NATO protest organizers Tuesday announced they'd locked down the last piece of their protest puzzle permission from the city to set up a stage and sound system three blocks from McCormick Place, which is as close to the summit as they'll be allowed to gather.
After weeks of silence from the city on that request, permission was granted late Monday night, organizers of a May 20th protest march and rally said at a news conference outside McCormick Place, where the May 20-21 NATO Summit is being held.
"The devil is in the details on this thing, and if you do not have a sound system, if you do not have a stage on which to express your First Amendment rights, then those rights are relatively meaningless when you're talking about a few thousand people," organizer Andy Thayer said.
The staging area will be erected at Michigan and Cermak, where organizers with the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda said they will end their march from Grant Park to McCormick Place on the opening day of the summit.
There, anti-war U.S. veterans who will lead the march will host a closing ceremony limited by the city to 45 minutes during which the vets will symbolically give back their war medals. Organizers said they anticipate a peaceful march and closing rally.
"We have been working for 11 months to get a legally permitted, family friendly march. Our last challenge was to get sound for the vets at the closing rally," said organizer Pat Hunt. "We've got that now, and we're turning our focus to NATO."
Also Tuesday, at least four people were arrested in a march held by immigration protesters that began in Pilsen and ended at the Chicago Immigration Court, 525 W. Van Buren. Organized by Occupy Chicago and Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission, the protest was one of several being held this week in the build-up to the summit.