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City agrees to alternate route for protesters during NATO summit

Andy Thayer leads NATO Protesters news conference City Chicago Central Hearing Facility before appeal hearing review City's rejectianti-NATO protest permit

Andy Thayer leads NATO Protesters in news conference at City of Chicago Central Hearing Facility, before appeal hearing to review City's rejection of anti-NATO protest permit refiled by activists after the G8 Summit was cancelled, Tuesday, March 27, 2012. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

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Updated: May 6, 2012 8:20AM

The city on Wednesday approved a permit allowing potentially thousands of protesters to march on the outskirts of the Loop to McCormick Place where international leaders will gather for the NATO summit next month, march organizers said.

The city has also agreed to waive fees for the use of Petrillo band shell in Grant Park, where the anti-war march will begin. While protesters originally asked for the city to pick up insurance costs for using the band shell, the protest group ended up securing that themselves.

The city, however, denied a request by march organizers to side with protesters if the Secret Service creates a security perimeter which keeps them far from summit. That’s not a deal breaker, says protest organizer Andy Thayer.

“We fully expect there to be a problem with the feds, but the main thing is we have a permit now that allows us to begin publicizing the protest,” Thayer said.

The march will begin at Petrillo band shell on May 20th — the opening day of the summit — and proceed west on Jackson South on State Street, east on Harrison and South on Michigan Avenue to McCormick Place.

The Coalition Against the NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda originally asked to march from Daley Plaza through the center of the Loop and along Michigan Avenue and State Street, in hopes of spreading their anti-war message to the public and, at a minimum, 25 foreign delegations attending the summit.

The city denied the permit request, saying that the thousands of protesters expected for the proposed march would tie up arterial streets as foreign dignitaries are ferried from Near North Side and downtown hotels to McCormick Place. An administrative law judge upheld the city’s decision.

The protesters then agreed to another route, which they say Mike Simon, the city’s assistant transportation commissioner offered them as an alternative. That was the route approved Wednesday.

A spokesman for the city didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

But Thayer said: “The reason we’re fighting for the permit is we want a meaningful expression of first amendment.”

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