Chicago: Ferguson Protesters Face Vicious Repression by Police and Court

November 27, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

During a November 26 protest in Chicago against the Ferguson grand jury decision, Grant Newburger and two other revolutionaries stepped into the street carrying a banner saying "Justice for Mike Brown." Grant is a front-line fighter in the struggle against police brutality and the criminalization of a generation. They were set upon by the pigs, who brutalized and arrested them. Grant, who was knocked to the ground from behind by masked police and suffered head and other injuries, was charged with aggravated battery against a police officer, a felony. Another revolutionary, who had her arms jerked behind her, was charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. A third revolutionary was charged with obstructing traffic, also a misdemeanor.

Grant is well-known and respected among the people because of his role in the fight against police brutality and in various other struggles in the movement for revolution—and because of this, he is also well-known and hated by the police and authorities. So he was clearly being targeted in this police attack. The Chicago Tribune then ran an article on the charges against Grant that included not only a photo of him but what they said was the specific street and block where he lives—this, in a polarized situation where there is a major upsurge of protest and resistance on one hand, and intensified state official repression as well as reactionary activity and rants by white supremacists and fascistic forces on the other.

The next day, on Thanksgiving, about 20 people showed up on only hours notice to support Grant at the Cook County Criminal Court for a bond hearing.

As soon as we walked in the court's lobby, you felt the racism, fear of and contempt for the masses of the court system. The lobby was full of Black and Latino people on this Thanksgiving afternoon. When we told security we came for Grant's hearing, they started yelling that they wouldn't let all of us in, that only "two people per prisoner" were allowed in the court, the court was too crowded blah blah blah. We held our ground and got in—the whole "two people" thing was bullshit and there was lots of room.

In the courtroom, almost immediately the judge started yelling at us and Grant's attorney to keep quiet. She read the charge against and asked one of the cops what happened. When the pig lied that Grant had pushed him on his bike, a murmur of dissent went up from the crowd, and the judge went ballistic: "If you disrupt, I will have you evicted and charged with contempt." When a young woman laughed, she yelled at her and told the cops to eject her from the court. When a man next to her objected, she told them to evict him too and threatened them both with contempt. She threatened again, "If I hear one word of protest, I'll ask the sheriff to arrest you." And then, in a comment that I thought spoke volumes about the real meaning of Thanksgiving in Amerikkka, she said, "I'm trying to process all of you and get you to where you can give thanks."

Twice in the hearing, the judge asked cops if there had been any injuries to them. They said no. It means that legally, the aggravated battery charge against Grant, which requires injury, is bullshit, and should be dropped.

Grant got what is called an "I bond" and was released on his own recognizance. To be clear: Grant faces a serious felony charge, and there needs to be a fight to demand that this bogus charge, and all the charges against the Ferguson protesters, in Chicago and around the country, be dropped.

As we gathered outside, we felt it was clearly very important that people had come to court to support this revolutionary. Otherwise, Grant would not likely have been released so quickly and with an I bond. Various supporters spoke to how it was clear Grant, for decades a leader in the struggle to stop police brutality, was being targeted by the Chicago Police. In August, after returning to Chicago after taking part in the protests in Ferguson after the police murder of Michael Brown, Grant was arrested at a protest against the Chicago police murder of Roshad McIntosh. The police commander said at the time to Grant, "Why are you stirring up the savages?" and "We aren't having any Ferguson in Chicago." One supporter remembered how Grant was targeted and brutalized by police going back to the 1990s. Someone from Stop Mass Incarceration Network commented how this was part of the larger assault on protesters across the country in the wake of the Ferguson grand jury refusal to indict Darren Wilson, including more than 200 arrested in LA and 400 nationwide. And that like the larger struggle for justice for Mike Brown, the struggle around the Chicago Ferguson protesters is far from over.

People made plans to protest the next day, "Black Lives Matter" Friday, at 10 a.m. at Water Tower, at the busy Michigan Ave. shopping area in Chicago.


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