Police Repression Escalates Ahead of Mass Protests in Chicago

The Chicago Police Department raided a home where activists were staying late Wednesday night and detained a group of them, alleging that they had equipment used to produce molotov cocktails. Activists and lawyers allege that the police held protesters for 17 hours before acknowledging that they arrested them.

The raid came before a weekend of planned protests against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Cold War-era group of nations from North America and Europe. NATO is set to hold their annual summit in Chicago over the weekend.

The National Lawyers Guild released a statement yesterday on the police department raid:

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns a preemptive police raid that took place at approximately 11:30pm Wednesday in the Bridgeport neighborhood, and instances of harassment on the street, in which Chicago police are unlawfully detaining, searching, and questioning NATO protesters. The Bridgeport raid was apparently conducted by the Organized Crime Division of the Chicago Police Department and resulted in as many as 8 arrests.

According to witnesses in Bridgeport, police broke down a door to access a 6-unit apartment building near 32nd & Morgan Streets without a search warrant. Police entered an apartment with guns drawn and tackled one of the tenants to the floor in his kitchen. Two tenants were handcuffed for more than 2 hours in their living room while police searched their apartment and a neighboring unit, repeatedly calling one of the tenants a "Commie faggot." A search warrant produced 4 hours after police broke into the apartment was missing a judge's signature, according to witnesses. Among items seized by police in the Bridgeport raid were beer-making supplies and at least one cell phone.

"Preemptive raids like this are a hallmark of National Special Security Events," said Sarah Gelsomino with the NLG and the People's Law Office. "The Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies should be aware that this behavior will not be tolerated and will result in real consequences for the city."

The Chicago Tribune reports that four of those arrested have been released without being charged.

The raid and arrests across the city have not deterred the protesters gathering in Chicago, though. This weekend, protests, counter-summits, occupations and more are planned to challenge NATO’s agenda. Demonstrations will also greet the Group of 8 summit at Camp David.

Meanwhile, a mass march led by National Nurses United kicked off with a rally of thousands at the Daley Center Plaza in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times:

Clad in red shirts and scrubs and green Robin Hood caps with feathers, nurses and other protesters marched across downtown to the Daley Center for the rally organized by National Nurses United, the nation’s largest nurses union, who were joined by members of the Occupy movement, unions and veterans.

Demonstrators, bused in from across the nation for the event, chanted. “Hey, Wall Street, heads up, the people won’t give up” and sang “Taxing Wall Street” to the tune of “Dancing in the Street.”

The main demand of the protesters is for a new tax on Wall Street. National Nurses United explains that they’re calling for a “Robin Hood tax, a small levy of 50 cents or less on $100 of trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives and other financial instruments that could raise up to $350 billion every year in revenue.”

AlterNet / By Alex Kane

Posted at May 18, 2012, 9:54am

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