Court rules Chicago’s park curfew ordinance is constitutional

Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Circuit Court Finding of Unconstitutionality in the Occupy Chicago Cases

As protests against police misconduct and racial injustice sweep the nation, a panel of the Illinois Appellate Court Tuesday, December 23, 2014 upheld one of the largest mass arrests in the city’s history.
Occupy Chicago protesters, represented by pro bono attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild of Chicago (NLG), People’s Law Office (PLO), and Durkin & Roberts had won an earlier lower court decision dismissing their 2011 arrests as an unconstitutional violation of their First Amendment rights.  The case, City of Chicago v. Tieg Alexander, et al., 1-12-2858, dates back to October of 2011, when approximately 300 activists associated with Occupy Chicago were arrested on two consecutive Saturdays in Grant Park.
Ninety-two of the arrestees challenged their arrests and were victorious in the Circuit Court, which struck down the ordinance used to arrest them.  Today a panel of the Illinois Appellate Court overturned that decision, in a rollback of First Amendment rights.
“The policing in these cases illustrates Rahm Emanuel’s shameful corporate agenda, designed to elevate corporate interests and erode the rights of everyday people,” said Sarah Gelsomino, attorney with the People’s Law Office and National Lawyers Guild.  “It’s outrageous that the City continues to waste our money on prosecuting activists for a petty curfew violation.”
NLG attorney Molly Armour stated:  “Today’s decision strikes a blow to protest movements at the very moment we see how essential they are to the national dialogue and to affecting fundamental social justice.  As lower court recognized — public spaces should be reserved for the People and the moments in our history where dissent is essential.”
“The National Lawyers Guild will continue to demand protections for those who challenge injustice,” Gelsomino says.  “The fight to protect freedoms of speech and assembly is vital, especially now as protests against racist and oppressive policing sweep the country.”
The NLG continues to support people’s movements in the streets with its Legal Observer™ Program and in the courts defending those arrested.  While disappointed in the ruling, the NLG remains steadfast in its commitment to the fights for social, economic, and racial justice.
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.

 

*** Appellate Court Opinion ***
        Illinois Appellate Decision – December 23, 2014
*** Documents from Occupy Chicago Appeal ***
        City of Chicago’s Appeal Brief – May 8, 2013
        Occupy Chicago Response Brief – September 30, 2013
        City of Chicago’s Reply Brief – December 12, 2013
*** Documents from Trial Level Court ***
        Decision Ruling in Favor of Occupy Chicago – September 27, 2012
        Occupy Chicago Reply to City – February 10, 2012
        Original Occupy Chicago Motion to Dismiss – November 4, 2011

NLG Stands with People of Ferguson

NLG Stands with People of Ferguson, Condemns Systematic Police Violence in Communities of Color
 
FERGUSON, Mo. — The NLG joins the people of Ferguson in expressing disheartenment at the grand jury decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. The rampant impunity with which police murder innocent people of color, as well as the heavily militarized response to protests in Ferguson, are symptoms of a larger system of racial injustice that has criminalized and oppressed people of color since the country’s founding. In just the last week, police have shot and killed two other unarmed African-Americans – Akai Gurley, 28, “accidentally” gunned down in his Brooklyn stairwell; and Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy holding a BB gun near a Cleveland playground. As Ferguson and the rest of the nation rallies to demand an end to this state sanctioned violence, the NLG will be working to support and uphold the First Amendment rights of protesters.

The NLG helped establish the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee (FLDC). The FLDC is coordinating legal support for arrestees with support from Guild members from New York, Chicago, Detroit, and elsewhere. NLG Legal Observers will be monitoring police activity in Ferguson and solidarity demonstrations nationwide to ensure that the rights of protesters are respected.

These extrajudicial killings are bolstered by the rhetoric from mainstream media that criminalizes peaceful protesters, especially people of color, while repeatedly failing to challenge the motives and actions of police officers and other officials in positions of power. Guild Legal Worker Vice President Kris Hermes, who has been working on the ground in Ferguson, explains that the media’s profitable sensationalism “serves as a cover to use violent repression against protesters,” while the “grand jury system was manipulated to exonerate Wilson.” Given Gov. Jay Nixon’s preemptive “state of emergency,” deployment of the National Guard, and FAA “no-fly zone” declarations, the government’s intent to squash dissent in Ferguson is clear.

