Active Resistance: One Month Later

The Anarchives (
Mon, 14 Oct 1996 15:40:45 +0000 (GMT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 1996 05:09:57 -0500 (CDT)
From: Willerer Greg <>
To: Willerer Greg <>
Subject: Active Resistance: One Month Later


It's a month after the Active Resistance counter-convention and we here
in Chicago are still recovering. Overall, AR went quite well, with over
700 people attending. We withstood the police harassment, raid of the
Ballroom site, and arrests at the Festival of the Oppressed March and now
our legal defense is doing well. We still have quite a bit to follow up on
though, and that's what this post is about.


First off, for those of you who didn't get the full story on the events
in Chicago during the DNC, I recommend that you check out the
CounterMedia web page at:
This site has some great photos and coverage of the actions, etc. during
the DNC. Specifically, you can find action reports of the Not On The
Guest List march, the Stop the Drug War March, the Immigrants Rights
March, and clinic defense against Operation Rescue, et al. You'll also
find reports on police harassment of Active Resistance and CounterMedia,
and the Raid on the Ballroom site for AR.

If you're lazy or don't have web access, you can also request those
articles from this address ( We also have several
other pieces available on request, including:
The Nation's piece on Active Resistance
Slingshot's articles on all that went on
Personal Accounts on AR and CounterMedia, from Jesse Hirsch,
Chuck Munson, Miles, and several others.
Eric Zorn's excellent Chicago Tribune article on police
mishandling of clinic defenders and allowance of FACE violations
A Net Press Release on the Arrests of 5 Festival Of Life Organizers
Several other wimpy Tribune articles on the protests
All these pieces and more will be going into the forthcoming booklet,
Active Resistance: Afterwords. Which takes us to...


We're in the process of compiling this booklet and encourage
submissions! We're looking for personal accounts of the conference, core
sessions, worshops, organization, security, other DNC activities, etc.
Critical evaluations are especially welcome, as this was an experiment
anda learning process for all of us. We also want pieces on projects,
ideas, etc that spawned from the core sessions and workshops. Our goal
was to put on a well-organized anarchist conference that resulted in
concrete projects and movement-building, and we want to know how we did
and how we can do it better next time.

We're also compiling any newspaper articles, net reports, etc., so send
those as well.

We have a tentative deadline of October 31st. If you're going to be
submitting late, contact us and let us know. Contact numbers are at the
bottom of this post.


Now, with all the arrests, raids, and so on going on at the end of the
week, there were all kinds of rumors going out that were just wrong. We
suspect some of them as being police generated. We want to take this
opportunity to dispell a few of them.

--The Ballroom was the ONLY site raided during the DNC. The Spice
Factory site, the Autonomous Zone, the CounterMedia Office, the Rainbow
House were NOT raided. During the Ballroom raid, there were no arrests,
although 3 people were maced, 2 of whom were taken to the hospital. The
Spice Factory site was evacuated because the police were mobilized to
raid it next. They never did. To this date, the police are still
denying that the raid occurred at all (the police who raided wore no
visible badges or nametags).

--While the CounterMedia Office was not raided, the CounterMedia van was
raided twice. The first raid was repelled, during the second the
independent videographers and journalists were jacked up against the van
while it was searched completely (without a warrant). After the Festival
of the Oppressed March, a second van of CounterMedia people was pulled
over and towed while the occupants were arrested and their cameras smashed.
For more on this, see below.

--A Chicago Tribune article reporting on the raid and arrests quotes the
police as claiming that Active Resistance and "other protestors" had "put
out bogus press releases on police stationary". When questioned, the
Tribune reporters who wrote this said they had never seen these bogus
press releases (such thorough journalistic integrity), and they had only
heard about it from the police spokesperson, Paul Jenkins. When we
tried to question Jenkins he refused to return calls. An assistant of
his claims they got information of the bogus reports from the Tribune.
How convenient.

