Trial Approaches for Noche Diaz and Six Other Revolutionaries Illegitimately Arrested at Puerto Rican People's Parade



In 2018 at the Puerto Rican People's Parade, more than a dozen police vamped on Revolution Club members in their T-shirts, grabbing as many as they could, including Noche Diaz, who was on the bullhorn. Some were brutally thrown to the ground with several police piled on top. Altogether, seven were arrested and hauled off to jail. These defendants have now been dragged through court proceeding after court proceeding for over a year on completely bogus charges. Noche is facing misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, resisting/obstructing and a violation of the sound ordinance. The other six are charged with obstructing/resisting. None of them did anything illegal. They were TALKING to people!

The authorities clearly did not want a revolutionary message to reach and challenge people who have borne the brunt of U.S. colonization and the utterly inhumane treatment of the island’s people in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The anger and outrage this stoked were still below the surface in 2018 but have since erupted into massive struggles rocking the island as the people took to the streets and forced the governor from office.

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria had landed a catastrophic hit on Puerto Rico, an island nation of over three million people.

Dozens died as a direct result of the storm. But in the days, weeks, and months after the storm, thousands more would die, hundreds of thousands would endure great suffering, and the entire economic, educational, and social infrastructure of Puerto Rico would be severely and permanently degraded. Almost all of that was completely un-necessary; it was the result of deliberate, genocidal inaction by the U.S. government and its refusal to organize a serious rescue and recovery effort for Puerto Rico.

This was the situation when the Revolution Club of Chicago went out to the 2018 Puerto Rican People's Parade and Festival which draws thousands each year. The club set up at a corner where they could maximize their interaction with people streaming by. They were met with an unjust mass arrest by the Chicago Police Department.

The Revolution Club was displaying the “5 Stops” panels and a special display about Puerto Rico, and the criminal (non) response of the U.S. government. Overhead was a banner calling for revolution. For more than two hours the club was reaching out to the crowds—exposing U.S. imperialism in Puerto Rico historically and today, its crimes in countries like Yemen where a school bus full of children was hit with U.S. bombs dropped by its ally, the Saudis; of children being ripped away from their parents on the southern border with Mexico; the murderous role of the police in enforcing this system of oppression. Through it all, the message rang out: This system cannot be reformed, it must be overthrown. Literature about how a revolution was possible was handed out and people were being signed up to get with the revolution.

After being out at the parade/festival site for about two hours, there was a pre-meditated assault on the Revolution Club crew who were TALKING to people going to the parade! There was no prior warning. The police rolled up over 12 deep, led by a high-ranking deputy chief. One would have to ask why he was there. The deputy chief personally later claimed that Noche used the bullhorn to “incite violence” against the police. And he determined this how? After a minute or two? The video shows that what Noche actually said was that the police constantly arrest the Revolution Club for no legitimate reason (TRUE) and he exposed their general role as enforcers for a brutal system of oppression (TRUE). This does not meet by any stretch ANY legal definition of inciting violence. The very fact that the deputy chief described it that way is both serious and reveals the real political nature of this arrest and prosecution.

The police, led by their deputy chief, stopped what was clearly First Amendment activity for political reasons and then made up criminal charges to justify the arrests.

This arrest was one of 14 incidents of CPD arresting and ticketing members of the Revolution Club. But that is not all. There were another 13 incidents of almost arrests. Why did the latter stay “almost” arrests? Because there was a lawyer present who intervened to prevent the arrests, thus highlighting the other arrests should never have happened.

The pretext in this case was a “sound ordinance” violation. In light of the overall past pattern of arrests and this case in particular, the ACLU wrote a substantial four-page memo to the Revolution Club advising them of their rights. The memo’s conclusion reads, “The Revolution Club and its members have a First Amendment right to attend permitted events in public forums, including the Puerto Rican People's Parade. At such events, you have a First Amendment right to communicate your message to others who are present in the forum, and police may not make you leave the area or limit your speech based on your message, the words you use to communicate your message, or your membership in the Revolution Club…. With respect to the sound amplification ordinance in particular, you are, in our opinion exempt from enforcement because you are participating in a permitted event.” [Editors’ note: In this case the parade and festival are considered permitted events.]

On August 14, all the defendants will appear in court with a legal team put together in anticipation of the case going to trial. At this hearing, the legal team is preparing to press for the discovery that a judge granted in a pretrial motion but which the state has not complied with to date.

Word of this illegitimate arrest and prosecution has to be spread and people rallied to defend the Revolution Club members who are facing these charges. The state is very afraid of this revolutionary force growing so they try to attack and suppress it. This has to boomerang on them by more people coming forward to be part of and learn more about the revolution and by broad strata, whether they agree with revolution or not, taking the right side in this fight to not let the state silence and jail people fighting for a better world.

People should call the office of the Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx (the recently elected “reformer”) and demand that these charges be dropped: (312) 603-8600.

Noche Diaz

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