ST(A)ND OUR GROUND
As this is written, we watch our Canadian comrades taking the streets once again in a nude march. Once again, our brothers and sisters from other nations are setting the example for the rest of the world to fight back, indefinitely, with infinite love and solidarity for one another.
There have been roughly 2600 arrests so far due to the massive demonstrations in Canada combined with the intense police repression. On Wednesday night, June 6th, there were 12 here at home.
It should be extremely obvious to the vast majority of us, that we have entered a new level of police and state repression - what may accurately be called ‘the criminalization of dissent’. This has always been the law of the land, and we were reminded of this when the international Occupy movement began, seeing peaceful demonstrators brutally arrested. Just one month ago, right before the May Day demonstrations, five anarchists were arrested in an FBI-led sting operation for allegedly attempting to blow up a bridge in Cleveland, Ohio. They were victims of entrapment, of course, thanks to a paid FBI informant.
Then the pre-NATO raids happened, where even more were unnecessarily and ‘pre-emptively’ arrested, facing very similar charges to those which the Cleveland 5 are facing. Charges relating to terrorism, conspiracy, and explosives, to name a few. Citizen journalists and Livestreamers have been targeted as well.
NATO happened, and we were witnesses to the extremes the police will go to to have their way. They blocked us from marching, and many times we broke through police lines without a problem except harassment by the CPD. Finally, it came time to march to McCormick Place where the war criminals were meeting. “MOVE!” They yelled at us, and surely we stood our ground. Someone on our side shouted, “All shields to the front!” At this time we tried our best to protect ourselves and our comrades, and we were met with violent ferocity by the CPD.
They targeted people’s heads and stomachs mostly. One of our friends were struck so hard in the stomach by a billy club that they vomited. There was a lot of blood on so many young people who had done nothing wrong, and many were arrested.
This past Wednesday, we saw something else.
Coming in to the meeting point, near a student center at State St and Harrison, one could hear the beautiful disorderly music of clanging pots and pans. Almost everyone there was wearing patches of red square-shaped felt on their chest, showing solidarity with striking students in Canada (chosen to signify that we are all ‘in the red’).
Several prepared individuals were handing out these red cloth squares to participants, and others were passing around literature explaining the crisis in Canada to passersby and demonstrators alike. For about an hour, attendees clanged their pots and sang loudly, dancing in the sidewalk, and making a beautiful scene as numbers grew.
After an hour or so, a speaker sporting a megaphone rose to a city pedestal and addressed the revolutionary crowd, speaking to the importance of international revolutionary solidarity, as well as connecting the issues in Canada to that of the United States and Chicago.
Finally, the time came to march. And god damn it, we marched! Taking the streets whenever we could, regardless of the harassment from the Chicago Police Department - many officers of which were seen regularly pushing and shoving demonstrators without cause, including Officer Hansen (#18076).
Aside from the unnecessary antagonism brought from the CPD, the march was entirely peaceful. Demonstrators took the streets without a problem with traffic or pedestrians, until they got to the infamous Mag Mile.
Once marching on Michigan, the police proceeded to harass. They sounded their sirens, and attempted to intimidate us by driving up with their vehicles, usually attempting to obstruct our path.
At one point, a demonstrator was shoved by an officer so harshly (Officer #18076, Hansen) that he fell to the ground and was promptly attacked, along with others. This demonstrator suffered being kneed in the abdomen as he was told to “Stop resisting arrest.”
So he was arrested, and at that moment was when they struck. 11 others were promptly apprehended, the majority of whom were on the sidewalk. This arrested individual, from an eyewitness account, claims that, “While I was in the paddywaggon, I saw people on my right-hand side [where protesters were] I saw people being beaten on the sidewalk, and horses storming in.”
Never before have we seen this level of police repression. Where demonstrators have been indiscriminately beaten as they were on a sidewalk, where police on horseback have blocked the sidewalks.
And for what? For standing up. For fighting for everyone’s human rights. For having fun, for demonstrating, for showing international solidarity. Photographers were also targeted. One female, one male.
The male gentleman was on his way to a pool party at the InterContinental. He did not even know of the demonstration, just happened to be in the area, and being a photographer decided it would be a good idea to take some documentative pictures.
He was promptly arrested. His film was confiscated. And now the police have (coincidentally…) no record of it, as is the same with the female arrested.
Once in jail, another officer (Matoska) told prisoners that he hadn’t had a chance to use his new gun yet. They told him that ‘joke’ wasn’t funny, and he responded by saying that, “It would be if you were running.”
Demonstrators and by-standers saw something remarkable on Wednesday. A new level of police and state repression. Occupy Chicago had always marched in the streets, and the police had to a certain extent always been fine with hundreds or thousands taking the streets (look at November 17th, 2000 took the streets at an un-permitted march).
But on Wednesday, June 6th, protesters were constantly harassed by the CPD until the point where the CPD as a whole decided to strike and arrest as many targeted individuals as they could and beating as many as they could, indiscriminately, even as they were on the sidewalk.
And let us not forget the “off-duty” officer (police officers will testify to the claim that they are never off duty) who wore a t-shirt depicting how they went to the anti-NATO demonstrations early to ‘beat the crowd’.
As a result of the police aggression and their slimy tactics, one man attending the solidarity demonstration was arrested and now faces felony charges for allegedly throwing a frying pan at an officer. According to eyewitness accounts, this is a ridiculously trumped up charge. While in jail, Gary Wagaman was confronted by police where they proceeded to ask him if he was holding a pot or pan during the march. The majority attending were obviously holding pots or pans to make noise and music with, and now Gary faces charges of aggravated battery to a ‘peace officer’ - with bail set at $50,000 .
This is a new level, and the precedent is set. We must keep on marching in the streets, because they are ours. We must continue to organize, and to be defiant. We must express solidarity with revolutionaries in other nations, because the struggle is international. As we finish writing this, we have learned of the raids on the homes of organizational ‘leaders’ in Canada.
We will march with them. We will fight, not simply for ourselves, but with our comrades, at homes and in other countries - because we are not entirely ignorant. Because we understand that everything is connected. And so we ourselves set a precedent. To continue to resist. And to continue to fight. Because there is no better time than now.
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