--There have been several rumors going around regarding CounterMedia's
radio communications, and especially the monitoring of CounterMedia's
frequencies by the Chicago Police (and friends...) and vice versa.
Specifically, there is a persistant rumor that CounterMedia was actively
sending out misinformation over the radio (theirs or the cops, depending
on which rumor you hear) to misdirect, confuse, and antagonize the
police. THIS IS NOT TRUE. The rumor likely stems from an exaggeration
of the fact that CounterMedia used "code" over the radio, a standard
security precaution (especially in consideration of police monitoring), and
that this code was beneficial in some cases when the police had targetted
CounterMedia teams for arrest in their clampdown efforts.

If there are any other rumors that you feel need to be clarified, please
let us know.


After the dust had settled, we had a total of 16 arrests, 8 each for Active
Resistance and CounterMedia to deal with, mostly for Disorderly Conduct
and a few Obstruction and misdemeanor Battery charges. (5 folks from the
Festival of Life were also indicted on felony charges by a Grand Jury,
see the post below for more info.) A team of lawyers from the National
Lawyers Guild took up our cases and have been doing great. The court
dates were spread out all through September and October, to be as
inconvenient as possible, but we have had some luck in consolidating some
of them. So far 4 of the CounterMedia folks with Disorderly charges have
had their cases dropped. One AR person, who was arrested at clinic
defense for defending himself against anti-choice fanatic Tim Murphy, who
was punching him, also had his case dropped. The other cases are all
pending. We'll keep you posted.

We'll be posting updates on the A-Zone voicemail (312-278-0775), so give
us a ring.


We are currently in the process of filing a complaint with the Office of
Professional Standards about the police misconduct during AR and with
specific attention on the Ballroom Raid. If anyone out there was a
witness to the raid or the police mobilization in the area, and you're
willing to be an official witness for the complaint, please contact the
Autonomous Zone ASAP. We are also compiling written reports, so send
those our way as well.


We'd like to thank everyone who attended Active Resistance and who has
given us support for the arrests and raid. We've gotten a tremendous
amount of e-mail and phone calls, and we appreciate the solidarity.

We are currently planning on hosting a small, informal, post-AR wrap-up
type conference thingy around Thanksgiving at Circle Pines Co-op in
Delton, Michigan. We'll be posting more on that soon. If you're
interested, contact us.


In addition, a western regional anarchist/activist gathering is being
planned near Eugene, Oregon for November 7-12. To quote from the post we

Western folks met several times at AR and decided we want to get
together this fall to do some real networking and dialoguing, in
the hopes of building and refining our already kick-ass regional network.
We agreed that we want to get to know each other better, and learn about
what we're all doing locally. We decided to have the gathering outside
city limits, someplace where theres not the distractions and stresses of
daily city life, so we can be more personal with each other and talk more
intimately about mutual aid, community, future visions, alternative
structures and counterinstitutions, "outreach", and making connections with
communities outside our own.

We still haven't decided on a location for this thing, but we'll be
sending out info to infoshops and the like, and you can check in with us
as the date nears. Thursday night (Nov. 7) we'll have a rad show in
Eugene to kick it off, featuring anarcho-acoustic eco-rocker Casey Neill
and others. write us at:

pob 11703 Eugene, Or. 97440 (541) 302-1838


Just in case you wanted to see the numbers, here's a count from the
Active Resistance Security Logs on the amount of certain incidents that

Incidents During AR of:
(numbers in parantheses indicate additional incidents prior to 8/21/96)

Police Harassment of AR participants: 12 (1)
Police Surveillance: 13
Unknown Surveillance: 11 (2)
Police Drivebys of AR sites: 14 at least
Police Stopping, Questioning, Attempting to enter: 10 (1)
Legal Harassment (Fire Inspectors, Tax Assesors): (3)
Raids ;> : 1

and that's not including our voicemail getting trashed, the
(attemps at) infiltration, mysterious and threatening phone calls....
you get the idea.


From: Laura Quilter <lauramd@UIC.EDU>
Subject: Arrest Briefings - VX
RE: DNC Repression From: VX


People around the world are familiar with the images from the
streets of Chicago 1968: the police viciously beating antiwar protesters -
along with journalists and anyone else coming within reach of their batons
- right outside the hall where the Democratic Party was holding its

Leading up to the 1996 Democratic National Convention (DNC),
government officials and the media worked overtime to exorcise the ghost
of 1968. The Chicago police, they said, was no longer the same force.
The 1996 version, they said, is younger, more multinational, with more
women, and "more respectful of civil rights"

Mayor Daley - son of the original Mayor Daley of 1968 - even
dropped by the "return to Chicago 1968-96" concert and rally held the day
before the DNC opened, which featured defendants from the Chicago 8
conspiracy trial, among others. He told the people they that though back
then, they might not have felt "welcome" in the city, they should feel
"welcome" now.

