National Lawyers Guild Condemns Continuing Police Brutality Against Protesters, Refutes Claims of Restraint
Laudatory City Council resolution comes as police brutally arrest 12 people demonstrating in solidarity with Quebec students
Chicago, IL — The Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns the brutal arrest last night of 12 people demonstrating in solidarity with the months-long student strike currently underway in Quebec, Canada. Chicago police indiscriminately used batons last night, injuring several protesters and breaking one person’s finger. Eleven people were charged with either reckless conduct or resisting arrest, and one protester who was charged with a felony is still in jail on a $50,000 bond. The NLG notes that police crowd control tactics have been especially repressive and violent over the past few weeks.
“Once again, the Chicago police are relying on brute force to quell political protests,” said Sarah Gelsomino, with the People’s Law Office and the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, whose attorneys will be representing the arrested protesters. “Contrary to claims of police restraint being made by certain public officials, the CPD is showing a lack of control in an effort to stop political demonstrations.”
Last night’s arrests come as the Chicago City Council passed a resolution Wednesday congratulating the police on a job well done during the NATO summit. However, the resolution stands in stark contrast to claims by the NLG that the police were exceptionally violent against protesters. While the number of people charged during the week of NATO demonstrations were fewer than a hundred, the police brutalized nearly the same number of people, mostly with baton blows, many of which resulted in head injuries. The NLG has so far received reports of more than 80 separate instances of police brutality in reaction to the NATO demonstrations.
The NLG also accuses the police of massive displays of force during the NATO summit, discouraging would-be protesters from coming out to demonstrate during a national political event. Activists claimed to be terrorized by police who swarmed several houses in the city where protesters were known to be staying; numerous people were questioned by the police and FBI as to their political beliefs; and several people were targeted and picked off of the street by multiple gun-wielding police officers.
“The police deliberately created a climate of fear that began long before the NATO summit, and which lasted throughout the week of political protests,” said Kris Hermes of the NLG. “The city also used sensational terrorism-related charges levied against 5 young men to undermine the protests, discredit the Occupy movement, and create hysteria in order to drive a wedge between the public and political activists in Chicago.”
The so-called NATO 3 — the most seriously charged protesters from the NATO summit — are due to be indicted on Tuesday, June 12th at the Cook County Courthouse at 26th & California. Despite the sensational accusations made against the three young men almost a month ago, the state’s attorney has still provided no evidence of criminal activity, not even the search warrant used to raid the Bridgeport house where the arrests occurred, and has not yet brought any formal charges against them. The city has also failed to disclose any information on at least two infiltrators used in what appears to have been a months-long investigation into Occupy Chicago in advance of the NATO demonstrations.