Emanuel defends arrest of 175 Occupy Chicago protesters
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporteremail@example.com October 18, 2011 3:35PM
Updated: October 18, 2011 3:35PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday defended the Chicago Police Department’s weekend decision to forcibly remove Occupy Chicago protesters who refused to leave Grant Park and acknowledged that he was consulted before the arrests were made.
Emanuel has a reputation for being a bit of a control freak and that’s not about to change after what happened Saturday night.
On Tuesday, the mayor acknowledged that he was in “consultation and conversation” with Police Supt. Garry McCarthy before police took roughly 175 demonstrators into custody roughly two hours after Grant Park’s mandatory closing time.
“There’s a very specific law as it relates to closing down the park. There was conversation between the Police Department and the protesters about respecting that — and it starts at 11 o’clock — about vacating Grant Park,” the mayor said at an unrelated news conference.
“Those conversations went all the way to — and I’m doing this by memory — like 12:30 [a.m.] to 1 o’clock-ish. And at that point, [after] Garry and I have had a couple of conversations throughout the night, we have to respect what the law is, and we have to enforce it.”
The small, but growing protests by Occupy Chicago are widely viewed as a test for how the city will handle the much larger group of demonstrators expected to descend on Chicago during the NATO and G8 summits next spring.
That’s apparently why Emanuel is hoping to chart a path with the protesters going forward.
“After that, I asked our Police Department and Law Department to see if we couldn’t find a way to go forward so they can continue to express themselves, which is what happens in a democracy, with also respect for the law for everybody involved,” the mayor said.
“So, the Police Department and Corp Counsel are working toward that.”
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported Tuesday that leaders of Occupy Chicago have reached out to the billionaire Pritzker family in hopes of setting up shop in Pritzker Park near Harold Washington Library.