Chicago aldermen want crack down on City Hall gallery outbursts

February 17, 2012

Michell Eloy

Booing could soon be banned at Chicago City Council.

Under a new ordinance endorsed by four high-ranking Chicago aldermen, "no demonstration of approval or disapproval from members of the public shall be permitted within the City Council Chambers, including, but not limited to cheering, yelling, clapping, foot stomping, whistling, booing, or jeering."

The measure, which is signed by Ald. Ed Burke, Ald. Ray Suarez, Ald. Richard Mell and Ald. Carrie Austin, would also give city council the power to "clear" the chamber should that ordinance be violated.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday the city's lawyers are looking into the proposal.

"People have a right to have their voices heard," Emanuel said. "Also, we have business to conduct, and we'll balance those two so people have the first amendment right."

The ordinance would also ban "signs, placards, banners, or posters" in the chamber except those approved prior to council meetings.

A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois calls the proposed ordinance, "troubling."

In a statement, Burke said the proposal was "introduced as a courtesy in response to a suggestion by the Sergeant-at-Arms and should make for a lively discussion."