Chicago Indymedia :
Chicago Indymedia

LOCAL News :: Civil & Human Rights

UPDATE: Last Gay Pride Arrestee Released Tonight

The last of the three people arrested on Sunday after a dust-up with anti-gay bigots was released from Cook County Jail tonight.
The last of the three people arrested on Sunday after a dust-up with anti-gay bigots was released from Cook County Jail tonight. Neal Rysdahl reportedly had bruises on his face and body after sustaining at least two beatings at the hands of police after his arrest on Sunday.

Anarchist activists and their supporters raised $7,000 in two days to win the release of the arrestees. Supporters were making arrangements to get Rysdahl medical attention for his injuries after his release. Another arrestee reported that Rysdahl was experiencing chest pains and dizziness in jail yesterday after his last beating.

An earlier story on the incident follows below:

Gay Pride Parade Marred by Anti-Gay Attacks, Arrests of Gay Rights Activists

By Chris Geovanis. Dorina Prisacaru contributed to this report.

Three people were arrested in the wake of a dust-up between anti-gay protesters and gay and gay-supportive activists at Chicago's 35th annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade on June 28. The arrestees were among a contingent of anti-corporate and anti-capitalist gay and gay friendly people who had gathered near the beginning of the march, coincidentally across the street from where anti-gay bigots had also gathered to harass parade participants and attendees.

According to eyewitnesses, shouting broke out between the two groups, and anti-gay protesters physically assaulted several of the pro-gay anti-capitalist contingent at around 12:15 PM near the beginning of the parade at Clark and Halsted. Police reportedly then escorted the anti-gays further down the parade route, and allowed them to stand on the street side of barricades, but behind police officers.

Shortly afterword, police reportedly moved in to make arrests among the gay-positive activists after someone tossed a partially full plastic Gatoraide bottle, which struck the ground near police. No arrests were made among the anti-gay protesters, who later doubled back to stand near the end of the pride march and continue to harass marchers and viewers.

The three arrestees -- 17-year-old Robert Bernstein, 19-year-old Jeremy Hammond, and 51-year-old Neal Rysdahl -- were charged with resisting arrest and aggravated battery to a police officer, both felonies, and misdemeanor reckless conduct. Hammond and Bernstein each face $20,000 bonds, and Rysdahl's bond has been set at $30,000. The 10% bond fee for Bernstein and Hammond had been posted at press time, and their supporters were awaiting their release. Supporters were still scrambling to raise the $3,000 needed to win Rysdahl's freedom. The three are being held at Cook County Jail at 26th and California.

Members of the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network expressed outrage that gay rights activists were targeted, harassed and arrested by police, rather than bigots who’d gathered to bully gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people on a day that celebrates the GLBT Community.

"We find this invasion by Fred Phelps-type activists just as offensive as if a Klan or Nazi group had burst into the Bud Billiken Day parade," said Bob Schwartz of the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, a witness to the incident. Chicago’s Bud Billiken parade is held annually in the Black community to celebrate African American pride and heritage. "We find it outrageous that Chicago police would arrest those who protested this invasion, rather than the invaders themselves."

The contingent that included the arrestees marched in the parade with CABN and Equal Marriage Now, which is advocating for marriage rights for GLBT people. One participant, who asked not to be named, expressed surprise that police would use a splash of Gatoraide as a pretext for arrest and felony assault charges. “People were using water guns throughout the day along the parade route and among spectators,” he said. “What’s the big deal about a few drops of Gatoraide?”

"These three activists should be applauded for standing up to bigots," said attorney Melinda Power, who represented the arrestees at a Monday bail bond hearing. Power also questioned the validity of police charges against the three. "What is telling in this case is that the police did not seek medical attention, yet they are charging battery. There must be a misunderstanding. The police should reflect on the situation and review the charges."

Several sources reported that right-wing congressional candidate Anthony Lopez-Cisneros had originally worked to leverage marching space in the parade for the anti-gay bigots, and that the bigots said they "were with Cisneros" when talking to parade organizers and police prior to the dust-up.

Hundreds of thousands of people attended Sunday’s parade, which is one of the annual social highlights of the GLBT community. Chicago’s first Pride Parade was held in 1970 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, when patrons at New York City’s Stonewall Inn fought back against police who had raided the nightspot in one of the cops’ routine attacks on gay spaces in the city. That rebellion is credited with helping to spark a national civil rights movement on behalf of GLBT people.



Account Login

Media Centers


This site made manifest by dadaIMC software