Chicago Secret Service discusses DNC preparations amid resident concerns

Chicago is two months away from the start of the 2024 Democratic National Convention (DNC).

In a FOX 32 Special Report, Paris Schutz goes one-on-one with the Chicago Secret Service on how preparations for the event are going.

Georgina Pereira has been operating her Brazilian restaurant, Sinha, in the basement of her town home just outside the United Center for 18 years.

"Do all the cooking, all the decoration, all the menus, I set up all the menus," said Pereira.

Pereira is used to events like Bulls and Blackhawks games and concerts.  However, the DNC promises to have a major impact on her home and business. She's likely to fall within a yet to be decided security perimeter around the United Center.

She's also been told she'll have to have her car searched every time she chooses to leave her house during the week of the convention.

"I think I'm going to lose a little bit of freedom in terms of coming and going, but that should be expected," said Pereira.

Chicago Ald. Walter Burnett of the 27th Ward represents the area and lives two blocks from the United Center. He said he still has a lot of unanswered questions for the Secret Service, both as a representative and as a resident.

"I know they can't tell us everything for security purposes, but only thing we need to know is how we get to work, how we get to go to the store, how we get to the doctor. All those basic things that normal people have in their lives," said Burnett.

For the folks that live and work close to this perimeter, they are wondering: is it going to be safe?

"It will be safe, and we want everyone from Chicago to enjoy this historic event," said Derek Mayer, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Chicago Field Office.

Mayer explained the efforts they've been undertaking to maintain city operations during the DNC. However, he noted that a specific security plan, including a perimeter, wouldn't be finalized until late July.

"We understand that mail still needs to get delivered. We understand that Amazon packages still need to be delivered, and we're working with the local community to ensure that still happens," said Mayer.

The medical district is also very close to the United Center, and many are wondering how security at the DNC could impact the area.


"Very good question. We have been working specifically on issue for several months with the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department to ensure that the hospitals remain open and the passageways for emergency vehicles can still get to these hospitals unimpeded," said Mayer.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC) distributed pamphlets to residents and businesses with one including a QR code that takes them to a website where they can fill out a survey.

Pereira simply wants to know if she can operate her business as normal during and in the weeks leading up to the DNC, and whether it will be safe for customers to come.

At a recent joint appearance with CPD Supt. Larry Snelling, U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle promised a security plan that would minimize headaches for Chicago residents. Snelling said that protests that disrupt the lives of locals would not be tolerated.

"If you block a roadway, or you block a venue, or you're on private property and you refuse to leave, those are crimes," said Snelling.

If security preparations mean Sinha has to shut down for the week, Periera said DNC officials can make it up to her with a catering contract to feed some SNC VIPs.

The convention runs from Aug. 19 until Aug. 22, but the disruption could start earlier than that.