Convention clash: Anti-Israel protesters demand Chicago mayor let them rally ‘within sight and sound’ of DNC

A group of pro-Palestinian protesters is urging Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson to allow them to protest “within sight and sound” of the city’s convention center this summer.

The coalition is asking Johnson to intervene on their behalf and allow them to protest during the Democratic National Convention in August after their request was rejected by the city due to safety and traffic concerns.

“This convention will take place against the backdrop of an ongoing genocide in Gaza, where US-backed Israeli forces have murdered tens of thousands of Palestinians, most of the dead and injured being women and children,” the coalition wrote in a letter. “Polls have repeatedly indicated that majorities of voters want an immediate and lasting end to the bloodshed, and throughout the United States and around the world, there is a growing mass movement demanding that politicians take real action for Palestine. The Democratic Party must stop shutting out these voices and the people must be free to practice their constitutional rights to peaceably assemble and address those who govern in their name.”

The protesters are calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the war in Gaza. President Joe Biden’s pro-Israel stance has proven to be a weak point in his bid for reelection, leading to thousands of “protest votes” that did not go to any specific candidate in the primaries. 

The letter comes after Johnson delivered a tiebreaking vote in the City Council earlier this year, which approved a resolution calling for a ceasefire. After that vote, Johnson acknowledged the progressive Democratic groups that helped him get elected in the first place.

“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,” Johnson said.

The pressure to allow the protest has been growing recently, with more than 600 people calling for Johnson to authorize the protest during the convention. But coalition member Joe Iosbaker said they would march wherever they wanted, regardless of whether they have a permit.

“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,” Iosbaker told Axios. “There’s a genocide happening in Gaza; we’re marching with or without a permit.”


The Chicago Department of Transportation recommended that the protest occur three miles away from the convention, at Grant Park, instead of down the street from the stadium. 

Johnson was given until April 21, 2024, to respond to the letter. The letter was signed by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the Anti-War Committee, Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Illinois, and others.

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