Behind this attempt to whitewash over stigma of the 1968 police
riot was the reality of police-state Chicago. During DNC week, the city
was saturated with armed enforcers from 33 different government agencies
and private security forces - from the Secret Service to the Illinois
State police to thousands of local cops. High-tech military helicopters
carried out surveillance from the air. The area around United Center, the
convention site, was secured like a military zone - including parts of the
nearby Henry Horner Homes projects.

The city set up two official "protest pits" surrounded by fences
and conducted a lottery to pick one-hour slots for protest groups. Even a
federal judge ruled that this violated first amendment rights. But the
judge's "compromise" was to allow a handful of protesters to get closer to
the DNC delegates and pass out leaflets - while confined within what
looked like a metal cage.

The plan for "preventing a repeat of 1968" was to turn the city into an
armed camp. Protests would be surrounded with overwhelming force, though
stopping short of outright attacks especially when cameras were present.
All the while, the mainstream media incessantly chattered about how
"restrained" the police we re.

That charade came to a close on Thursday, August 29 as the city
cracked down on protesters. 18 arrested. A night time police raid.
Activists beaten and gassed by police. Alternative media reporters swept
off the street, their equipment destroyed and stolen by police. Charges
against those arrested ranged from disorderly conduct to felony mob
action. By taking these steps, the authorities openly shredded their
carefully cultivated fairytale image of Chicago, while brutality, covert
operations and political railroads took center stage.


Thursday's crackdown began with the roundup of activists
associated with the Festival of Life. Based in Chicago's downtown Grant
Park, the Festival consisted of a week-long series of activities ranging
from concerts and rallies to marches.

Their vision, according to Festival organizer Rob McDonald, was to have an
"articulate critique of the American government" on issues that are not
being addressed in the media. Each day there was a particular focus -
against the government's war on drugs, against the destruction of the
environment, against the continued incarceration of political prisoners
in the U.S. The theme for Thursday's action was "peace," and plans
included a march through downtown Chicago.

Before the march could even get off the ground, four Festival
organizers and participants were picked off by police. Two, members of
the sound crew, were later released. The other two, organizers Rob
McDonald and Bonnie Tocwish, were held for charges.

One festival organizer, Michael Durschmid, was busted while he
participated in a vigil at a police station for those previously arrested.
Reverend Ron Schupp was grabbed leaving an afternoon press conference.
Ben Masel was the fifth charged.

The activists all face identical felony charges: two counts of aggravated
battery and and one count of mob action. Specifically, they are all
accused of striking one cop with a bottle, another with a fist, and
inciting demonstrators to break police lines, march on the street, and
toss objects at cops.

These actions are all alleged to have occured at a protest held on
Tuesday, August 27th. That action was organized by the "Not on the Guest
List Coalition," and demanded freedom for Leonard Peltier and other
political prisoners, denounced police brutality and the racist/classist
"justice" system and called for an end to the death penalty.

The police waited two days after the Not On The Guest List!
protest to make their arrests. Why the delay? Rob McDonald of the
Festival of Life had one answer. The authorities arrested them on these
groundless charges to derail the peace march which was occuring the same
day that Clinton would be addressing the Convention.

McDonald also added that it is when groups are doing "coalition
building" - such as uniting across barriers of race that they are
especially open to attack. He related how the Dunbar High School band -
it's members all Black teens - was supposed to play in a Festival march
that focused on jobs in the community and opposition to the war on the
people. Though the teacher was originally all for it, the police brought
in two van loads of cops, put a great deal of pressure on the teacher, and
forced him to back out.


One of the plans for the Festival of Life march had been to link
up with another action that was taking place in the Wicker Park
neighborhood that day. Called the "Festival of the Oppressed", it was a
mix of performance art and street protest a few hund red young people
parading through the streets with elaborately worked on paper mache and
wooden puppet art.

