In the early hours of October 16th and 23rd, over 300 peaceful protesters were arrested in Grant Park. They were charged with violating a Chicago Parks ordinance which designates that the park closes at 11 pm. For this violation, they were loaded into police wagons and kept overnight in a city jail — some not released until nightfall on the following day. Most were denied phone calls and food and at least two were denied access to necessary medicine.
These arrests were not in the interest of “public safety,” as the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office claim. These arrests were political. They demonstrate the mayor’s fear of dissent, his commitment to preserving the status quo and to limiting the First Amendment rights of all people to peaceably speak and assemble.
We are the 99%. We refuse, any longer, to accept the status quo. We refuse devastating cuts to libraries, schools, and public safety nets. We refuse to be the scapegoats for the financial crisis. We refuse to stand by while the poor and middle-class are kicked out of their homes, those peaceably assembled are thrown in jail, and fraudulent lenders walk free.[i] We refuse to attach ourselves to systems of government and finance we know to be corrupt and instead, choose to align ourselves with a vision for a better tomorrow.
We refuse to just pack up and go home. Our First Amendment rights do not end at 11 pm.
Support our demand that the city of Chicago drop the charges brought against those arrested in Grant Park and end its ridiculous campaign to limit free speech. Cuts of public services are imminent. Would continuing with these proceedings be the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars? The peaceful Occupy Chicago protest must be allowed to continue, free of harassment, as so many other cities have done forOccupy movements across the country and around the world. We demand a site where we can visibly and publicly voice our grievances 24/7.
Our First Amendment rights do not end at 11 pm.