Monday, February 13, 2012

Ninety Occupy Chicago Activists Go to Court Wednesday Seeking Dismissal of Charges

Occupy Chicago

Motions to dismiss the charges against at least 90 Occupy Chicago activists will be heard Wednesday at 1:30pm in Daley Center. The cases stem from arrests in October of more than 300 people who were charged with violating a city-imposed curfew at Grant Park. Nearly a third of those arrested have chosen to fight their charges based on First Amendment grounds. National Lawyers Guild will be arguing for dismissal on behalf of the Occupy Chicago defendants before Municipal Court Judge E. Kenneth Wright.

What:Court hearing to dismiss the charges against at least 90 Occupy Chicago defendants
When:Wednesday, February 15th at 1:30pm
Where:Room 1307 of the Daley Center, 50 W. Washington Street, Chicago

“It’s an outrage that the city is spending precious tax-payer dollars to prosecute frivolous cases, while being unwilling to give an inch to accommodate the free speech rights of Occupy Chicago activists,” said Sarah Gelsomino with the People’s Law Office, and one of the Guild attorneys who filed motions to dismiss on behalf of the defendants. The Guild has been defending Occupy Chicago activists since their arrest at Grant Park.

"This intolerance of political protest in Chicago casts serious doubts about the city's respect for and ability to uphold the rights of dissidents in advance of the NATO/G8 demonstrations," continued Gelsomino. "The needless arrest and prosecution of hundreds of Occupy Chicago activists sets a distressing precedent as thousands of people are expected to protest here in May." Just last week, the city settled an NLG-led class action lawsuit for $6.2 million, in which more than 700 anti-war protesters were wrongfully arrested in 2003.

Approximately 175 people were arrested on quasi-criminal charges in the early morning hours of October 15th as activists remained protesting in the park after 11pm. A week later, on October 22nd, another 130 people were similarly arrested. Not only did the city refuse to grant Occupy Chicago an ongoing presence in any of the city's public parks, it also has so far refused to dismiss any of the cases unless defendants agree to perform 10 hours of community service.

Of the 90 Occupy Chicago defendants who are seeking a dismissal of their charges, nearly half say they will go to trial if their motions to dismiss are denied. A ruling by Judge Wright is expected on Wednesday or shortly thereafter.

The Guild has also supported the Occupy Wall Street movement in dozens of other cities around the country through its Legal Observer™ program and by defending hundreds of people who have been arrested.

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

Further information:
Sample NLG motion to dismiss:

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