem to 
have noticed or had time to think through the 
long-term implications. There's not a mention in 
the New York Times and only a 
story in the Chicago Tribune. The crisis and fear 
of outside agitators, professional anarchists and 
rioters – splashed on the TV screens direct from 
London, Toronto, Genoa, Rome, or Seattle – is 
enough to create a permanent state of exception.

To make matters worse, this cookbook 
implementation of mini shock treatment follows on 
the heels of a severe crackdown on the Occupy 
Chicago movement that resulted 
arrest of over 300 Occupy protesters in Grant 
Park in October 2011. The prosecutions are still 
ongoing today and the effect on political dissent has been chilling.

In those 300 arrests, Rahm Emanuel and his police 
enforced a park curfewwithout finding reasonable 
ways to accommodate the political speech 
interests of the protesters, and beyond any 
semblance of a legitimate governmental interest. 
The massive arrests raise a clear first amendment 
problem – one that has been raised by the Occupy 
protesters and will be heard en masse at the 
Daley Center on 15 February. (Ironically, Emanuel 
and his police will effectively "Occupy the Daley Center".)

The first amendment argument is compelling, 
especially when you consider the disparate 
treatment that political expression receives in 
Chicago. Recall, for instance, how different 
things were in Grant Park on 
night 2008. Huge tents were pitched, commercial 
sound systems pounded rhythms and political 
discourse, enormous TVs streamed political 
imagery. More than 150,000 people blocked the 
streets and "occupied" Grant Park – congregating, 
celebrating, debating and discussing politics. 
That evening, President-elect Barack Obama would 
address the crowds late into the night and the 
assembled masses swarmed the park to the early 
morning hours. It was a memorable moment, perhaps 
a high point in political expression in Chicago.

Well, that was then. The low point would come 
three years later, almost to the day. On the 
evening of 15 October 2011, thousands of Occupy 
protesters marched to Grant Park and assembled at 
the entrance to the park to engage, once again, 
in political expression. But this time, the 
assembled group found itself surrounded by an 
intimidating police force, as police wagons began 
lining up around the political assembly. The 
police presence grew continually as the clock approached midnight.

Within hours, at the direction, ironically, of 
President Obama's former chief-of-staff (was Rahm 
Emanuel at Grant Park after hours, a few years 
earlier?), the Chicago Police Department began to 
arrest the protesters for staying in Grant Park 
beyond the 11pm curfew in violation of a mere park ordinance.

Emanuel could have ordered his police officers to 
issue written citations and move the protesters 
to the sidewalk. In fact, that's precisely what 
the police would do 
few weeks later at a more obstreperous protest by 
senior citizens at Occupy Chicago. On that 
occasion, 43 senior citizens who stopped traffic 
by standing or sitting in the middle of a 
downtown street were escorted by police officers 
off the street without being handcuffed, and were 
merely issued citations to appear in the 
department of administrative hearings. (Those 
arrests, however, took place under the watchful 
eye of Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and 
Democratic Representatives Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky and Mike Quigley.)

But not on 15 October or the following Saturday 
night. Instead of issuing citations, the Chicago 
police arrested over 300 protesters, placed them 
in handcuffs, treating the municipal park 
infractions as quasi-criminal charges, booked 
them, fingerprinted them and detained them 
overnight in police holding cells, some for as 
many as 17 hours. They are now aggressively 
prosecuting these cases in criminal court.

That's precisely the type of practice that chills 
political expression. The inconsistent treatment 
of political dissent in Grant Park or at the 
Chicago board of trade reflects the colossal 
amount of discretion that mayors and police 
chiefs have over political discourse today. 
Police discretion is wide, political expression is fragile.

Rahm Emanuel's message on the G8 and Nato 
meetings has been loud and clear – and chilling: 
the DEA, FBI, ATF, DOJ, state police and many 
other law enforcement agencies will be out in 
force; it will be harder to comply with the 
protest laws; and any deviations or errors will 
be costlier and punished. What's really troubling 
is that the G8 and Nato will come and go, but 
these reforms are with us in Chicago to stay. 
Chicago's mayor seems to be following in the 
footsteps of other municipal officials 
Rudy Giuliani's idea of staying on as mayor for 
an extra three months), who, with a touch of 
<http://potus.com/>Potus-envy and perhaps a small 
Napoleonic complex, begin to act like minor tyrants.

It'll be interesting to follow the first 
amendment litigation brought by the Occupy 
protesters. Their cases have been joined – there 
are about 100 of them in the challenge now – and 
their free speech claims will be heard by the 
chief judge at the Daley Center on 15 February 2012.

    * © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or 
its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

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