September, 1, 2014 marks Labor Day in the United States, and it also marks the debut of the 100th episode of Chicago Independent Television, the monthly TV program of Chicago Indymedia. The 100th episode debuts at 11PM on September 1, 2014 on CAN TV Chicago cable channel 19, with subsequent broadcasts on Free Speech TV on both national satellite networks (Dish Network channel 9415, DirecTV channel 375).
Since its debut in January 2004, Chicago Independent Television has sought to offer a tangible alternative to mainstream corporate media pabulum, Chicago Independent Television is a video version of Chicago Indymedia — a venue for uncovered and undercovered Chicago-area events, expressions, and social movements, particularly those focusing on positive social change. In recent years, Chicago Indymedia has partnered with Chicago MultiKulti to continue and expand the work of Chicago Independent Television.
On February 10, the influential Chicago Tribune published a lengthy and extraordinary editorial embracing police spying, entrapment and law enforcement tactics grounded in the billy club and the agent provocateur. The paper's beef? A jury had found three defendants innocent days earlier of bogus state terrorism charges in the NATO 3 case. The defendants' ‘crime’ -- assembling four primitive Molotov cocktails on the eve of protests to oppose the May 2012 gathering of NATO officials in Chicago -- was wholly initiated, incited and put into motion by two undercover cops, whose bosses admitted they colluded with federal authorities to create the case.
The Tribune's op ed was stripped, for all intents and purposes, from States’ Attorney Anita Alvarez’ vitriolic defense of her political prosecution of the NATO 3. Dozens of respected activists and groups came together to rebut the Tribune’s endorsement of state-sponsored spying, entrapment and the use of undercover police agent provocateurs to wage war on dissent -- a response that the Tribune has refused to publish. Instead, that full response is published here.
After 20 months in jail, three NATO defendants -- Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly -- finally go to trial in the coming days on trumped-up, politically motivated accusations and a ‘crime’ wholly created and instigated by undercover cops engaged in police entrapment. In the run-up to the May 2012 NATO meeting in Chicago, officials militarized the city and clamped down on the freedom to protest. A linchpin in officials' justification of that state repression was the arrest and demonization of the NATO defendants, just days before the biggest purveyors of violence in the world -- NATO officials -- gathered in the Windy City. Opening arguments reportedly scheduled now for January 21. Read more...
From the newswire - The blog of the website Privacy SOS featured a blogpost headlined "Is Facebook going to let cops block you from posting about protests?", with a particular focus on the Chicago police. Quoting from the post:
"Independent journalist Kenneth Lipp attended the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference [the week of October 24, 2013] in [Philadelphia]. Among the disturbing things he learned there is that Facebook is apparently teaming up with the Chicago Police Department to block people from posting to the social media website. More disturbing still is that this was disclosed in the context of a panel on law enforcement's response to "mass gatherings spurred by social media.""
In a victory for free speech, activism, and education rights, an Illinois appellate court supported the free speech rights of a Chicago professor after her university tried to slander her using an Illinois law intended to shield citizens from powerful interests.
Loretta Capeheart, a professor of justice studies at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), defended two NEIU students who were arrested for antiwar organizing on campus. Capeheart was singled out for her activism, and was sued by NEIU officials using the Illinois Citizens Participation Act (ICPA). The ICPA was intended to protect citizens from being sued by powerful interests to force their silence, but NEIU sued Capeheart claiming the ICPA as its defense, thus threatening the very core of the law.
On September 16, 2013, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District, sided with Capeheart, affirming her right to free speech and absolving her of court fees approaching $80,000. Activists in Illinois can likewise claim a win, since a defeat would have set a chilling precedent against grassroots political activism. Read press release | Read court ruling
Previous Chicago Indymedia coverage: From The Trenches radio interview with Loretta Capeheart | Ozzie Guillen, Free Speech, and the Case of Loretta Capeheart
On the evening of Friday, August 16th, the years'-long effort to save the La Casita library at Whittier Elementary School in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood took a turn for the worse. With no advance notice, Chicago Public Schools authorities brought demolition equipment and a demolition order to destroy the library. Parents and community members staged an emergency blockade, which forced crews to depart for the night. Library supporters maintained the blockade overnight.
