CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago officials warned the nation's largest nurses union on Tuesday that a rally and parade planned just days before the NATO summit would be canceled unless they agree to change the location, saying a performance by "Rage Against the Machine" guitarist Tom Morello would draw far more people than originally expected.
Thousands of members of National Nurses United were expected to rally downtown on May 18 to demand a "Robin Hood" tax on banks and other financial institutions. It was scheduled for the first day of the G-8 summit, which originally was to be held in Chicago but since has been moved to Camp David in Maryland.
The NATO summit will be held in Chicago May 20-21 and also is expected to draw thousands of protesters.
In a letter to the nurses union, the city's transportation department said the rally location would be moved from Daley Plaza downtown to a band shell on Lake Michigan because Morello's performance could draw several thousand more people than expected, potentially causing traffic problems and requiring more police officers.
Officials also said the union had been actively recruiting more participants in recent months but failed to tell the city that the number likely would swell from the 1,000 participants that the union predicted when its application was first approved. Citing other performances by Morello, the city said the rally could draw more than 5,000 people, exceeding Daley Plaza's capacity.
National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said the union would file a lawsuit, claiming the city was "playing fast and loose with the law" and wanted to move the rally "to an obscure place."
"It's pretty stunning that nurses and Tom Morello are considered a national security threat," DeMoro told The Associated Press. "Nurses aren't exactly violent people."
Chicago Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew said the changes were made to ensure the safety of the participants and that the Petrillo Band Shell, where the rally was moved, is "not an obscure place."
"It is a secure area that can accommodate many thousands of people," he said.
Telephone and email messages left with the mayor's office Tuesday were not immediately returned.
The city also has changed the group's parade route to reflect the new rally site.Tags: