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How to plan a protest

The lowdown on the city’s requirements and the extras you’ll need to plan a rally.


Want to take your grievances to the streets? Based on CANG8’s experience preparing for its NATO summit protest, here’s a primer for the application process to publicly (and legally) exercise your First Amendment right—and some extras that donations to your cause can help fund.

You need separate permits for a rally and a march, which can last a max two hours and 15 minutes. The parade app must include: a nonrefundable $50 “processing fee”; the route, including a list of all sidewalks and lanes of traffic occupied; a rundown of the “parade units [groups participating] in numerical order, with a description and an estimate of the size or length of each unit,” as well as the approximate number of people, vehicles, floats—and animals!—involved; a description of any sound equipment and signs “too large to be carried by one person.” The applicant also has to “agree to reimburse the city for any damage to the public way or city property” and secure a $1 million liability insurance policy.

Legal representation (National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU are good pro-bono options): Free
Stage and sound system: $2,800 from Rok Steady Staging (the company must have $3 million in insurance)
Portable toilets: $2,444 for 20 from AJAX Waste Services (again, the company needs to have $3 million in insurance)
Tents: $1,200 for two from Wilson Rental
Water: To be determined
Bus rental: $200–$300 for two buses from Latino Express to transport protesters who can’t make the march from the Petrillo Band Shell to the end point
Legal observers: Free, from the NLG
Medics: Free, from Chicago Action Medical
Stickers: $1,100 for 24,000 stickers from Tampico Press.

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