Prosecution Forced to Back off Serious Charges Against Chicago Revolution Club Members

December 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


On November 29, three members of the Revolution Club were about to start trial for multiple misdemeanor charges carrying up to one year in jail. The charges stemmed from an outrageous arrest on July 21 in Englewood on Chicago’s South Side. A video of the arrest on Facebook Live was seen by close to 100,000 people. Many of the comments expressed outrage at the assault on revolutionaries.

The scene in the courtroom on the 29th concentrated the two sides and was shaping up to be an important arena of the political battle that had been fought out on the streets in Englewood. The state had come down hard and the revolutionaries were going on the counteroffensive. People from among the oppressed and the suburbs were there to support the revolutionaries. The defendants were represented by attorneys who are highly regarded for their track record of winning trials. The prosecutors trying the case had two high level supervisors on hand on their side.

The attorneys had prepared an important motion to dismiss the obstruction charges as violating the First (speech and assembly) and Fourteenth amendments (guaranteeing due process) as applied to these arrests. The motion drew attention to the peaceful activity of the defendants who were literally standing on a sidewalk next to Moran Park in Englewood and the fact that the defendants’ speech was critical of police brutality and made a strong legal argument for how the arrests were a violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights. In fact, police reports of the arrest that day stated that there was an “unpermitted rally” taking place in relation to people standing on a sidewalk. (In Chicago, no permit is required for rallies or marches on public sidewalks!) Two of those arrested at the time for sound ordinance violations had their charges dismissed earlier.

The arrests of the Revolution Club members that day occurred before—in the run-up to—a noon rally featuring Joe Veale, former Black Panther Party member and longtime supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party. The arrests prevented the rally from taking place.

It is important to keep in mind that this court hearing was taking place against the whole backdrop of Kap and the NFL “take a knee” movement to demand an end to police brutality and injustice against Black people. And in the context of MANY exposures of the racist, brutal, and murderous practices of the Chicago Police Department and the eruption of protests that rocked the city after Laquan McDonald’s murder came to light, and now Trump’s encouragement to police to go ahead and be brutal.

The prosecutors seemed to want to avoid trial. What role the overall political climate and the battle waged by the Revolution Club in the sphere of public opinion played in this is unclear. They offered the defendants a “deal.” In exchange for dismissing the charges, the prosecutors demanded an apology from the defendants. The Revolution Club members refused to apologize and rejected that “deal”!

According to observers in the court, the motion to dismiss seemed to have an impact on the judge about the actual nature of this case that landed in his lap. The judge intervened and an agreement was eventually arrived at on the spot. ALL charges will be dismissed with no admission of guilt upon the completion of community service hours (albeit an excessive number of hours) at a nonprofit organization(s) chosen by the defendants.

This agreement also included the dismissal of a second misdemeanor case for two of these same Revolution Club members, who were arrested later in August right in front of the Revolution Club Organizing Center in South Shore while they were observing and documenting police harassment of people in the neighborhood.

Had this case gone to trial, the defense was prepared to bring out how the Revolution Club had done nothing wrong. In fact, it was the police who had brutally assaulted them in an outrageous show of force while they were speaking out for the rights of the people in the neighborhood to be in public spaces, to stand up to police brutality, and to learn about the movement for revolution. AND, the defense was prepared to fight to bring out in court how the arrests that day were part of a pattern by Chicago Police Department, especially in the 7th District where the arrests took place, of unconstitutionally targeting, harassing, and arresting the Revolution Club and others for political speech and assembly that the police did not like. Importantly, this pattern had been documented over months by a legal observer, video evidence, and eye witnesses. (See "A Pattern of Police Harassment of the Revolution Club and the Masses Stepping Forward".)

Had the case gone to trial, there would have been a legal battle to bring out exposure not only of the CPD’s 7th District being brutal criminal state thugs, but more fundamentally actually enforcing the conditions that give rise to a bloodbath among the people and how the police try to prevent people from taking up the revolutionary solution to their own and humanity’s emancipation. The Revolution Club message the police repeatedly attack and try to stop is captured in the Revolution Club’s declaration of its mission from this past summer (and continuing now): “This Summer in Chicago Will NOT Be a Bloodbath of Killing Each Other; This Summer Will NOT Be Free Rein for Police to Murder and Terrorize Black and Brown People; This Summer We Get Organized for Revolution to Emancipate All of Humanity.”


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