Journalist suppression & intimidation in Chicago over the weekend

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Tens of thousands of activists stormed Chicago to protest against war and inequality while the city hosts an annual NATO convention. Today is day two of the summit and demonstrations after at least 45 people were arrested during peaceful marches and rallies over the weekend. While some are applauding the Chicago Police Department’s professionalism in dealing with protestors – others are pointing to repeated law enforcement abuses against citizen journalists and heavy-handed crown control tactics.

Several journalists were arrested in Chicago over the weekend with little justification, and others were intimidated, detained, and interrogated without any probably cause. For today – demonstrators plan to march to Boeing’s headquarters in downtown Chicago to protest against the defense company’s role in our ongoing wars abroad. Keep an eye on this.

Thom Hartmann Administrator's picture
Thom Hartmann A...
Dec. 29, 2009 10:59 am


Based on everything I saw and read, Thom is wrong in saying that tens of thousands of activitists came to Chicago. The estimate is that the number who were gathered in Grant Park on Sunday and then marched to Michigan and Cermak was about 2200. The highest estimate was 4000, but the police who need to have a good idea of how many people are involved in a protest and who have some experience in crowd estimates said that it was around 2000. Let's not exaggerate or misinform. A journalist who was at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grand Park noted that the number of people who were there seemed smaller than at some other, musical events that have taken place there. The reporters on T.V. said that the estimated number of people at the protests and at the Sunday march was less than many anticipated and was also less than at other such international conferences, such as in Pittsburgh. I don't know how many came to Seattle in 1999 for the WTO conference, but that event had much more conflict between protesters and the police, and much more police violence. I hadn't heard of arrests of journalists, so that might very likely be a legimate violation on the part of the police. All in all, the official number of arrests of protesters seem to be 45. Several police were injured, one with a concussion. The most controversial story was the arrest of several men, including some who were staying at an apartment in Bridgeport (a South Side neighborhood) for alledgedly planning on making Molotov cocktails or in one case a pipe bomb, and targeting certain politically sensitive locations, such as Rahm Emanual's home. It was reported that no actual evidence of bomb-making materials or bombs were actually found, although some of the men may have agreed to try and buy such materials from undercover officers. A defensive attorney said something about entrapment.

From what I could determine, while the vast majority of the protesters were peaceful, there were some situations where a small number of them seemingly provoked the police, but those incidents were limited. At the end of a ceremony on Michigan and 22nd St., the protesters were technically supposed to disperse as their permit expired at 4 pm. A number of people remained at the location. According to one report I read, some wanted to move east toward McCormick Place, the site of the summit, which was off limits. Some participants threw sticks and other objects and police, and that resulted the use of billy clubs and arrests. Those who threw obects were believed to be members of the Black Bloc who wore masks and were dressed in black. For about 2 hours or so, the police slowly pushed the remaining group of protesters west on Cermak toward State St., away from the convention center. An unknown number of protestors were injured. Some people were taken to nearby Mercy Hospital. Others refused treatment. Eventually, the protesters dispersed. Another group formed on Michigan Ave. across from the Art Institute. They went north toward the police station where the arrested protesters had been jailed. On the way, there was another minor skirmish.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

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