But on the morning of Saturday, August 17th, CPS and demolition crews returned, flanked by Chicago police. A bulldozer eluded the blockade by destroying part of the surrounding fence away from defenders, opening a direct path to the library. Defenders stormed the facility once the fence was broken, but all of the defenders present at the time -- about a dozen in all -- were placed under arrest while a bulldozer destroyed the library, to the heartbreaking screams of onlookers.
Despite the destruction, the community immediately vowed to redouble their efforts. Jail solidarity efforts were organized for those arrested in La Casita's defense, all of whom were released. Community members staged a vigil to mourn the destroyed fieldhouse, and called for a new center to replace La Casita. City officials claim that the demolition "had to happen" despite eyebrow-raising circumstances like an apparently invalid demolition permit and the sidestepping of standard procedure.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "brings together major U.S. corporations and right-wing legislators to craft and vote on 'model' bills behind closed doors. It has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in promoting 'stand your ground' gun laws, voter suppression bills, union-busting policies and other controversial legislation. Although billing itself as a 'nonpartisan public-private partnership,' ALEC is actually a national network of state politicians and powerful corporations principally concerned with increasing corporate profits without public scrutiny." [via]
ALEC will hold its 40th anniversary conference in Chicago on August 8, which an assortment of activist and civil society groups have vowed to protest. Indeed, activists have already staged a direct-action lockdown of the hotel hosting the conference. See video.
More information: ALEC Exposed | ALEC Watch | ALEC ties reveal extensive lobbying behind U.S. gun laws | The United States of ALEC | Corporate exodus continues from ALEC as secretive right-wing group's policies come to light
Newer articles: Chicago Muckrakers: How big is ALEC's footprint in Illinois? | Bill Moyers: An Exposed ALEC Faces Mass Protest | Gapers Block: Why Did Chicago Police Attack ALEC Protesters? | Think Progress: How A Powerful Group Of Corporations Quietly Tried To Roll Back Clean Energy Standards, And Failed Miserably
Truthout broke the story that an undercover police officer posing as a street medic has infiltrated Chicago activist efforts and protest events, including the anti-NATO actions of 2012 and recent actions against Chicago public school closings.
Quoting from the article: "On March 27, Chicago teachers and their supporters - including parents, students and community residents - rallied against the largest mass public school closure in US history. News of the mobilization sparked huge public interest before the demonstration - including from an undercover police officer calling himself 'Danny Edwards.'
'Danny' - who admitted to us on May 6 that he is, in fact, a Chicago police officer - could have saved himself the trouble and his department the expense. After all, organizers had already coordinated directly with top [Chicago Police] brass about their plans for the next day and widely promoted their intent to stage nonviolent civil disobedience.
His latest undercover sortie as a fake volunteer street medic bookends a hectic year for him." Read more
From the newswire: "Mark Neiweem, a 28-year-old Chicago activist, pleaded guilty in Cook County Court yesterday [April 11, 2013] to felony charges brought on by interactions with undercover Chicago police officers who had infiltrated activist groups prior to last May's NATO protests. Neiweem pleaded guilty to a probation violation charge from a previous conviction and to solicitation and attempted possession of an explosive or incendiary device. Neiweem, who had spent 329 continuous days in the appalling conditions of Cook County Jail while awaiting trial, will now serve out the remainder of a 3-year sentence in a state prison. He is expected to receive credit for time served and other reductions in the duration of his incarceration for good behavior.
"The politically motivated prosecution and abuse Mark suffered in Cook County Jail point to a degree of coordinated state repression and coercion which was physically and psychologically unbearable," said Rachel Unterman of the NATO 5 Defense Committee. Read more | NATO5 Support Committee
A Chicago media activist looks at two heralded media outlets: the forthcoming Al Jazeera America, and Chicago Public Radio station WBEZ, and writes: "Al Jazeera and WBEZ are guided by lofty ideals, but only sometimes. What can be done to hold them to account to those ideals? I took a closer look at both WBEZ Chicago Public Media and Al Jazeera America and what I found confirms the need for an in-depth examination of the governance of U.S. public media -- and the need for a wide distribution of the findings." Read more