On Saturday, August 12, 2017, volunteers from the NLG Chicago Legal Observer Program observed five violent arrests at SlutWalk Chicago 2017. Four people were released that day, but Lee Dewey was held for bond.
As reported on Lee’s fundraiser page, toward the end of the march, Chicago police officers on the scene arrested three organizers and placed them in a police wagon. The dozens of remaining participants, including Lee, were waiting on the sidewalk and demanding police release their friends. Suddenly, police moved in and Lee fell to the ground. Lee’s bicycle fell on top of them, and police piled on. While Lee was on the ground, a CPD officer stepped on Lee’s head and ground it into the pavement. Lee was then arrested, handcuffed, and taken to the 18th District Police Station.
As a result of their rough arrest, Lee sustained several injuries, including an open cut across their thigh. At the station, Lee alerted several police officers to their cut and asked for bandages so they could tend to themselves. Out of an abundance of caution and care for the safety of everyone, Lee informed those CPD officers that they were HIV+.
After Lee shared their HIV status, they were forcibly taken to Rush Hospital—despite the fact they did not consent to or desire such medical treatment. At the hospital, Lee was confronted by a CPD officer and a medical professional who demanded that Lee consent to have their blood taken. They told Lee that a CPD officer was claiming Lee bit their ankle and that there was video footage of the incident. Lee denied then and continues to deny they bit anyone, but felt coerced to give their consent to having their blood withdrawn because of their HIV+ status.
Lee was then falsely charged with Aggravated Battery on a Police Officer for allegedly biting a Chicago Police Officer and falsely charged with Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer for attempting to bite a Chicago Police Commander.
Lee was subjected to similar transphobic and hostile attitudes from Cook County Sheriff’s staff both before and during bond court the next day. In bond court, the prosecutor unnecessarily revealed Lee’s HIV+ status as a way to stigmatize Lee in front of the judge, the public, and on the court record. Lee was given a $100,000 bond that was clearly intended to keep Lee in Cook County Jail. Luckily, Chicago Community Bond Fund immediately posted the $10,000 needed to free Lee, and they were released within a few hours. SlutWalk Chicago, Trans Liberation Collective, and SWOP-Chicago organized the court support event on September 11, 2017.
Lee is facing a Class 2 felony aggravated battery charge. If Lee were to be wrongfully convicted of this charge, they could be sentenced to serve three to seven years in prison. Lee is being represented by Joey Mogul of People’s Law Office (http://peopleslawoffice.com/) and Sara Garber of Thedford Garber Law.
The charges against Lee and Gary are part of a longstanding and disturbing pattern in which queer, gender non-conforming, and transgender people and people with HIV/AIDS are presumptively and falsely framed as malicious and vindictive spreaders of disease. In fact, Lee’s attorney Joey Mogul co-authored an entire book about the criminalization of LGBT people along with co-authors Andrea Ritchie and Kay Whitlock. Queer (In)Justice documents how homophobic and transphobic prejudice pervades law enforcement practice and leads to public stigmatization and false charges, prosecution, and punishment.
Please support Lee by sharing or contributing to this fundraiser for their legal defense and medical expenses!