Four to Fifteen Years For Recording Your Own Arrest? – Chris Drew

Chris Drew in the Chicago loop, with his portable screen printing apparatus and some of the art patches he has printed

Report On A Motion To Suppress —  Chris Drew

The outcome of this motion will determine if I go to trial on a 1st class felony, one step below attempted murder, 4-15 years in prison, for audio recording my own arrest for selling art for $1 on State Street in Chicago.

In his opening arguments the prosecutor began around 12:30pm by claiming that he should be allowed to bring in evidence from our Youtube video postings and my blog to prove I intended to be arrested for selling art in public. He had a huge digital TV standing ready. He contended somehow that if I intended to be arrested that this would allow the police to violate my real privacy rights to review the contents of my audio recorder without my permission.

If they arrest you for selling art on the train while you have a laptop in your possession, they are not allowed to search your files and e-mails on your laptop for incriminating evidence of other crimes without a search warrant from a judge.

My lawyer, Josh Kutnick, brought the arresting officer to the stand and questioned him. The prosecutor cross examined him. The objections flew back and forth from each in turn and the hearing dragged on. At 2:30 the judge called recess for lunch. During this portion of the hearing it came out that the prosecution not only had the two officers my lawyer wanted to question waiting in another room but three of the four female officers who ticketed me on November 13th. We have the answer from Anita Alvarez to the ACLU suit. The State is making every effort to apply the eavesdropping charge against me. Why does Anita Alvarez and the State hate art in public to this extent? Or is it they want to keep you from attaining your basic rights? It is your First Amendment right to use your cell phone to protect yourself with audio evidence that she is attacking.

Then Josh Kutnick took over. His stated the obvious. The State needs a warrant before searching the recorder or they must forfeited the evidence they found when they violated my privacy rights. He contradicted the points made by the prosecution. He summarized our case and tossed it up to the judge to decide by pointing out that there are unique and interesting aspects to this case to be considered seriously. The Judge smiled and agreed it was interesting and worthy of his study. He gave himself until November 22nd to rule and our hearing was over around 4:00 in the afternoon.

This is more about you than it is about me. It is about your rights. No one came to this hearing in my support. However, it is better that you are watching from the sidelines than not watching at all. Although my lawyer performed to an empty court room we will buy the transcript and post it for the world to read. This case has national implications and international interest.

What can you do? Forward this message or the link to my blog or to my facebook page  to your friends and tell them about this struggle for their rights. Stay tuned to hear what Judge Stanley Sacks decides on November 22nd. Prepare to attend my trial. That is when I will need your support. Talk with your state reps and senators about changing this eavesdropping law. Everyone should be able to use their cell phones to record what police say to them in public. Contact your US congressman and your senators about H.Con.Res.298 – the sense of Congress resolution that waits in committee for their support. Donate to the Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center which supports the Art Patch Project that helps to educate the public about First Amendment rights. We are the artists who are fighting for your rights. Help us. Thanks again if you have read this far for continuing to make yourself aware. Your voices are powerful.

[Click this link to get to Chris Drew’s blog and an extensive list of resources.  While many of us have watched carefully as the FBI has conducted its rapid strike raids across the country, this storm has also been brewing in Chicago for some time.  For any who may have doubted the significance of Chris’s concerns before, this is a wake up call.  — Lew Rosenbaum]


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