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City Warns Of Election Night Protests — But Few In Works So Far

Six locations in the city could see protests tonight, according to the city.

Demonstrators clash with police on Michigan Avenue after getting turned back from crossing the Chicago River on May 30, 2020. A Black Lives Matter demonstration drew thousands in Chicago Saturday as part of a nationwide day of protest over the recent killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.
Max Herman/Chicago Reporter
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DOWNTOWN — The city’s emergency management agency is alerting residents to possible election night protests throughout the city. But so far, many activist groups have not signaled any plans to demonstrate.

Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications alerted residents Tuesday afternoon of expected protest activity at six locations.

People should expect possible traffic disruptions and protests at Federal Plaza, Millennium Park, Hyde Park, Union Park, Wrigley Field and Palmer Square Park, according to the alerts.

City officials have been preparing for possible election-related protests, but most activist groups in the city have not announced plans for election night activity.

Organizers for some groups, including GoodKids MadCity, said they are not planning election night protests, although some are scheduled for Wednesday.

Despite that, some businesses have boarded up their windows and doors ahead of election results.

As polls closed Tuesday, city officials raised the Wabash Avenue bridge over the Chicago River to prevent access to Trump Tower. Police officials in tweets showed officers stationed throughout the city.

An OEMC spokesperson said in a statement there are “a small number of demonstrations that we are aware of” and officials are “committed to protecting residents’ First Amendment Right to peacefully demonstrate and we are prepared to protect that right while keeping all residents and businesses safe.”   

Various city agencies met for a briefing on election night preparedness Tuesday, according to the emergency management agency.

Through Sunday, there will be more officers on patrol, the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications will “monitor any activity and crowds” and the city has sent out garbage trucks and other large vehicles to protect business-heavy strips in the neighborhoods, the Mayor’s Office announced Friday.

RELATED: City Putting More Cops On Streets, Protecting Businesses Over Concerns About Election Day Unrest

Officials said they hope the measures can make people feel safer as they cast a ballot and await results during what is expected to be a tense week.

The city’s efforts are focused on two issues, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday: election integrity and public safety.

Critics have expressed concern on social media over the plan, which largely mirrors what the city did over the summer, when there were large protests over police violence and when businesses were looted and vandalized. Protesters and officers routinely — and, at times, violently — clashed.

Lightfoot did not directly say officers wouldn’t interfere in potential protests, but she said police will support people who are expressing their First Amendment rights — though she repeatedly said Chicagoans should be “peaceful.”

“I want to stress that while CPD is focused on crime prevention, our officers will continue to ensure residents expressing First Amendment rights are protected and given the support they need to stay safe,” Lightfoot said.

“… Chicago: We have to be smart, safe and peaceful. No matter the outcomes of next Tuesday’s elections, we all know that emotions will be high because they already are. I urged you to channel those emotions into peaceful and productive expressions.”

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