Trial Regarding Police Suppression of Press Conference on 2nd Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion
Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 24th, the Gay Liberation Network's Andy Thayer will face trial for charges arising out of the Chicago police shut down of a press conference that he and several other activists attempted to hold on the 2nd anniversary of U.S. invasion of Iraq, March 19, 2005.
Jury selection will begin at 9 am with opening statements expected in the afternoon in Judge Mark Ballard's courtroom on the 3rd floor of the new courthouse at 555 W. Harrison Street (near the "Clinton" Blue Line "el" stop), Chicago.
The purpose of the press conference was to denounce the City of Chicago's refusal to grant a permit for an anti-war march on March 19, 2005 on Michigan Avenue, the scene of the city's false arrest of 800+ protesters at the start of the U.S. war on Iraq two years earlier.
Since that mass arrest -- the largest in the city's history -- Michigan Avenue has become a symbol of the erosion of civil liberties in the City (for background see Sergio Barretto's series on each year's protests here. The arrests are currently the subject of a class action lawsuit against the police filed by the National Lawyers Guild -- (www.nlg.org).
Chicago police have repeatedly used the City's disorderly conduct ordinance to harass and arrest protesters and in a few cases, shut protests down. One of the more recent and notorious examples of this was the arrests of the "Tastey 7," six American Friends Service Committee activists and a National Lawyers Guild observer who were arrested while the six passed out counter-military recruiting flyers at this year's Taste of Chicago. Their trial is scheduled for November 13th.
Andy's trial on charges of Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest is expected to last through Thursday.
Many thanks to National Lawyers Guild attorneys Jeff Frank and Charlie Nissim-Sabat (www.nlg.org), who have donated countless hours to Andy's defense. Jeff and Charlie are also defending long time peace activist Brad Lyttle who was arrested on March 19, 2005 on Michigan Avenue for the "crime" of holding a protest sign. Brad's trial is scheduled for December 12. Many thanks also to the many people who contributed to Brad's and Andy's defense fund.
For a discussion of the constitutional issues at stake in our challenge of the disorderly conduct ordinance, go here.
For a Labor Beat video of my arrest and protest activities on March 19, 2005, go here, and scroll down to "Labor Beat: Chicago Protests The War at Home and The War Abroad - March 19, 2005."