Chicago, IL – I almost got arrested this morning: why? I was sitting on the grass with a few members of Occupy Chicago, outside the court at 26th/Cali, drinking coffee, enjoying the shade, and watching the belongings of others that went inside the court room to show support for the NATO 3. Twelve police officers, CPD and sheriffs, approached and demanded we move away from our belongings and show them our IDs. They claimed we could be starting fires, since cigarettes tossed in the area had been smoldering in the dry grass, and asked us to move to the other side of the street. I asked why I needed to show my ID and they said because they asked for it. While one cop was running our IDs, I took a picture of the assembled police. Immediately I was surrounded by four of the sheriffs, in all black with no visible badges or names. One demanded that I show them the picture or video I took and delete it. I asked them why? He said delete the picture. I asked why again and he said that I have to delete the picture. I asked what his name was and why he had no badge number. He told me his name was Chad Miller, badge #6431, and then repeated his “request”. I then asked him if he needed a warrant to look at the contents of my phone, and he said he did not. He said that it is illegal to film police in the state of Illinois and repeated that he does not need a warrant. Both of these statements are false. One, the 4th amendment states I am protected against illegal search and seizure and two, the status of the IL eavesdropping law is in question, since an appeals court has put an injunction on enforcing the law for now, due to possible infringement on 1st amendment rights.
But, I caved. out of fear, or “live to fight another day”, or whatever. I caved. I justified it several ways, the arrest wouldn’t be strategic, there were no NLG around to observe, etc. but, regardless of why, in the end, I let his act of power intimidate me. I deleted the picture, showed him I didn’t take any videos, and he stepped away.
Yes, I feel upset and violated from the blatant lies and implied threat of force and harm this sheriff made, a person in a role that, according to what I’ve been taught my whole life, is synonymous with truth, bravery, and heroics.
And this is nothing compared to the intimidation and harassment the police do on a daily basis around the country, especially towards the poor and people of color. The very reason I was at the court house was to support the 5 activists that are facing very serious charges because the city and mayor need to prove they have the bigger dicks than a peaceful protest group, and have fabricated some felony charges to justify their huge expenses. We need to stop allowing fear to control us and stand together to change this world!