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Occupy Chicago Diary

Diary entries from Occupy Chicago participant and SAIC student Abigail Wilson.

By News


It’s now 1:22 p.m., October 16. I’m at work and finally have a moment to continue this story. They gave us at least two warnings for violating a city ordinance (10-36-185, Ch. VII B2). To announce these warnings, the police used our ‘People Mic’ to convey this information. This is something we’ve adopted from Occupy Wall Street, in that the individual addressing the crowd speaks in short statements that are repeated. This way, everyone can hear what is being said and the information can be relayed through the crowd. Eventually, the crowd broke into three color groups. Red for those who could not or chose not to commit civil disobedience, yellow for those undecided, and green for those who were ready and willing to hold their ground. And there, we waited as the police slowly gathered more and more and encircled our camp from all sides. They turned on this large light, illuminated everything and organized into groups to being arrests. Around 12:30 a.m., maybe a little later, the police began breaking the human chain we had formed around our camp.

It has been commonly accepted that over 200 people were arrested that night. However, I see it that the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel violated mine and 200 others’ constitutional rights that night. After not working with us, like in other cities, to find a place for us to assemble peacefully and express our dissent, they forced us to go through a process of arrest, citation, and in the middle of the night that many of us had to stay up all night for. For me, I then had to make it to work by 10 a.m. after being released around 5 a.m. from the 1st District Precinct. We were violating a city ordinance, however, I was under the impression my constitutional rights supersede city ordinances. Dissent is patriotic, it what our country was built on.

My wrists were bruised and cut from the zip tie handcuffs that the officers in the precinct could not fit the scissors in to cut off. I was of the first group arrested, unfortunately, so I was unable to see the way things turned out when the police started destroying tents and forcibly removing people from those tents. When we arrived, the different officers argued with each other about what to do with us in terms of processing our personal things and putting us in cells. It was announced at one point, when at least 100 people had been searched, put in cells, and told to wait for processing, that they would skip of the window of time it takes to process our fingerprints fully and not make us pay the bond then and there. One officer said it was because we were all “good people” and that they just wanted to get us out of there. So, in a way, all of this was a tactic by the mayor and whoever is making the call to stop us, especially with the G8 and NATO Summit next May. The city has allotted $55 million tax dollars for security measures already. What they don’t understand is that we’re not going anywhere any time soon.

I also have to comment that in terms of being arrested, I would have very much preferred not to. At the same time, there is a time and a place when individuals choose this to be a form of protesting: civil disobedience, not listening to police orders in a peaceful way. It is important not to glorify arrests because it is just one part of the larger effort and it is important that we take a stand. It is not sustainable for us to be pushed further and further into a smaller space with barricades at La Salle and Jackson and it’s not sustainable to have to be constantly mobilized. We are human beings with human needs and we are also citizens in a supposed democracy where we are guaranteed the right to demonstrate and assemble.

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