Court Hearing for Chris Drew on Valentines Day: Come Out To Support Drew and Free Speech Rights

posted by cdrew on January 30, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

Valentines Day Protest at my Court Hearing.

At long last we are moving rapidly toward a trial. It will still not come until late spring or early summer but it will be upon us swiftly. This next court date is our opportunity to begin to organize to make this trial for audio-recording my arrest for selling art for $1 into a national/international event that properly embarrasses the City of Chicago for violating its citizen’s rights. On February 14th we will have the oral arguments over our motion to dismiss my case based on First Amendment issues. This will be a very interesting discussion – well worth your attendance.

Art Patch art by Jenny Rotten from the Art Patch Project - http://www.art-teez.org/free-speech-movement/fs-art-patch-project-instructions.htmArt Patch art by Jenny Rotten from the Art Patch Project – http://www.art-teez.org/free-speech-movement/fs-art-patch-project-instructions.htm

We need all supporters who want to help to meet us at 26th and California on February 14th at 10:30am in front of room 602. Those who will be there should reply to this e-mail so we can plan. This will be a very quiet show of force. We will save the theatrics for the trial.

A little perspective is valuable. The State’s Attorney’s Office would like to frame this as simply a trial of a long haired troublemaker charged with violating the rights of a hard working policeman. It is not. It is about silencing the voice of an activist in Chicago with a long prison sentence.

In reality it is a trial about the First Amendment. I was arrested violating the peddlers license to test its constitutionality and to demonstrate our First Amendment right to sell art in public. This is a misdemeanor. The police knew I and my team of artists were on a mission to do this because we told them so. My arresting officer was the head of the Homeland Security detail responsible for the entire area around Macys in the Loop on State Street. You can be sure he was hand picked to do the job.

Why? Because three weeks earlier we had tried have me arrested and the police balked. That previous time I was ticketed and told I would be arrested then if I continued. We continued. A patty wagon shadowed me for an hour and a half awaiting instructions that day. Police in plain clothes and in uniforms observed our actions while communicating with each other and headquarters by radio during that entire time but never acted. Finally, we headed off for a late lunch to talk about our next attempt. You can not tell me the police did not know who we were and what we were up to. The day I was arrested it took about an hour before the arresting officer showed up. That is just enough time for us to be observed and for the police to put their pre-made plan into operation sending their senior officer to arrest me to make sure everything went smoothly.

Once I was cuffed in the jail waiting room and they discovered I had audio-recorded my arrest a three hour gap appeared before they decided just how to handle me. I was arrested at 1:30. The arresting officer heard my tape about an hour later after he was informed I had taped my arrest. Hours later at 4:00 a detective told me they had not decided yet what to charge me with. “If you are charged with a felony you will go to Cook County Jail in the morning and if the charge is a misdemeanor you will be set free tonight,” he told me.

This decision came down from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office not from the arresting officer. The decision was to use a portion of the eavesdropping law enacted by the State Legislature to punish gang members caught spying on the justice system at 26th and California with modified cell phones and pagers recording the internal conversations of judges, assistant state’s attorneys and policemen. Normally, if a person records the conversation they are having in Illinois without informing the another person to the conversation the penalty would be a class 4 felony, if it ever reached the stage of contention. A class 4 felony was not enough punishment for those who would exercise their First Amendment rights to challenge the status-quot in Chicago.

Even applying the class 4 felony to the act of recording a policeman in public who is arresting or interrogating you a is highly suspect act by a State’s Attorney in America today any where but Illinois and two other states. Thus, applying the obviously inappropriate charge of class 1 felony is an outrageous act of malicious prosecution. This charge was aimed at taking my First Amendment right to be a social critic away by intimidating and threatening me with up to 15 years in a state prison. It had nothing to do with me violating the arresting officers rights and the arresting officer didn’t even make the decision to prosecute, the State’s Attorney’s Office did. The only proof I need to offer to verify this is the logic of the story I have just told. Tell me without grinning that it is not true.

Artropolis – artist protest.

This is a call for all artists who want to Occupy Artropolis and protest the lack of open-air opportunities to survive by our art in Chicago. Artropolis is an annual event for artists to showcase their work at the Merchandise Mart. Booths cost three thousand dollars and above for three days exposure. Most artists can’t afford to attend. At the same time the laws of Chicago prevent us from surviving by selling art on the street and creating art scenes where people are used to seeing us promote our art.

So we will ask artists to show their art outside the Merchandise Mart along Wells Street during Artropolis. You may pass out your business cards and promote your websites to those attending Artropolis without the expensive fees artists are paying inside. At the same time we will be promoting changes that lead to an artist friendlier City of Chicago where artists are encouraged to survive by creating open-air art scenes to sell their art to the public. Reply to this email if interested in joining us.

Growth of Bill HR 3944 (to make it legal to audio record police) in the State Legislature

Bill HR 3944 is assigned to Judiciary 1 – Civil Law Committee for a hearing on Tuesday. To see committee members to be contacted regarding your views visit

http://www.ilga.gov/house/committees/members.asp?committeeID=895

E-mail or call the legislators on the committee at the link above to express your views before Tuesday.

Hearing Jan 31 2012 3:30PM Stratton Building Room D-1 Springfield, IL

The ACLU has provided a contact your legislators link below to make your view easy to express to your own legislators.

https://secure.aclu.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=4001

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