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Occupy Chicago Declares Victory After All Charges From Encampment Attempts Are Dropped
Cook County Judge Thomas Donnelly has dismissed all charges relating to Occupy Chicago's attempts at taking an encampment last October. On October 15 and 23, thousands of occupiers marched from Jackson and LaSalle to Congress Plaza to erect an encampment in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. The encampments were meant to be a place where people could live, build community and organize in our fight against the corporate abuse of democracy. The protest was intended to build a round-the-clock presence at Grant Park. Over the course of the two attempts to create this community, 305 protesters would be arrested.
The arrests were made on the grounds of a rarely-used park curfew ordinance restricting access to Grant Park from 11pm to 6am. Occupy Chicago activists challenged this ordinance based upon the protection of the First Amendment which states:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
"We were arrested because we were doing something very threatening to the state, we were creating a peaceful social platform where the voices of the lower classes could be heard. We the challenged the system of capitalism simply by talking about and bringing economic inequality to the forefront of everyday conversation has been a tremendous achievement on our behalf," said Danielle Vilarreal, Occupier arrested on October 23.
Ninety two of those arrested have been collectively fighting back on first amendment grounds since February. Today we are happy to announce that all charges against Occupy Chicago activists have been dismissed on first amendment grounds. Read the judges ruling here: http://nlgchicago.org/blog/motdorder/
This ruling is another victory for Occupy Chicago in beating back Mayor Emmanuel's attacks on the first amendment rights of activists. "The whole city is getting tired of Rahm's abuse of power. This is what we saw with the immense community support for the teacher's strike. This what we saw back in January when we were able to mobilize the community against Rahm's "sit down, and shut up" ordinances. And this is what we see now with the charges being dismissed. Grant Park has a long history of being an open political forum in the city of Chicago and for Rahm to try to restrict political activity in this park with unconstitutional arrests, is not only an insult to the political history of Chicago, it also goes to prove that Rahm, not really being from Chicago, does not understand Chicago, and the rights of the people who live here," said Andy Manos Occupier arrested on October 23.
"The charges against Occupy Chicago members have been dropped, but the legal and ethical travesty that they represent should never be forgotten; the city administration and its corrupt courts have wasted how many tax dollars in this circus of injustice? And for what? What did hundreds of cops spend hundreds of overtime hours on the city's dime doing last October? They spent that time breaking their own laws and repressing the very essence of democracy, as the verdict in this case indicates. It was all a meaningless distraction meant to take away momentum from a political moment that represented something other than the trite and callous ethos so dominant in our troubled culture," said Mark Banks Occupier arrested on October 23rd.