Update: Chris Drew Tells How His Free Speech Court Case Gave Him A Bigger Megaphone

[This is the latest post from Chris Drew, screen print artist who was arrested for selling his art patches . . . and then charged with a class 1 felony for having the audacity to make an audio recording of the police arresting him. ]

At our Screen Print Workshop for Artists a discussion erupted, as frequently happens, and a person said “…they charged you with a class 1 felony for audio-recording your own arrest and they took you out of action for two years from fighting for artists’ rights while you’ve been fighting their felony charges…”
“No they didn’t!” I maintained. “They gave me a megaphone to trumpet artists’ rights and that is what I have been doing ever since. They tried to distract us but it blew up in their face.


The T-shirt Art Harvest Fest is this coming weekend (Friday Sept. 30 – Sunday Oct. 2nd, 2011) and it is bigger than ever even as I am fighting health issues and we are fighting their intended legal distractions. The Ravenswood Art Walk (RAW) is at the same time and it is well promoted. Come meet the Native Artists exhibiting with the RAW on Saturday and Sunday. We have a map with our Fest on it for the Chicago Critical Mass on Friday and the weather looks to be great all weekend.

The Art Patch Project is the more proof that our voice for artists’ rights is steadily increasing even as they try to silence our movement with a felony charge and two years of legal interference. The Art Patch Project is now over 180 designs strong and growing. We are preparing exhibits in other cities. It still has just the tiny tip of its iceberg showing with its big history still to come when artists begin to flock to its call. See the latest designs and pick up new art-patches before they are all given away. Hint – you best come on Friday to get a good crack at the latest art patches. They are fast becoming collectors items.

YES – Free Music and art will rule at the American Indian Center Friday, September 30th through Sunday October 2nd at 1630 W. Wilson Avenue in Chicago. The Art Patch Project will distribute free art patches all weekend. SPEAKOUT on Saturday from 2-5 on the Illinois eavesdropping law. The public and people affected will be invited to speakout on the Illinois eavesdropping law with their statements to be video recorded and uploaded to Youtube to raise awareness of this important issue.

Volunteers are especially needed on Friday from 6-11pm when we expect the Chicago Critical Mass to arrive. We need help to watch bikes locked up outside the building. Help us make the Chicago Critical Mass welcome by volunteering to watch their bikes for us. Call 773-561-7676 if you can help for a few hours to make this event rock easy.


Several weeks ago Circuit Court Judge David Frankland said that Michael Allison had a First Amendment right to record the police officers and court employees and dismissed all the charges against him. Judge Frankland ruled the Illinois eavesdropping law is unconstitutional. Just before that the ACLU appeared in front of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals arguing for their federal lawsuit against Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and Anita Alvarez, to prevent her from enforcing the Illinois eavesdropping law against individuals who audio-record police in public.

Today this issue is a hot national issue while 22 months ago when I was first charged with eavesdropping on the police no one had heard about this law. We changed that! Distraction? I doubt it. By December we will be suing the City of Chicago over the constitutionality of the peddlers license just as was our initial intention. When our artists’ rights lawsuit is lodged it will gather the attention it deserves because of everything we have been through.

LATEST Nancy Bechtol Court Video – Judge later said I can’t argue the “exemption i”  defense to the jury.


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