In Chicago, a mayor with activist roots prepares for a potentially volatile Democratic convention

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CHICAGO — Mayor Brandon Johnson is the first to brandish his past activism and roots as an organizer. That has helped contribute to a now well-worn worry that he won’t rein in protesters during what’s expected to be a highly charged Democratic National Convention. 

But so far, he has made few people happy before the August nominating event.

On one hand, critics argue Johnson won’t do enough to dissuade bad actors from coming to the city in the first place. On the other, protest groups are taking the city to court, complaining that it has denied their permits to march close to two main convention sites: the United Center and McCormick Place.

In an interview, Johnson, who just completed his first year in office, stressed that safety would come first but that law enforcement would also focus on de-escalation tactics and commit to giving activists room to peacefully protest. He won’t tolerate mayhem, he said.