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Ald. Rick Munoz’ Free Speech and Protection of Press Ordinance

The "free speech zone" at the 2004 D...
"Free Speech Zone" at Democratic Convention. Image via Wikipedia

On Feb. 13, Ald. Rick Munoz of the 22nd Ward introduced the Free Speech and Protection of the Press ordinance at city council. It prohibits police from blocking access to social media and cell phone networks during the G8 and NATO summits in May.  He is putting his ideas, and suggestions from voters and constituents into this ordinance which also prohibits police from cooperating with any agency attempting to slow down, stop or monitor internet access to sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube, according to  Progress Illinois, you can read the text of the proposal below.

Ald. Munoz action seems timely in the face of  the announcement this week of the $6 million dollar settlement between the City of Chicago and more than 800 anti-war activists who were subject to mass arrest  in 2003.

Munoz  voted in January, to pass Mayor Emanuel’s ordinance that tightened restrictions on parade organizers and gave Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy the power to deputize law enforcement from other states and closes parks to the public for an extra two hours, took  heat from constituents for his stand. He has been listening to those opposed to the new clampdown measures, and is looking to open discussions of how to balance increased security measures and protections for First Amendment rights.

An aldermanic assistant observed that they had gotten a “decent amount of calls in support of the ordinance.”  Munoz approach is not confrontational, but is designed to encourage transparency. Meetings between the Mayor and city officials with business leaders have been held, but neither City Council nor the public have been included in the discussions, according to Munoz spokesman, Andrew Sharp.

Mr. Sharp claims that the public often underestimates their influence and power with the rise of social media. So this is a good time to have your say about the proposed ordinance, and the restrictive ordinances supported by Mayor Emanuel. Contact your Alderman. What is he or she doing for our right to speak out and our right to be protected?

You can tweet a question or comment to Ald. Rick Munoz (@AldermanMunoz22)

Text of the Ordinance:

Submitting a Proposed Ordinance sponsored by
RICARDO MUNOZ, Alderman Twenty-Second Ward
WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Chicago has given the Mayor of Chicago and the Chicago Police
Department extraordinary police powers in advanced of the G8/NATO meetings as defined in the amended
Municipal Code 10-8-330 and 10-8-330 et seq.; and
WHEREAS, these extraordinary police powers demonstrate the City of Chicago’s commitment to providing
public safety for its citizens and should be adequate to meet the needs of the G8/NATO events; and
WHEREAS, the City of Chicago is committed to navigating the balance between public safety and the rights of
citizens to be informed via the press, to privacy in their persons, property and communications; and
WHEREAS, interfering in the freedoms of speech, press and privacy are breaches of basic Constitutional rights
and can lead to governmental overreach and spark the public disorder that will endanger the lives and property
of the citizens of Chicago; and
WHEREAS, the City Council and Mayor of Chicago have been elected to carry out their duties as outlined in
the Chicago Municipal Code Chapters 2-8-850 and 2-4-010 et seq. respectively; and
WHEREAS, Chapter 7-50 of the Chicago Municipal Code, covering the Wireless Communications and the
Chicago Emergency Telephone System Board created in Chapter 3-64 of the Code does not take into account
the internet’s status as the new public square or fully reflect the power inherent in the Mayor’s and the Chicago
Police Department’s enhanced police powers; and
WHEREAS, this ordinance in no way interferes with legitimate and Constitutional law enforcement activities
and operations; and
WHEREAS, the City of Chicago will soon pay $6.2 million dollars to settle claims that the Chicago Police Department
violated the rights of anti-Iraq War protestors in 2003 and has already paid over $40 million to settle allegations of police
misconduct in the Burge case
WHEREAS, the Mayor’s expressed commitment to showcasing Chicago as a world-class, international city
depends on the city demonstrating it is a respecter and defender of Constitutional rights and the highest
international norms in regards to freedoms of speech, the press and privacy; and
WHEREAS, by means of this ordinance, the City of Chicago will protect the Internet, which is the new public
square, from being censored; and
WHEREAS, the time to protect uncomfortable, inconvenient and dissenting speech is exactly when difficult
events are occurring; and
WHEREAS, all segments of our community should be informed and give their perspective on the G8/NATO
meetings to create positive civic pressure that will prompt citizens, elected officials and law enforcement
agencies to be on their best behavior and will protect the rights of privacy, press and speech for all Chicago’s
Citizens. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED, by the City Council of the City of Chicago, that Chapter 7-50 of
the Chicago Municipal Code, covering Wireless Communications be amended in reference to the Chicago
Emergency Telephone System Board created by chapter 3-64 of this Code as follows:
The Chicago Police Department and the City of Chicago will not cooperate or engage in activities
including, but not limited to:
(a) Shutting down mobile tower communications during the G8/NATO as part of a crowd control or
emergency strategy as this will place untold citizens and persons both within the range of the towers and
those outside of the area communicating with those people in even more danger, while also doing
definite economic harm to those depending on cell service to conduct commerce.
(b) Selectively blocking access to the internet and social media sites and websites to prevent the
dissemination of information by individuals during the G8/NATO.
(c) Identifying and blocking certain social media and websites in order to control speech and information
that is not of a criminal nature during the G8/NATO.
(d) Engaging in the practice of track-tracing, using confiscated PDA’s phones and computers to locate
individuals, to monitor or block mobile phone and web access, or to target specific websites, chat rooms
and other social media from the general public during the G8/NATO.
LET IT ALSO BE ORDAINED, by the City Council of the City of Chicago that the City of Chicago will
behave in accordance with the Constitution of the United States of America as follows:
Unless agents have a criminal warrant for the arrest of an individual on charges
(a) The Chicago Police Department shall not engage in or facilitate preventive detention of any person in its
jurisdiction as such measures serve no legitimate law enforcement purpose. Nor will agents engaging in
preventative detention be given access to or use of City facilities for investigative interviews or other
purposes, and City personnel shall not expend their time responding to preventive detention inquiries or
communicating or cooperating with agents engaged in preventive detention activities; and
(b) The Chicago Police Department will not cooperate with any state or federal entity engaged in any of the
above causes as outlined in the ordinance, including preventive detention, selective blocking of the
internet, cutting off cell service and/or track tracing during the G8/NATO.
LET IT ALSO BE ORDAINED, by the City Council of the City of Chicago that the City of Chicago will
behave in accordance with the Constitution of the United States of America as follows:
By insuring that there will be a wider credentialing of independent media to insure a diversity of
perspectives, access and information for the general public during the G8/NATO.
(a) The Chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Human Relations shall establish an 8-person
temporary media committee composed of the Council’s reform caucus, civil rights, human rights and
social justice organizations and representatives of the City of Chicago from the Mayor’s Office to
credential media sources in order to increase the public’s access to the G8/NATO meetings.
(b) This will open accreditation to neighborhood organizations, education institutions, public interest
organizations, non-profits, web and social media sites and other civic organizations to reflect the
diversity of perspectives and speech that will be needed to create positive civic pressure on elected
officials, citizens, visitors and public safety officials and agents during the G8/NATO events to be on
their best behavior.
Effective Date: This ordinance shall be in effect immediately upon adoption.

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