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The War, Civil Liberties, And LGBT People

On March 19th, members of the Gay Liberation Network (GLN) played a big role in helping organize opposition to the war and occupation by particpating in Chicago's protest on the second anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. By far the best coverage of the day's events can be found at Chicago Independent Media, at the following URL on their website.

Chicago police unilaterally shut down our GLN feeder march by threatening to arrest everyone for particpating in an "illegal" assemblage. A little later that day they arrested GLN's Andy Thayer and several others, including Pat Vogel, the mother of a soldier stationed in Iraq. Below is an appeal for support sent out by some of the arrestees. Please do what you can to help. This Sunday, Andy and Jeff Frank of the National Lawyers Guild will speak about the civil liberties implications of what happened at the March 19th protest and what we can do about it (see May 1st event listed on the calendar at the end of this email).

GLN is proud of our role in spearheading the anti-war message within the LGBT community shortly after 9/11, when it was especially unpopular to do so (see http://www.cabn.org/opposewar.html). Much of what we predicted back then has come to pass. Some $2.1 BILLION has been sucked out of Chicago taxpayers alone to pay for the war, while government social services for LGBT people and others face cutbacks. Every time you hear of an impending CTA cut or are told there isn't "enough" money for schools, think of the money spent on the war. Every time you hear of an LGBT non-profit going through yet another round of layoffs, think of the war.

Check out the many photos, videos and stories available at the Independent Media URL listed above, and be inspired to get involved! As the trial dates for the arrestees become available, we will publicize them and ask that you do your best to come out and attend the trials in solidarity with the defendants.

M19 Arrestees' Appeal for Support

Dear friend,

Saturday, March 19, we were arrested in Chicago for attempting to express our Constitutional right to assemble and oppose the United States' war on Iraq. Several of us were arrested for the "crime" of walking singly down a sidewalk with signs opposing the war. All of us are facing charges of disorderly conduct, and one also is facing charges of resisting arrest and allegedly violating the city's notorious permit ordinance.

The impact of the arrests go well beyond the relatively minor charges that we face. The City of Chicago has drawn "a line in the sand", attempting to dictate when and where messages it disapproves of can be expressed. What is the state of civil liberties in Chicago when people face the "choice" of risking arrest to express their views, or "legally" expressing those views in places where few can see or hear them? People should not have to brave intimidation by walls of police in riot gear, and threats of arrest, simply in order to express their First Amendment freedoms.

In discouraging protest, the charges against us have a significant political purpose. While protests alone will not stop the U.S. war on Iraq, they help fuel the slide in the President's polling numbers, and bolster the majority of U.S. citizens who oppose the occupation.

As with the anti-Vietnam War movement, ever larger numbers of people opposing the war enable increasingly effective actions against it. This is what those who support the war fear. This is why, from coast to coast, individuals attempting to express opposition to Bush now are routinely arrested merely for holding placards along the routes of Presidential motorcades, and at other carefully choreographed "public" events.

The city's attempt to shut down effective anti-war protests using "legal" means is a threat to the organizing efforts of everyone who disagrees with Mayor Daley. If successful against anti-war protesters, the city's permit ordinance can be used to ban protests by anti-gentrification organizers, anti-police brutality activists, and others disliked by the Daley regime.

The charges against us, and the potentially financially crippling penalties that might come with them, are an attempt to silence the progressive movement in Chicago. Planning huge layoffs of city workers, from teachers to CTA employees, ostensibly for budgetary reasons, the city nevertheless has gone to great expense in prosecuting us, assigning to the task a large number of its top legal people.

Please help us stand up to this repression. We intend to vigorously oppose these charges-- but we greatly need your help. Please make a contribution to our legal defense.

Checks can be made payable to the "8th Day Center for Justice." Please write "M19 Legal Defense", and mail them to CCAWR, 4404 N. Magnolia, Suite 420, Chicago, IL 60640. As an expression of our thanks, contributors of $50 or more will receive a complimentary DVD or VHS tape (please indicate which version you prefer) of the recent Labor Beat program about the March 19th protest.

Thank you!

Brad Lyttle

Malachi Ritscher

Andy Thayer

Pat Vogel


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