Press Conference and Demonstration Planned at Police HeadquartersCHICAGO- As President Clinton took the stage at the Democratic National Convention tonight, Chicago police raided the site of Active Resistance, a counter-convention conference organized by the local activist group, Autonomous Zone. A press conference and demonstration will be held at 1:00pm on Friday, August 30 at the 14th District Police Station, 2150 N. California Ave.
At approximately 8:00pm tonight, numerous police vans gathered in the street and 5-8 uniformed officers forced their way into the building at 2010 W. Carroll, which has served as a central meeting site for the conference. Several conference participants were pepper-sprayed; two were hospitalized. Officers reportedly searched through personal belongings and confiscated radio equipment and papers from the site. Conference participants report that when they asked to see a search warrant, officers told them a search warrant wasn't necessary. No arrests have been reported.
As officers entered from the back of the building, they ordered conference participants there to sit down. Those who did not sit down were pushed down. One officer threatened to push a woman down the back stairs of the building. Conference participant Lynn Harrington was kicked and, when she asked officers "what are you doing?," was pepper-sprayed in the face at close range. Conference participants report that they repeatedly requested a search warrant and officers' badge numbers, but were not provided with either. Participants were told they were not being arrested or detained. But when one woman and her three year-old son asked if they could leave, officers denied them permission. On their way out, officers reportedly pepper-sprayed participants indiscriminately. Conference participant Alex Berkman was sprayed repeatedly at close range and was hospitalized.
Police vans then proceeded to another Active Resistance meeting site at 343 N. Western. By the time officers arrived at the second site, counter-convention participants had already removed their belongings and evacuated the building.
Active Resistance has been host to over 700 activists from throughout North America and Europe who came to Chicago to attend workshops and discussion groups on issues ranging from community organizing to alternative economics. Conference participants also organized today's Festival of the Oppressed, a peaceful street-theater procession with costumes and colorful puppets made by participants during the week. The police raids this evening come at the end of a day of 14 arrests of activists and independent media makers. Eight conference participants were arrested at the Festival of the Oppressed procession, including the parade's traffic safety coordinator. Six videographers working with CounterMedia, a coalition of alternative media makers, were arrested while covering the procession. Their cameras were confiscated and some of their film was destroyed by arresting officers. Videographer Jeff Perlstein, who was arrested earlier in the week and participated in CounterMedia's press conference this morning addressing police harassment of independent media, was arrested again this afternoon. He reports witnessing an officer smash his camera on the ground. Charges have not yet been released.