As Ferguson protesters emphasized in an open letter, their struggle speaks to a much larger tradition of racial oppression, of which police brutality is just one part:

“This fight for the dignity of our people, for the importance of our lives, for the protection of our children, is one that did not begin Michael’s murder and will not end with this announcement. The ‘system’ you have told us to rely on has kept us on the margins of society […] This system you have admonished us to believe in has consistently, unfailingly, and unabashedly let us down and kicked us out, time and time again.”

The NLG calls on lawyers, law students, and legal workers of conscience to contribute their legal knowledge to defending the people of Ferguson. Volunteers who are ready, willing, and able to contribute to these efforts in Ferguson may sign up here.

The NLG is accepting donations for its efforts in Ferguson and elsewhere.

Chicago Legal Observers in Ferguson

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Our NLG Chicago Legal Observer Program volunteers are in Ferguson, supporting demonstrators and monitoring police. We have been working in cooperation with attorneys in Missouri on a Mass Defense of those persecuted by this insane system that has befallen the citizens of Ferguson .

We need your help. $10, $20, $100 will ensure that “boots on the ground” are there to ensure civil rights for the people that have had enough! DONATE HERE NOW!

More photos of our Legal Observers in Ferguson:

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Jeff LOing in Ferguson 8-18-2014

 

Chicago Legal Observer Training on 7/31/14

The National Lawyers Guild of Chicago Legal Observer Program cordially invites you to participate in our training to become a Legal Observer on July 31st, 2014. Legal Observers are volunteers who attend progressive political protests and actions in order to monitor, document, and hopefully deter police and government misconduct. In Chicago, Legal Observers (“LOs”) have supported the movements against public school and mental health clinic closures, environmental movements, Occupy Chicago, the protests against NATO in 2012, and many, many more. More information on the national program can be found here. If you are interested in becoming an LO and lending your eyes and ears to the support of Chicago’s activists, please register to attend and join us.

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Multi-Kulti, 1000 N Milwaukee Ave, 4th floor
All attendees must please register here: http://bit.ly/ChiLO
This interactive LO training is Chicago specific and includes information on Illinois and Chicago specific laws and law enforcement strategies. We will discuss strategies for effective legal observing, including as preparation for subsequent criminal and civil cases. All LOs who volunteer in Chicago must receive this training. If you were not trained as an LO in 2013 or 2014, you must attend this training or a future training in order to be added to the list of active volunteers.
PLEASE NOTE: We are now training LOs who are not already involved in legal work. All LOs work under the supervision of a National Lawyers Guild affiliated attorney, and all notes or other information from events is privileged and confidential. Many more details about the role of Legal Observers can be found in the NLG Legal Observer Handbook.
You can contact us at this email address (chicago.lo.program@gmail.com) with any questions. If you cannot attend on July 31st but would like to be informed of future trainings, please let us know that.
Please share this invitation with others who may be interested!

Legal Observers at IYJL Action

On Tuesday, May 14, Chicago NLG Legal Observers were present at an Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL) action at the Broadview Detention Facility in Broadview, Illinois to protest the record high deportations under President Obama and inaction from Illinois elected officials. A group of seven undocumented immigrants from Illinois conducted a sit-in to block the entrance to the Detention Facility.

For more information on the action and the IYJL, visit:
http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=00dcbd39570969a013c8e903c&id=0350ee98a0
http://www.iyjl.org/

Cops Target Guild Legal Observers in Phoenix

The Guild Defends Your Right to Resist!

“At protests from D.C. to Miami to Los Angeles to Philadelphia to Saint Paul, Guild Legal Observers have been arrested, shot with projectiles, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, and hit with batons, and we are still here to document misconduct.” —Carol Sobel, Co-Chair, Guild Mass Defense Committee

“Arresting a young woman of color who is there as an attorney-observer demonstrates how irresponsible and un-American the Arizona action is. I fear Arizona is starting to act like Mississippi in the civil rights days.” —Bill Quigley, Legal Director, Center for Constitutional Rights

National Lawyers Guild statement on arrests in Phoenix of Roxana Orell and Sunita Patel here!

Center for Constitutional rights statement here!