by Eric Peterson, Daily Herald
Schaumburg officials will not require permits for large demonstrations and protests, a measure proposed by the village's police chief following several incidents at pro-Donald Trump rallies held weekly since the fall.
"At this point, the village board has decided not to take any action and has tabled the item indefinitely," Mayor Tom Dailly said Tuesday. "For simple language, it was killed."
Sparked by some isolated incidents involving pro-Trump demonstrators and counterprotesters at the intersection of Golf and Meacham roads, Police Chief Bill Wolf suggested a permit be required for gatherings of more than 50 people or 25 vehicles.
The requirement was intended to give officials an estimate of crowd sizes in advance, and make the groups share in the cost of the police presence, just as with any other scheduled special event. Over the past year, such rallies have resulted in $150,000 of police overtime costs and a couple calls for assistance from outside agencies.
The suggested ordinance also contained criteria for dispersing gatherings when necessary for public safety.
While the ordinance was intended to be respectful of free speech and peaceful protest, a few village residents who described themselves as supporters of other political causes -- including equal rights and universal health care -- accused it of overreach.
Village board members indicated they ultimately agreed with that assessment.
"We talked about it," said Trustee Frank Kozak, who chairs the public safety committee that previously reviewed the ordinance. "I"m totally in agreement with the First Amendment. What we were looking at was a safety issue. We're fortunate that there haven't been any huge disruptions. Every so often you're going to get a disruptive individual. We're just trying to keep things calm and work with the people."
Wolf earlier clarified that the police department has received strong cooperation from the organizers of rallies in the village over the past year -- Trump supporters since the fall and Black Lives Matter supporters last summer.
If the ordinance had been approved, it would have been enforced in a reasonable manner, he added. Of late, the number of Trump supporters at the Sunday rallies has fallen below the threshold of 50 people needed for the proposed permit requirement.
While sentiment at Tuesday's village board meeting was largely against the permit requirement, one resident who described himself as a Republican said he found the Sunday rallies to be "silly" and a danger to traffic there.