Stephen Lendman, Contributor
NATO arrives everywhere violently. Chicago was no exception. Residents were terrorized for days.
Many are still recovering. For some, it’s from hospital beds. Others are behind bars. Chicago cops upheld their odious reputation. The city is notorious for being America’s police repression capital.
On May 25, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Chicago chapter assessed days of police brutality. More on that below.
Former NLG leader Arthur Kinoy (1920 – 2003) spoke for like-minded activists, saying:
We, as lawyers, are fighting to keep the First Amendment alive in the legal arena. The people are fighting to keep the First Amendment alive in the streets, in their homes, in the factories, in the legislative halls, in the political arena.
Given today’s climate in America and other Western societies, the struggle is sorely tested. Police brutality during Chicago’s NATO summit highlighted a repeated problem nationwide.
On May 17, an NLG press release condemned a preemptive Bridgeport neighborhood raid. At least eight arrests were made. No one committed a crime.
Witnesses said cops burst into a six-unit apartment building violently with no search warrant. Doing so is illegal. They entered an apartment guns drawn.
One tenant was tackled in his kitchen. Two were handcuffed for two hours in their living room while police searched their apartment and a neighboring one.
A search warrant produced four hours later had no authorizing signature. Beer-making supplies and cell phones were seized.
Three youths were charged with possession of incendiary devices, material support for terrorism, and conspiracy to commit it.
Despite no evidence whatever proving it, allegations claimed planned use of Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs against police stations, financial institutions, Obama’s Chicago headquarter, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home. Other baseless accusations were made.
On May 22, the Chicago Tribune headlined “Lawyers for 3 charged in firebomb plot say solitary confinement in jail is ‘cruel and unusual,’ ” saying:
NLG attorney Michael Deutsch said they’re held on excessive $1.5 million bonds in “hospital-white” cells, 24 hours a day, and can’t communicate with anyone.
“They are totally in isolation from everyone else in the jail and each other,” he said. “They have nothing to read. They have no writing material. It’s a kind of sensory deprivation situation.”
The Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibits “excessive bail,” “excessive fines,” and “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Brian Church, Jared Chase, and Brent Betterly are victimized by all three.
A follow-up May 23 Tribune article headlined “Lawyers for 3 accused of NATO plot criticize jail isolation,” stated that Cook County Sheriff Department spokesman Frank Bilecki claimed the three youths were isolated to assess if they risk “harm (to) themselves or anyone else.” NLG attorneys denounced their isolation as “cruel and unusual.” They also affirmed their innocence.
On May 25, the NLG Chicago chapter headlined “National Lawyers Guild Provides Wrap-up of Police Actions During Week-long NATO Demonstrations,” saying that cops engaged in “harassment and violence.”
“(S)erious injuries, high-level charges, and exceptionally high bonds” followed.
NLG estimated 117 arrests. Less than 100 were charged. Most were for violating city ordinances, disorderly conduct, failure to disperse, trespassing, resisting arrest, and other misdemeanors.
Sixteen face felony accusations. Five are accused of terrorism-related activities.
Virtually everyone charged is innocent. Cops violated their rights, not the reverse.
Over 70 reports of police brutality were received. Most occurred during Sunday marches. Most injuries were from baton head and body blows. Over two dozen were hospitalized for broken bones, concussions, knocked out teeth, and open wounds requiring stitches.
According to NLG spokesperson Kris Hermes:
Although police allowed some unpermitted marches to take place without incident, there were massive shows of force by police throughout the week of NATO demonstrations and indiscriminate violence perpetrated against many protesters.
Contrary to rhetoric from Mayor Emanuel and Police Superintendent McCarthy, the city was anything but tolerant to political dissent.
Hundreds of Occupy Chicago participants have been targeted, harassed, arrested, and, at times, beaten for demanding rights they’ve been denied.
Protesters on city streets always face harsh police responses.
During NATO’s summit, activists’ homes and organizing spaces were violated without warrants. Chicago Independent Media Center and Wellington Avenue Church were targeted.
Numerous unconstitutional stops and searches were conducted.
On May 22, the first felony case was dismissed in Cook County court. On May 15, Danny Johnson was arrested at an immigration rally. He was charged with aggravated felony assault on a police officer. He was jailed for a week on $10,000 bond. According to NLG’s Hermes:
The dismissal of charges against (him) certainly raises questions about the veracity of claims against many other NATO protesters.”
A dozen or more remain in custody. Five are for terrorism-related charges. No evidence whatever proves them. Most court dates were scheduled from mid-to-late May.
Hearings for the so-called “NATO 5” will be on June 12 and 13.
During days of NATO protests, NLG lawyers were available round-the-clock if needed. Observers were deployed to document police misconduct.
NLG “is committed to provide legal representation for anyone arrested and facing charges.”
They’ll need all the help they can get. Innocence is no defense. NATO 5 activists face kangaroo court injustice. Guilty by accusation is policy.
Precedent shows if they’re exonerated they’ll likely be retried on new charges until convicted.
Police state justice doesn’t take no for an answer. Imperial America wants no challengers abroad or at home. The nation’s gulag is filled with those who try and many others illegally entrapped.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.