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Anti-Israel groups accuse Chicago, DNC of trying to ‘protect’ Biden from protests at 2024 Dem convention

A coalition of anti-Israel agitators claim their First Amendment Rights have been violated by Chicago as they seek to protest outside the Democratic National Convention in August.

Anti-Israel groups accuse Chicago, DNC of trying to ‘protect’ Biden from protests at 2024 Dem convention

A coalition of anti-Israel agitators seeking to protest outside the Democratic National Convention in August are continuing to put pressure on the City of Chicago, alleging their First Amendment rights are being violated, while some Democrats fear unrest could disrupt the annual convention.

A series of lawsuits have been filed against the city in recent months by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the Anti-War Coalition, and Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Illinois — some of which have voiced support for the anti-Israel encampment at the University of Chicago.

In a Tuesday filing at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the coalition of protesters stated they want to "engage in peaceful political speech and seek to exercise their First Amendment rights at the Convention to deliver their political messages directly to… President Biden."

That effort is being stifled by the City of Chicago, which denied the groups "respective applications for parade permits within sight or sound of the Convention," according to the filing.

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"Instead, the City, on information at the behest of the DNC, unilaterally decided to offer an alternative parade route approximately four (4) miles away buried on a tree lined street in an entirely other part of the City, clearly to protect President Biden and others from hearing the Plaintiffs’ political message," the coalition stated in the filing. "In doing so, the City failed to consider to least restrictive route narrowly tailored to meet a compelling government interest. Indeed, the City admitted it considered no other alternative than the one it seeks to force on Plaintiffs and failed to engage Plaintiffs to consider less restrictive options."

The 2024 Democratic convention, which is slated to be held this summer in Chicago at the United Center from August 19 - 22, will be attended by Democrats from all over the country. It will also be where the party announces its official nominee for the 2024 presidential election, which is expected to be a rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump.

The groups also claimed the City of Chicago is "working with the DNC" in an effort "to limit the number of peaceful parades organized to deliver political speech by denying permit applications solely on the grounds that such applications are ‘duplicative.’"

"This provision violated the First Amendment on its face as it is vague and overly broad and has been interpreted by the Defendants to allow … not only [denying] permit applications but even seek criminal and civil penalties against any organization and its members applying for a parade permit on more than one date or against two or more organizations with even a single member in common which seek parade permits," the groups noted in the filing.

The groups filed for a preliminary injunction and have requested a federal judge grant them better access to the event for their planned protest, which has been dubbed "March on the DNC 2024."

"Instead of meeting with us and working out a compromise that brings us within sight and sound of the DNC, the city has tried to shut us away in a corner," Liz Rathburn, a member of the Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Illinois Chicago, told one local outlet last month.

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In a March filing, the coalition said Biden is "the one person who could stop the suffering in Gaza with a single phone call."

The Washington Post noted in a Saturday morning report that Democrats are "bracing for massive protests" at the August convention as more and more anti-Israel protests sweep the nation, primarily on college campuses.

"Peaceful protest is fundamental to American democracy, and has been a fixture of political conventions for decades," Matt Hill, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Convention, said in a statement to the outlet. "While Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans stoke political violence, we support the ongoing security coordination at all levels of government to keep our convention safe."

Hill added, "When the country looks to Chicago this August, the unity and excitement of Democrats will stand in stark contrast to the chaos and extremism stewing in the GOP."

Similar protests are planned for the Republican National Convention in July. However, the Post noted the protests planned for the Democratic National Convention are likely to be "more robust."

Members of the coalition previously vowed to protest "with or without" permits outside the convention.

"We’ll be marching with or without permits. This DNC is the most important one since 1968, also in Chicago when Vietnam War protesters and the black liberation movement organized mass demonstrations that were violently repressed," Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, said at a conference last month. "The march on the DNC will be the largest mobilization for Palestine in the history of the city."

Reacting to concern among Democrats who may be worried with how the protests could impact the party's image come August, Tesla CEO and X owner Elon Musk wrote in a Thursday post to X, "The Democratic National Convention this August has a good chance of outdoing 1968!"

Musk's comment on the matter referenced the party's 1968 convention, which was marred by seven days of violent protests over the Vietnam War under then-President Lyndon Johnson. The protests took place just months after the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

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