[Occupy Chicago demonstrates outside 190 N. State Street on May 17, 2012.]
National Lawyers Guild Condemns Preemptive Police Raids & Unlawful Searches on the Streets.
“The Chicago Police Department has basically disappeared as many as eight activists,” said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the National Lawyers Guild, adding “There’s absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing.”
Hermes declined to release the names of those detained. He said the NLG had been speaking with police leaders throughout the day Thursday, and that they denied anyone was being held.
Witnesses who alleged they were detained at the scene before being released said police broke down doors in an apartment building near 32nd and Morgan Streets at 11 p.m., and searched the units while refusing to show the occupants a search warrant, said Sarah Gelsomino, an attorney with the lawyers guild.
The National Lawyers Guild issued the following press release in response to the police raids, and searches of protesters in the streets during the NATO summit:
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns a preemptive police raid that took place at approximately 11:30pm Wednesday in the Bridgeport neighborhood, and instances of harassment on the street, in which Chicago police are unlawfully detaining, searching, and questioning NATO protesters. The Bridgeport raid was apparently conducted by the Organized Crime Division of the Chicago Police Department and resulted in as many as 8 arrests.
According to witnesses in Bridgeport, police broke down a door to access a 6-unit apartment building near 32nd & Morgan Streets without a search warrant. Police entered an apartment with guns drawn and tackled one of the tenants to the floor in his kitchen. Two tenants were handcuffed for more than 2 hours in their living room while police searched their apartment and a neighboring unit, repeatedly calling one of the tenants a "Commie faggot." A search warrant produced 4 hours after police broke into the apartment was missing a judge's signature, according to witnesses. Among items seized by police in the Bridgeport raid were beer-making supplies and at least one cell phone.
"Preemptive raids like this are a hallmark of National Special Security Events," said Sarah Gelsomino with the NLG and the People's Law Office. "The Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies should be aware that this behavior will not be tolerated and will result in real consequences for the city."
In another incident, 3 plainclothes police officers unlawfully stopped, handcuffed, and searched a NATO protester on Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive at approximately 2pm today. According to the protester, he did not consent to a search and there was no probable cause to detain him. The police also photographed and questioned him about where he was from, how he got to Chicago, how long it took, what he was doing here, where he was staying, who he was with, and how long he was planning to say in Chicago. The protester refused to answer any questions and was eventually released.
The NLG has received reports that at least 20 people have been arrested so far this week, and two people are still in custody, not including the Bridgeport residents who are still unaccounted for. One of the protesters currently being detained, Danny Johnson of Los Angeles, has been accused of assaulting a police officer during an immigrant rights rally on Tuesday afternoon. However, multiple witnesses on the scene, including an NLG Legal Observer, recorded a version of events that contradict the accusations of police.
During the week of NATO demonstrations, the NLG is staffing a legal office and answering calls from activists on the streets and in jail. The NLG will also be dispatching scores of Legal Observers to record police misconduct and representing arrestees in the event the city pursues criminal prosecutions.
Contact: NLG Legal Worker Kris Hermes 510-681-6361 or NLG Attorney Sarah Gelsomino 773-520-8246
Demonstrators took to the streets again Thursday evening in response to what they say were police raids on those who had traveled to Chicago for the NATO protests.
The group OccupyChicago says it is disgusted by the way some of their allies were treated. They say police busted their way through the doors to several apartments in a building near 32nd and Morgan.
The National Lawyers Guild says nine people were arrested as police sought out anti-NATO activists.
The group also says police showed residents a document they said was a search warrant but that the paperwork was never signed by a judge.
“In the United States we should be protected under the Constitution from unlawful search and seizure,” the Guild’s Kris Hermes said. “It’s not OK that police come in, break down a door without a warrant, arrest people and take them away and not indicate where they’re being held.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said an “inquiry” was under way into the claims.
Here the protesters march Thursday on Chicago's north side: