The city will reverse a Cook County judge’s ruling that tossed out the mass arrests of Occupy Chicago protesters in Grant Park, Mayor Rahm Emanuel predicted Friday, saying his administration's enforcement of a park curfew is on “firm ground as it relates both to public safety and First Amendment rights.”
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Thomas M. Donnelly ruled Thursday that the city unfairly singled out protesters for violating the park's 11 p.m. curfew in October 2011, when police arrested hundreds of people. And the judge said the curfew itself was a violation of the public's right to free assembly.
Donnelly pointed out in his ruling that nobody was arrested when hundreds of thousands of people stayed in Grant Park past 11 p.m. for President Barack Obama's November 2008 election night rally.
Emanuel said Donnelly was “comparing apples and oranges.”
“One, they got a permit, two they weren't planning on sleeping overnight,” Emanuel said of the Obama rally. “Those are kind of fundamental differences.”
But Donnelly rejected the mayor’s argument in his ruling, saying the city doesn’t get to pick and choose whether it will lift the curfew by granting a permit to groups it favors.
Asked about Donnelly's assertion that the arrests at Grant Park restricted access to an important spot for public assembly in the city, Emanuel said: “There will be another judge who will also be given a chance to weigh in. That doesn't mean it's the final word, as I think you know that.”
“We believe, based on both Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1984, decisions other cities have made, this ordinance balances both public safety and public free speech,” he said during an unrelated news conference at a South Loop bar.
The city filed a notice of appeal Friday, according to Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times