There was an enormous skeletal figure of the Pope. People
sporting police badges and wearing giant pig's heads. A real-life "Joe
Camel" - mouth stuffed with cigarettes - hacking and coughing while
pushing smokes. "Reporters" carried around oversize cardboard video
cameras that were labeled "EMPTY TV" and "SEE BS," and randomly
interviewed curious onlookers.

In the center of the march was a thirty-foot foot tower
representing corporate greed, being dragged by "consumers," "workers,"
"taxpayers" and "voters." Bringing up the rear in chains were the
casualties, "immigrants," minorities", "single moms." Toward the end of
the march, the tower was "stormed" and destroyed by it's victims, leaving
a red fist and panels showing a new cooperative society.

No one observing could miss the contrast between the colorful procession
and the line of blue uniforms that surrounded the people. To the left ran
a wall of cops on horses. On the right a line of cops on foot.
Completing the box were dozens more police in the front and back, their
hands gripping billy clubs. The police were noticeably hostile and openly
intimidating. Unlike the image presented over the last few days, this was
not "officer friendly."

Though the cops didn't stop the march, they arrested over a dozen
people. The parade's traffic safety coordinator was one of those
targeted. Another was a marcher hurt after a police horse stepped on his
foot. Friends had put him in a van so he could ice his injury. The
police then stopped the van and arrested all the occupants. He was
dragged out, clubbed on his good leg, and kicked a number of times on his
injured foot. He was denied medical attention, insulted and interrogated.
During this ordeal, he would periodically black out from pain.

Six of those arrested at the Festival of Oppressed march were
members of CounterMedia, an alternative media coalition that had been
active during the entire week documenting the protests and issues
surrounding the DNC. It was clear that the police were making a conscious
effort to avoid having their actions caught on tape or film. A person
helping to dispatch reporting teams over a hand radio was grabbed and the
radio confiscated. Video cameras were broken and film was destroyed. A
van with a video crew was stopped, impounded and all equipment inside
seized. Occupants were told it would be checked out by the FBI. While in
jail, camera people were repeatedly questioned by the cops about


The Festival of the Oppressed was one of a number of events
sponsored by Active Resistance (AR). AR organizers describe it as a ten
day "counter-convention" involving over 700 activists from throughout
North America and Europe taking on issues such as community organizing and
alternative economics.

Among the many groups involved were the local Autonomous Zone, a
radical community center based on anarchist principles, and Seeds of
Peace, who do logistic support to anti-nuclear and ecological struggles.

Most of those attending the conference were young. Some were
experienced activists. Others just coming to learn. All were considered
a threat by the authorities.

>From the beginning of the AR conference, it was the target of police
harassment. Police often slowly cruised by the two buildings used for
meetings and programs and repeatedly visited those sites. In one
incident, a uniformed cop attempted to enter one building under the guise
of investigating a burglary.

One incident was a thinly veiled threat to people's lives.

As two AR participants walked by a vehicle parked near an activity site,
the driver questioned them about being in the area, saying it was
dangerous since so many people are packing guns. He pulled out a weapon
of his own - said that he wasn't going to h arm them - but suggested that
they and everyone else leave the area. "I know what your doing here" he
told them.


On the morning of Thursday, August 29th, CounterMedia held a press
conference detailing police attacks on their reporters on activists and on
Horner residents. A CounterMedia video cameraman arrested and his camera
seized while filming at a clinic under attack by anti-choice forces.
Another arrested while interviewing Horner children about their experience
with the police. Twice in one evening, a CounterMedia video team had their
van stopped and boarded by police while they were attempting to videotape
the "Cash the Check" demonstration near Horner Homes. Both the van and
video crew were searched.

Later that Thursday night - about the time that Clinton was making
his acceptance speech at the United Center - the police carried out a
gestapo-style raid on a building used for AR programs. Some people were
sitting out in the back of the building, which faces out onto railroad
tracks. Upwards of ten cops came running in.

They kicked a woman, sprayed her with pepper gas. Others were
grabbed and thrown to the ground. One woman asked if she could take her
three-year old child away from the area. The cops said no. All but one
of the cops had no badges or names plates visible - they claimed the
badges were "lost." The one with a badge kept his distance.

