From Revolution Club Chicago

Judge Slams Down the Rules in “Sacred Space”, Threatens Maya and Her Supporters with Jail

| Revolution Newspaper |


To remind readers. Maya from the Revolution Club, Chicago was arrested on March 1 by University of Chicago police after participating in 11 minutes of silence for 11 million undocumented immigrants facing deportation. This protest occurred inside the student center that is open to the public. It was part of a national day of protest organized by Refuse Fascism. The four protesters held up sheets of paper that said, “11 minutes of silence for 11 million undocumented immigrants” and stood in silence. The normal din at lunchtime turned to a hush for 11 minutes. When the protesters tried to exit, they were blocked by University police who grabbed Maya, dragged her down the stairs and charged HER with felony battery on the police officer, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

At Maya’s bond hearing, the court was filled with people being run through a meat-grinder, routine of getting bond. The place became very quiet when the State’s Attorney began talking about Maya’s case because this was anything but routine. The State’s Attorney read from what sounded like an FBI-type dossier. According to people who witnessed this, the State’s Attorney claimed that Maya had assaulted a police officer, was associated with “revcom,” informing the judge that revcom was the Revolutionary Communist Party. She brought out intimate details about Maya’s previous arrests and charges and her out of state address. All this to paint Maya as a dangerous person who should not be released.  Maya’s attorney objected, described the silent protest Maya was part of, pointed out that her previous cases were irrelevant and were dismissed. The judge released Maya on her own recognizance. Maya’s lawyers are trying to get copies of the paper the State’s Attorney read as part of their discovery in this case.

On Tuesday, June 12 there was a routine "status hearing” for Maya. A team stayed outside the main Cook County Criminal Court agitating about all the alarming attacks coming down on immigrants and calling for Maya’s charges to be dropped while 17 supporters went inside the courtroom. This included members of the Revolution Club (all wearing their “BA Speaks, Revolution Nothing Less!” t-shirts), people from Refuse Fascism and others. They sat and listened as case after case was called for the overwhelmingly Black and Latino defendants caught up in the criminal injustice system. As Maya’s case approached, three sheriffs came into the already crowded small courtroom with their eyes on Maya and her supporters.

When Maya’s case was finally called, all her supporters stood up. There was some very routine brief back-and-forth between the lawyers and judge about getting more discovery, and a date of July 19 was set for another status hearing. But then something very un-routine occurred, jarring not only Maya’s supporters but all the other people still waiting for their cases to be heard. The judge turned to Maya saying that the last time she was in court she had made a gesture when leaving that was unacceptable. The judge continued. She had put her fist in the air to her supporters as she re-entered the gallery where her supporters were seated.

The judge made clear that raising her fist was not simply unacceptable and a violation of the decorum in this “sacred space” but, he said, if it happened again, it would be grounds for revoking her bond and locking her up. When her lawyer questioned this, and whether it was even legal, the judge made clear that he was adding this as a restriction to her bond. Raise your fist, you go to jail, where Maya could languish until her case comes to trial.

Sacred space? What a sick joke.  As Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, the author of the book Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court, addresses in a 2016 New York Times op-ed, a report by a panel commissioned by the city of Chicago in the wake of the uproar surrounding the murder of Laquan McDonald, “racism in the city’s Police Department is rampant: Blacks are disproportionately subjected to traffic stops, Tasers and street stops that do not lead to arrest; they also account for an appalling 74 percent of the 404 people shot by the Chicago police between 2008 and 2015.

Van Cleve goes on, “What the report does not say, though—and what many Chicagoans themselves may not know—is that the rottenness is not confined to the Police Department. Racist practices extend far into the criminal courts, indeed they are the very foundation of the cases that enter into the court system. The hands of many judges and prosecutors are just as dirty as the bigots in blue.”  [our emphasis]

In response to this outrage, most of Maya’s supporters raised their fists as they left the courtroom with Maya. The judge then threatened Maya’s supporters with being jailed for contempt of court if this happened again. Contempt of court is a draconian power. No hearing, no trial, no jury, no due process.

In the days since Maya’s hearing the fault line around immigration attacks has opened even wider as outrage spreads in cities and towns over Trump’s vicious move of tearing 2,000 immigrant children from their parents' arms and jailing these children. Maya’s supporters are laying plans to blast this outrage in Maya’s case out widely via media and social media and counter this outrageous attack by rallying many more people to Maya’s support and into the revolution and to oppose the horrors being rained down on immigrants and drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime.

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On March 1, University of Chicago police brutally attacked and arrested Maya, a member of the Revolution Club Chicago, for participating in a SILENT protest in support of undocumented immigrants.


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