It is time to rise up Chicago and pack the courtroom for the upcoming trial for members of the Chicago Revolution Club. Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 9:00 a.m., the trial begins for three members of the Chicago Revolution Club who were arrested last summer. It will be held in Courtroom 303 at 555 W Harrison, Chicago, IL 60607. They are charged with “interfering with a police officer.” This is the most serious class of misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to one year in jail.
The case set for the trial stems from arrests on July 21, 2017, when the Revolution Club dared to a defy the Chicago Police Department’s 7th district’s unofficial martial law in a South Side neighborhood where the police had been running roughshod over people, particularly those who had stood with the Revolution Club by wearing the club’s T-shirt and carrying out its call to “blow the whistle on police brutality.”
Two of these three club members were arrested again in August for simply witnessing the police harass two men outside the Revolution Club’s Organizing Center. Due to this, they face a second charge of “interfering with a police officer.” In the second case, the police were so angry that club members dared to come out of their office to witness them harassing people, that they turned their ire on the club and arrested club members who refused to leave. There is a status hearing for this case which will be held concurrently.
Rise up Chicago. The case going to trial is a clear case of the police suppressing political speech they do not like, especially speech that calls out the police intimidation, harassment, and brutality against those on the bottom of this society. On the day of the arrest, Revolution Club members had been standing on the sidewalk during the hours that police had told community people that they could not be on out on the sidewalk between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. This is an informal martial law. When the first club member was arrested mid-morning, the police swooped in with 11 cars, using the pretext that she had taped a handwritten sign to a pole calling on people to stand with the community.
The two other club members were arrested close to noon just as the rally was set to begin. This time more than a dozen police cars roared up. The rally was well-advertised in the community. Former Black Panther and revolutionary communist, Joe Veale, was scheduled to speak at this rally. However, it did not take place due to the preemptive arrests.
It is time for Chicago to rise up and pack the courtroom. These arrests are a clear retaliation case to attack the content of the message from the Revolution Club. However, this is a violation of their first amendment rights and the right of the people to hear this message. Reportedly, at a press conference to protest these arrests, when speaking to Carl Dix, co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and a spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Commander said:
Alright, look, I am not going to let you intimidate me in this. You have to move yourself from in front of the station. We made lawful arrests today. In my opinion as District Commander, yes, these arrests were lawful, legal and within the law. This is not a police brutality situation at all. The 7th district works hard at fostering relationships within the community. I think what you are doing right now is totally antithesis to what’s going on in the streets.”
On the following day, the 7th District Commander was challenged by an attorney who told him that he could not simply suppress speech he did not like. He responded:
So I will do it legally, then! I will enforce every law I can find against this group.
The revolutionaries are being singled out to punish them and to send a message to the people that this (and worse) is what will happen to you if they dare to join with the Revolution and stand up to the police and the system they enforce. This arrest became a big social question in the community and beyond. Reportedly, a video of the revolutionaries being arrested, taken by a member of the community, was viewed by 92,000 people on Facebook.
Two other club members were also arrested on July 21st and charged with violating a sound ordinance. Their charges have been dismissed.
The fact that the state is pursuing these charges is very serious and should spark an outrage. The Revolution Club calls on all people of conscience to oppose this attack and to support the rights of the people in the neighborhood to peacefully assemble and the rights of the Revolution Club members to stand up to an informal martial law and conduct a rally to speak out against the police who have run amok on the South Side neighborhood without facing arrest. One woman suffered a cracked rib from her arrest and two of the three went to the hospital after release.
Please send letters, emails and call the State’s Attorney demanding that these charges be dropped. Correspondence should be sent to the attention of Kim Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney, 69 W. Washington, Suite 3200, Chicago IL 60602, by phone 312-603-1880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send copies to the Revolution Club at email@example.com and call the club at 312-804-9121. Additionally, donations can be taken, or sent, to the Revolution Club to help pay legal fees. They are asking Chicago residents to rise up and pack Courtroom 303 located at 555 W Harrison, Chicago 60607 at 9:00 a.m. this Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
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All Images Courtesy of The Revolutionary Club Chicago