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Collateral Damage in the War on Protesters: Neighbors of the NATO3 Cuffed, Held at Gunpoint

In this exclusive, neighbors of activists accused of "terrorism" give their stories of aggressive, seemingly incompetent and extralegal harassment by the Chicago Police.

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The officer standing outside with Jimmy asked him about the activists downstairs. “I had nothing to do with them,” Jimmy said, “they moved in two weeks before. I work a lot, just see them when I leave, see them when I come back. They asked me why I didn’t call them about the neighbors. I shrugged – they found it suspicious that I hadn’t called them!

“The third officer came up to me and told me he had a hard time believing I wasn’t associated with the people downstairs. His quote exactly was that I had ‘hateful revolutionary things’ in my house. He asked me why I had so many red-colored things (Olli got similar accusations because he was wearing his red work uniform). They were commenting about the red color – I have red curtains and my brother’s an artist, so all his paintings are hanging up, and they found that very suspicious and were trying to say it was part of some kind of conspiracy.

“I was like what the hell, who are you people? All I could think about was McCarthyism, and all of a sudden it dawned on me that our police commissioner’s name is McCarthy. I was like poof,” he said, making a head-exploding gesture.

Back in Olli and Ben’s apartment, the officers were using their kitchen as a staging area for their raid of the activists’ apartment, where they said it sounded like everything – people and belongings – was being “thrown around.” Other officers were continuing to interrogate Ben and Olli.

“It definitely felt politically motivated,” Olli said. “They definitely had made these assumptions that we were something, and if they were able to determine that we were of some certain stripe of politics that people find repellent, then they would feel justified in what they were doing to us.

“I asked to see their warrant and they said, ‘Yeah we’ll show you a warrant when the lawyer gets here,’ in a really mocking way.”

“They acted like asking for a warrant and a lawyer was unreasonable because they hadn’t charged us with anything,” Ben said, “but they didn’t seem to realize that they had kidnapped us in our own home. We were handcuffed on the ground in our own living room.

“It was them harassing us, bullying us, mocking us, and trying to find anything they could hold over our heads. It worked alright because I felt like they could just take me to jail – if this was possible, how could that not be possible?

“They made fun of the way Olli smelled – they said, ‘We should throw you in a laundry machine.’ They said, ‘Do you want to leave here with pants on?’ Neither of us knew what that meant… Olli said, ‘I don’t know if that’s a threat or some kind of weird joke.’”

Unlike the activists, whose beer brewing equipment is being used as evidence of their alleged terrorism plot, Olli’s home brewing equipment was simply another butt of the officers’ jokes. “Why don’t you just buy Bud Light?” the officers asked him.

Upstairs the cops were almost done with Jimmy. They told him they would let him go if he opened up his phone for them and showed them all the pictures on it.

“I just got a new cell phone and I didn’t have to open it for them,” Jimmy said, “but I just wanted them out of my place, so I showed it to them. All the cops stood around me and it was like showing your friends photos. I went through each one and gave them descriptions of it: ‘Here’s a picture of me in a house with a mirrored ceiling, here’s a picture of me taking a shit, here’s a picture of my new tattoo – what’s that? That’s two slugs having sex!’ That was the most entertaining part of the night for me.”

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