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Pro-Palestinian activists vow to march without permit at DNC after DePaul encampment taken down

Palestinian activist group won't seek permit for DNC protest march
Palestinian activist group won't seek permit for DNC protest march 00:39

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A coalition of pro-Palestinian activist groups on Thursday dropped plans to seek a permit to march during the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 21 and vowed instead to march without permits after Chicago police took down a student encampment at DePaul University.

Organizers said "tens of thousands" of protesters plan to march during the convention in August.

The Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine had planned to seek a permit to march from Union Park, at 1501 W. Randolph St., to the United Center on Aug. 21. Instead, it tore up their permit application outside City Hall in protest of the removal of the pro-Palestinian encampment at DePaul.

"I have no intention with collaborating with a city that is inherently racist, that bolsters their police state, which in turn aids the genocide of my people in Gaza," said Jenin Alharithi, with Students for Justice in Palestine.

Hatem Abudayyeh, national chair of the United States Palestinian Community Network, said protest organizers do not believe the city would have approved their permit application, after denying other requests for permits to march near the DNC, and after the city removed the DePaul encampment.

"After what we saw, and what we experienced, we just decided that we're not going to file," Abudayyeh said.

The coalition instead plans to hold the Aug. 21 march without a permit, protest organizers said. In the meantime, the coalition has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force the city to issue permits for two other protest marches planned within blocks of the United Center during the convention.

"We will have tens of thousands of people in the streets of Chicago that week. It will be the largest mobilization for Palestinian rights in the history of this city," Abudayyeh said.

Pro-Palestinian activist groups had sought permits for protest marches on the first and last days of the convention, with parade routes that would have taken them within one block of the United Center. The Chicago Department of Transportation denied those requests.

The groups appealed their denial but were again rejected by the city's Department of Administrative Hearings.

Their lawsuit against the city claims the city denied their application for protest permits within blocks of the DNC "based on unspecified security concerns immediately around the United Center."

In denying their permits, the city offered an alternative route through Grant Park, more than three miles away, but protest organizers have said that is unacceptable, as their protest would not be visible to DNC delegates or other convention guests.

City officials did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit when it was filed in March, and the city has yet to file a formal response in court.

Protest organizers said, regardless of what happens with the lawsuit, they plan to march near the United Center during the DNC, with or without permits.

"We have the right to speak. This is our right guaranteed under the Constitution. We have the right to assemble, we have the right to protest, and we have the right to demand, and we will uphold the Constitution, and we will do what is within our rights under the Constitution, and go to the DNC," said Tarek Khalil, education chair of American Muslims for Palestine. "This is our enshrined right under the Constitution."

Protest organizers also criticized Chicago police for dismantling the DePaul protest and arresting two people in the process.

Chicago police said a man and woman were arrested outside the encampment for obstruction of traffic. Protesters said police removed the woman's hijab as they arrested her and pulled the man down by a helmet he was wearing.

"None of those students are afraid or intimidated by their local police, by their administrators, even by the most powerful forces in this country. They're not afraid because they know that we have no other choice but to protest the way we're protesting. It's the only way to stop the genocide," Abudayyeh said.

Since Gaza's Hamas rulers sparked the war with their Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel's retaliatory offensive in the territory, according to its health ministry. The United Nations estimates that at least 1.7 million people — more than half of Gaza's population — have been displaced from their homes since the war started.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been adamant since Oct. 7 that the only way to respond to Hamas' slaughter of some 1,200 people is to destroy the group, and he's vowed to carry out a ground offensive in Rafah, the last Gazan city so far spared an all-out assault.

Israel says there are four Hamas battalions still there, but there are also hundreds of thousands of civilians who sought refuge in the southern city over seven months of war, and the U.S. and other Israeli allies have warned against a full-scale ground invasion.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), who has been an outspoken supporter of pro-Palestinian activists, called the police dismantling of the DePaul encampment a "shameful attack on freedom of speech."

The alderman also said he fears the decision to take down the DePaul encampment opens the city to federal lawsuits for violating protesters' First Amendment rights.

Sigcho-Lopez said the city "has a responsibility for the public safety of all our constituents. I did not see that at DePaul University this morning," 

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