Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
For Immediate Release: November 7, 2011
National Lawyers Guild Begins Defending Occupy Chicago Arrestees in Court
Motion to dismiss based on First Amendment filed today, delaying outcome of cases
Chicago, IL — Attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild this week began defending people arrested for politically protesting in Grant Park. Approximately 175 people were arrested in the early in the morning hours of October 15th as police converged on the park, seeking to enforce a city-imposed 11pm-6am curfew. The following week, on October 22nd, another 130 people were similarly arrested. In both cases, the city has applied the same municipal, quasi-criminal charge for violating the park curfew to all of the more than 300 people arrested.
Two defendants, Michael Hartge and Dominique Reid, were the first to have their cases heard today in Municipal Court. The Guild filed a motion to dismiss based on a violation of the defendants’ First Amendment rights. The city asked for a month to respond, at which point a hearing date will be set, likely early next year. The Guild is offering to file motions to dismiss on behalf of any Occupy Chicago defendants who choose to challenge their charges.
On Wednesday, five more Occupy Chicago defendants will have hearings. Four cases will be heard at 9am at Cook County Criminal Court, 155 W. 51st Street. The remaining hundreds of defendants will also have first appearances over the coming weeks.
“We stand in solidarity with the Occupy Chicago and the Occupy Wall Street movement,” said Sarah Gelsomino, a Guild attorney with the People’s Law Office in Chicago. Gelsomino is also one of the Guild attorneys defending Occupy Chicago activists in court. “It’s an outrage that the city is not only spending precious tax-payer dollars to prosecute frivolous cases, it’s also unwilling to give an inch to accommodate the free speech rights of Occupy Chicago activists.”
A group of Guild attorneys met with Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton and other city representatives on October 27th to discuss dismissing the charges and finding a permanent location for Occupy Chicago. However, the city refused to drop any of the charges or to grant Occupy Chicago an ongoing presence in any of the city’s public parks.
The Guild is supporting the Occupy movement in dozens of other cities across the country through its Legal Observer ™ program and by defending hundreds of people who have been arrested. The Guild has also mounted successful civil actions in several cities to protect the rights of Occupy protesters.
The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
NLG motion to dismiss: http://nlgchicago.org/occupy-chicago/motion-to-dismiss
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