By Jane Ramsey
The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs strongly urges the Chicago City Council and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to reject an ordinance proposed Feb. 15 by Alds. Burke, Mell, Austin and Suarez that would limit public discussion.
The ordinance, if passed, would restrict the public’s right to voice their satisfaction or dissatisfaction at Chicago City Council meetings, eliminating demonstrations of approval or disapproval from members of the public including, but not limited to cheering, yelling, clapping, foot stomping, whistling, booing, or jeering. The changes also would prohibit signs, placards, banners or posters within the chambers unless pre-approved by the Mayor or alderman leading the meeting.
The proposed ordinance hampers the public’s first amendment right to freedom of expression at the exact critical juncture when policies are being debated by our elected representatives.
Such unprecedented restrictions would send a chilling message to the public, and to the nation at large, regarding the Chicago City Council’s lack of regard for core principles of democracy and for the Chicago public’s right to expression during Council meetings where policies and programs that affect the public’s everyday lives are discussed.
We urge the Chicago City Council and Mayor Emanuel to roundly reject this proposal.