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Police Fri Sep 20 2013
As you may recall from an earlier Mechanics post, on August 8th Chicago police officers violently cracked down on activists protesting the American Legislative Executive Council (ALEC) outside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago.
Those who witnessed the incident said they saw officers rush a group of protesters and aggressively arrest targeted individuals in the crowd. They said the attack came without warning and did not appear provoked. Six protesters were arrested and charged with various offenses.
All six appeared for court on September 16th. Police Commander Alfred Nagode, who was seen beating and berating protesters at the anti-ALEC demonstration, was listed as the complaining officer for the defendants. When Nagode did not show up for court, the cases were dropped.
Madeline Sullivan is an anti-ALEC activist and member of Occupy Chicago who was apprehended during the protest and charged with resisting arrest. She says she did not resist at the time of her arrest and repeatedly verbalized this to officers during the incident. She live streams protests and suspects she was targeted for arrest because she moved forward when police started shoving people, to catch their misconduct on camera, and called for others to do the same.
Sullivan believes Nagode neglected to show up for court because he "would not have been able to prove the legitimacy of the arrests."
Beyond that, if Nagode had appeared for court, Sullivan thinks the National Lawyers Guild would likely have presented evidence of the violent police attack on peaceful protesters, which could have resulted in more problems for the Chicago Police Department down the line if civil suits were filed against them.
David Orlikoff, a member of Occupy Chicago arrested for no apparent reason as he walked away from the protest on August 8th, was not surprised Nagode did not show up, saying, "It's pretty rare to see a commander in court." He thinks Nagode was listed as the complainant in all cases because he was planning to drop the charges. "If they were pressing forward, they would have assigned beat cops to the hearing," he explains.
Commander Nagode could not be reached for comment on the matter.
Of the 1,000 plus Occupy related arrests since the movement began in Chicago, more than 90 percent of those cases have been thrown out or dropped due to police misconduct, Orlikoff informs.
He reckons police know these arrests do not go anywhere and their goal is not to get everyone they arrest to sentencing. Rather, it is a method of intimidating, disrupting, and repressing activists and political movements.
Sullivan says this ordeal opened her eyes to how the system tries to break people. "The cops would treat anyone in there (jail) like they were nothing. You had a number, and that's who you were."
For the past month and a half, Sullivan and Orlikoff have been unable to get back on the street to participate in protests or regular organizing activities out of fear they would be targeted by the same police again.
Orlikoff admits he was even afraid to go to City Hall to get parking stickers with this case hanging over him. "If I can be arrested just walking west on Monroe sidewalk, " he says, "I could be arrested doing nothing anywhere else."
As he sees it, the problem is that police face no serious consequences for their misconduct. "When they break the law, all they have to do is not show up to court to move on with their lives," he explains, "while the people they attack are presumed guilty and punished by the system until they can get the case thrown out, if they can get it thrown out."