Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
For Immediate Release: December 23, 2014
Contact: People’s Law Office & NLG Attorney Sarah Gelsomino 773-520-8246
NLG Attorney Molly Armour 773-746-4849
Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Circuit Court Finding of Unconstitutionality in the Occupy Chicago Cases
Court rules Chicago’s park curfew ordinance is constitutional
As protests against police misconduct and racial injustice sweep the nation, a panel of the Illinois Appellate Court Tuesday, December 23, 2014 upheld one of the largest mass arrests in the city’s history.
Occupy Chicago protesters, represented by pro bono attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild of Chicago (NLG), People’s Law Office (PLO), and Durkin & Roberts had won an earlier lower court decision dismissing their 2011 arrests as an unconstitutional violation of their First Amendment rights. The case, City of Chicago v. Tieg Alexander, et al., 1-12-2858, dates back to October of 2011, when approximately 300 activists associated with Occupy Chicago were arrested on two consecutive Saturdays in Grant Park.
Ninety-two of the arrestees challenged their arrests and were victorious in the Circuit Court, which struck down the ordinance used to arrest them. Today a panel of the Illinois Appellate Court overturned that decision, in a rollback of First Amendment rights.
“The policing in these cases illustrates Rahm Emanuel’s shameful corporate agenda, designed to elevate corporate interests and erode the rights of everyday people,” said Sarah Gelsomino, attorney with the People’s Law Office and National Lawyers Guild. “It’s outrageous that the City continues to waste our money on prosecuting activists for a petty curfew violation.”
NLG attorney Molly Armour stated: “Today’s decision strikes a blow to protest movements at the very moment we see how essential they are to the national dialogue and to affecting fundamental social justice. As lower court recognized — public spaces should be reserved for the People and the moments in our history where dissent is essential.”
“The National Lawyers Guild will continue to demand protections for those who challenge injustice,” Gelsomino says. “The fight to protect freedoms of speech and assembly is vital, especially now as protests against racist and oppressive policing sweep the country.”
The NLG continues to support people’s movements in the streets with its Legal Observer™ Program and in the courts defending those arrested. While disappointed in the ruling, the NLG remains steadfast in its commitment to the fights for social, economic, and racial justice.
The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
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WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.