Chicago Police Department leadership has pretty broad guesses about what security will be needed for the NATO and G8 summits, how many people will come in to Chicago to attend the summits, and who might be arrested for protesting the summit.
“This is a federal, White House event and we don’t have a lot of information at this time,” said Debra Kirby, the police department’s chief of international relations in response to questions posed by Ald. Ed Burke (14th) at a city council Budget and Government Operations committee hearing today. The NATO and G8 summits will be held at McCormick Place more or less simultaneously, May 19-21.
“Frankly, it leaves a lot of unknown questions at this time,” she added.
Kirby’s remarks came at a hearing where a substitute ordinance written by Rahm Emanuel to deal with the summits passed by a voice vote.
The ordinance is expected to sail through another city council committee today (the Special Events Committee), and then pass the full council tomorrow – particularly since a revised version of the ordinance introduced today scraps increased fines for protesters who resist arrest.
Instead, those penalized for obstructing or resisting a police officer will continue to pay a fine in the range of $25 to $500.
The increased fines – and their abrupt revocation today – have gotten a lot of ink.
But the budget committee hearing indicated there are other worrisome aspects of the city’s preparation.
One such aspect is the deployment and cost of law enforcement personnel.
The NATO/G8 ordinance would allow the Chicago Police Department to deputize personnel to patrol Chicago during this time, presumably police officers that come from other cities or states. Garry McCarthy, the city’s police superintendent, stressed at the hearing that deputizing is a “common procedure” at big international events to be “used only as needed.”
But CPD must defer to federal authorities that will provide security both for foreign dignitaries and the actual NATO/G8 events. McCarthy acknowledged under questioning from Ald. Ray Suarez (31st) that the feds call the shots over whether extra security is needed.
Moreover, “it has not been determined,” McCarthy said, if the city will be fully reimbursed by the federal government for any extra security that federal officials request.
Another issue: The city doesn’t know how many people the summit will attract. Kirby says, “anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 people is the guess,” when it comes to the number of NATO and G8 delegates and staff expected to attend. Also, there will be, “2,500 to 3,000 international journalists” and anywhere between, “2,000 to 10,000 protesters.”
A few dozen of these protesters were in attendance inside and outside council chambers today and are expected to return tomorrow for the full council meeting. Stand Up! Chicago held a press conference at 9 a.m. this morning to protest what they say is, “Rahm Emanuel’s assault on the constitutional rights of Chicagoans.”
Part of what upsets some protesters is that it’s not clear what spontaneous demonstrations, i.e. those held without acquiring a city permit before the summits, the police will allow.
Protesters jeered during an exchange between Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Ralph Price, general counsel for CPD, when Price said he “could not delineate what actions” would result in arrest because it is hard to predict the behavior of protesters.
“It would be a dynamic situation,” Price said.