Apr 11, 2024 - News

Pro-Palestinian protesters ramp up pressure on Chicago ahead of DNC

protestors in chicago

Demonstrators hold signs during a pro-Palestinian protest outside the Israeli consulate in Chicago on April 5, 2024. Photo: Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu via Getty Images

A coalition of pro-Palestinian protesters is calling on Mayor Brandon Johnson to intervene and allow them to march closer to the Democratic National Convention in August.

Why it matters: Protestors are determined to make the convention a flashpoint over President Biden's unsuccessful ceasefire negotiations in Gaza — a key vulnerability for Biden this election year.

The latest: The coalition sent a letter to Johnson urging him to allow protestors to be "within sight and sound of the United Center," after they were denied a permit to be down the street from the stadium.

  • Signers included the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the Anti-War Committee, Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Illinois and others.

Catch up quick: The City denied their earlier request, citing traffic and safety concerns.

  • The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) proposed an alternative route in Grant Park, more than three miles away.

Plus: All of this comes as ACLU and other civil rights advocates have requested a federal judge review an order issued to Chicago police officers in response to crowds and protests in anticipation of the DNC.

  • They say the order could result in unjust mass arrests and fail to comply with the department's federal reform mandate regarding use of force reporting and investigations.
  • The city has until April 21 to respond to the groups' request.

The intrigue: The coalition's letter to Johnson cites his tie-breaking vote this year to approve a City Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

  • After the vote, Johnson nodded to the progressive roots that helped him get elected: "I'm not mayor of the city of Chicago if people weren't pushing the government to recognize people's humanity and understand the value of what liberation means for people, groups and nations."

What they're saying: Coalition member Joe Iosbaker tells Axios the mayor is getting public pressure to allow the group to march near the United Center.

  • "Over 600 people sent emails to the chief of staff and CDOT, and at multiple protests we've had countless people take out their phones and call the chief of staff."

The other side: At an Eid celebration yesterday, Johnson said, "I stand with you in the fight for peace so that we all can have a safe home. Whether it's from Garfield Park on the West Side of Chicago or in Gaza," the Sun-Times reported.

What's next: Iosbaker says the groups will march where they want, regardless of the city's decision.

  • "There's a genocide happening in Gaza; we're marching with or without a permit," he says.
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