Activists Disappeared Ahead of NATO Summit Continue To Be Held Without Charge
(update 1 & 2 below)
Five activists raided and arrested in an apartment in Bridgeport on the south side of Chicago continue to be held without charge. They were arrested during the night around 1 am on May 17, along with four other activists who have since been released. Those four were also held without charge.
The National Lawyers Guild reports the activists were “taken to the Organized Crime Division of Chicago police department for 18 hours and then they were transported to Harrison/Kedzie (District 4).” After transportation the police released the four activists.
One of the activists released is a regular myFDL blogger, who blogs under the name “TarheelDem.” He left a comment this morning:
Note to friends here from TarheelDem. I was one of the persons arrested in an early morning police raid in the Bridgeport neighborhood early Thursday morning. I was release with no charges this morning (Friday). I am fine. There are still five or six in custody. (Tracking down where folks are held has been difficult for the NLG.) Calls to Rahm Emanuel’s official voicemail would be helpful. The folks at Occupy Chicago and NLG worked rapidly and effectively to ensure our release. The whole charge is transparently bogus and meant for the media to reduce turnout to the march on Sunday. The permitted march will be relatively safe, providing you leave fairly soon at the end of the march (unless you want to risk arrest yourself by intentionally staying). A large turnout is crucial. Everyone who can make it to Chicago should; a larger crowd makes the entire effort safer.
Another one of the people arrested in the raid and released is Darrin Annussek, an out-of-work social worker from Philadelphia who has been marching from city to city since November as part of “Occupy the Highway.” He was part of “Walkupy May Day” and walked all the way to Chicago to protest the NATO summit.
The person leasing the apartment, William Vassilakis, wholly condemned the raid, saying “I could not be more disgusted, enraged, terrified, by and generally totally disappointed with the city of Chicago.”
As of right now, those arrested have not been able to appear in bond court yet and their forty-eight hour right to bond comes up this evening.
The police have been extremely secretive about the raid. They would not confirm details yesterday.
“Truth is the police in the city have told us absolutely nothing,” says Kris Hermes, an NLG staff attorney. “We heard about the raid in the early morning hours on Thursday and had been trying for the entire day and afternoon of Thursday to figure out where these folks were being held. The police would not divulge this information. In fact, police at all levels – even the superintendent’s office – refused to acknowledge that they were even holding people and they refused to acknowledge that the house had been raided the previous night.”
That led many to rightfully say that the Chicago police had “disappeared” activists.
The NLG held a press conference at the Organized Crime Division on Thursday evening. They were able to meet with the nine arrestees and confirm that nine people were actually arrested. But, as of now, the NLG says they have not seen any evidence of criminal activity or criminal wrongdoing.
Local news reported a “police source” had recovered “Molotov cocktails.” There is no evidence of the existence or production of Molotov cocktails. The police did confiscate a home brew-making kit. And, Hermes says, if this is what they are using to allege Molotov cocktails were being made, “it’s pretty far-fetched and incredible.”
It is not really all that surprising. Outright lying about why police took preemptive action is standard. Michael Ratner and Margaret Ratner Kunstler detail in their book Hell No! Your Right to Dissent examples of this lying. The reason that activists with the RNC Welcoming Committee were arrested ahead of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, was because they made a video with “youths dressed in black, their faces covered with bandanas, tossing homemade firebombs. No matter that the video was a parody, with the cocktail being used to light a barbeque grill and the bolt cutters used to cut a hedge; the video was the rationale for sending infiltrators to launch investigations into the RNC Welcoming Committee and other protest groups.”
Police have even lied about materials to make it seem like protesters had Molotov cocktails. In 2000, ahead of planned protests against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, police chief Charles Ramsay raided a “workshop” and claimed it was being used for “manufacturing” Molotov cocktails and “homemade pepper spray” at the “activists’ Convergence Center.” The police “later admitted that no such workshop existed and what they had discovered was paint thinner used for art projects and peppers for cooking.” Therefore, previous raids on activists suggest that the home brewing kit is in fact the “Molotov cocktails.”
It has become routine to conduct preemptive raids ahead of National Special Security Events like the NATO summit, but that does not mean the operations of Chicago police are any more acceptable. Hermes states, “The Constitution still applies.” The police “do not have the right to break down your doors and search your apartment and your belongings without a warrant and without consent. That is still against the law.”
So far, there is no evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or other federal agencies were involved but it is possible. The apartment was a known place where activists were staying. In fact, it is believed that at least one of the activists who appears in this video of police intimidating protesters in Bridgeport on May 9 was staying in the apartment.
Further shows of force by police have been occurring, according to Hermes. Multiple houses where activists are staying have been swarmed by police cars and fire officials. Areas nearby the site of the preemptive raid are being overrun by police. The police have been making “routine visits” to homes in Bridgeport that appear to be raids. They continue “to terrorize people who have come to town to protest NATO.”
The local news reporters and journalists have been utter cowards. Because the police would not admit the police carried out a raid, the media refused to “confirm” the story. They instead ran stories that communicated lawyers or protesters were alleging. The cowardice makes the disappearing of activists even worse.
Why would the media think protesters would make up the fact that nine people were missing?
It appears the paradigm of preemptive policing is not all that different from preemptive war. The Chicago Police Department’s refusal to admit there had been a raid is similar to how NATO might not admit civilians were killed in an air strike or kidnapped in a night raid. In those instances, the media also hesitates to report on the story because they do not have official confirmation of the abusive and likely criminal conduct being carried out.
For all the worries about protesters descending upon Chicago to create violence, it certainly seems like the people of Chicago should be more worried about NATO occupying Chicago. NATO is being used as a pretext to suppress dissent and go after activists. The police squads are more likely to violate someone than a protester raising his or her fist in the air while wearing a mask. In fact, that person wearing that mask just might be a police officer, federal agent, or some kind of hired agent provocateur.
Here’s a post from Shortwave America showing where the federal government has a lot of the security command centers setup.
And here’s We Are Change blowing the cover of undercover cops in Chicago:
Yana Kunichoff of Truthout.org has a good update posted that includes a statement from Occupy Chicago on the raid:
“Occupy Chicago demands the immediate release of the peaceful protesters terrorized by the Chicago Police Department in Wednesday nights raid,” said Rachael Perrotta of the Occupy Chicago Press Committee in a statement. “We are getting a taste here in Chicago of what it’s like to live in a militarized police state, with non-violent demonstrators targeted for expressing their First Amendment Rights and for standing up against the NATO war machine.”