The cops showed no warrants. They gave no explanation for the
raid, except for a flimsy excuse. The railroad company, they claimed,
reported two individuals jumping onto a freight train. AR people deny this
every happened. By the time the police left, they had ransacked people's
belongings, dumped out two large pots of food and seized radio equipment
and papers. According to one witness, the cops stated that the material
was "subversion against the United States government."

As police left, they sprayed another person in the face at point
blank range with pepper gass. Though he quickly fell to the ground,
police continued to spray him around his head, causing damage to one of
his eyes. After getting news of this attack, and noticing large numbers
of police gathering nearby, AR participants evacuated another building.

At a press conference called the following day, a member of the
National Lawyers Guild - who will be representing some of those arrested -
commented, "One of the most disturbing things was that this seems to be an
orchestrated effort on the part of the police and possibly the Secret
Service. It just makes you realize where our government's at right now.
And I think that's a really disturbing statement about the nature of
?1;0cwhat's going on in this country, and what's going on with things
like the
crime bill that passed in '93, the anti-terrorism bill that just passed -
this level of squashing dissent that's going on."


From: Laura Quilter <lauramd@UIC.EDU>
Subject: Countermedia arrest info (fwd)

Countermedia Arrest Info.

This summer groups across the country mobilized against
Democratic Party policies on criminal justice, corporate
welfare, health care, homelessness, immigrant rights, affirmative
action, and a host of other issues. Countermedia formed to ensure
that the protests, actions, and issues ignored
by conventional media sources would be documented in Chicago
and beyond. on police harassment and brutality. In many instances,
Countermedia was the only group to cover the protests. As a
result, Countermedia journalists began experiencing harassment
by the Chicago Police Department.

The first Countermedia arrests occured on Tuesday, August 27. Ed
Nix of Wisconsin was arrested at a demonstration where pro-choice
activists and pro-lifers clashed outside and abortion clinic. Jeff
Perlstein of Seattle was arrested on the sidewalk outside the DNC's
official protest pit while interviewing children from Henry Horner Homes,
the housing project adjacent to the convention center. Nix and Perlstein,
both videographers for Countermedia, were charged with disorderly conduct.
On Wednesday, August 28, during the Cash the Check march
Countermedia's communications van was stormed by CPD. Six Countermedia
journalists were thrown up against the side of the van while it was
searched and film was destroyed. No arrests were made and no tickets
issued. CPD has no record of the incident.
The bulk of Countermedia arrests happened the day of the last
protest, Thursday August 29. During the Festival of the Oppressed march,
six more arrests occured. Lee Wells was arrested while communicating by
radio with the rest of the team and charged with disorderly conduct.
Well's radio was seized. Jeff Perlstein was arrested again and also
charged with disorderly conduct. His camera was broken. Another
Countermedia video team, Neil Corcoran and Carla West of
Michigan, were arrested and held overnight. The video camera they were
using, lent by another Countermedia volunteer, was broken.
On the same day, Rob Moriarti and Mike Gedmin, who
were providing transportation to video teams into the field using Well's
vehicle, were pulled over twice. The second time they were pulled over
they were immediately arrested. Officers refused to inform
them of any charges against them and evaded questions about
which district they were being taken to. Wells' vehicle was
confiscated along with film of Gedmin's and Moriarti's arrests,
video equiipment, camera gear, 35mm film, and a hand-held radio.
Throughout these incidents, numerous rolls of still film were exposed or
confiscated, andseveral videotapes were ruined. It should be noted that many
Countermedia journalists were chased away from protest sites
and had to actively evade the CPD while in the field.
The eight Countermedia arrests were but one parcel of the 53
convention related arrests spread amongst several groups that are
we are currently aware of.

It's is particularly disturbing that the Chicago Police Department
which has a well publicized substantial -and very current- history of
brutality should be dictating to us who can participate in free speech and
autocratically determining who is media. It is doubly disturbing that
they so successfully terrorized alternative press and protestors without
disturbing a single crease from the smiles of the "I remember when" media
mutts and the corporate press who trotted after them for one week in the
Windy. But believe me, this hasn't blown over here.



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