High-Stakes Trial Approaching: Videographer Attacked by Police Faces Almost Three
Years in Jail
Revolution #209, August 15, 2010:
A high-stakes trial is approaching in Chicago, August 24. The prosecution,
with the active collaboration of some "ethical humanists," wants to put a volunteer videographer in jail for videotaping a
statement by Sunsara Taylor at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) objecting to her being "disinvited" to speak
at ESHC on Nov. 1 ( "EHSC Calls Police Against Videographer," Revolution #182, Nov. 8, 2009). The videographer faces a maximum sentence of almost three years in
This story began when Sunsara was approached to speak at the EHSC by one of its board members after he saw
her on a panel at Columbia College in Chicago in April 2009. The EHSC Program Committee approved and scheduled Sunsara's talk
on "Morality without Gods" for Nov. 1 (as well as for a separate workshop the day before).
However, as the Nov. 1 date
of Sunsara's long-scheduled talk approached, a small group within the EHSC spearheaded an underhanded campaign to subvert
the Society's stated principles and have her talk cancelled.
Sunsara did speak at the EHSC on Oct. 31, at a well-attended
workshop on Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity. The audience included the president and several board
members of EHSC. At the beginning of her presentation, Sunsara made a statement condemning her disinvitation and calling out
the silent acquiescence of too many EHSC members. She also clearly said she would return the next day, "prepared to give my
talk and giving the EHSC the chance, up until the last minute, to do the right thing." The entire workshop was recorded by
a volunteer videographer.
The next morning, Nov. 1, Sunsara and her videographer did return to the EHSC before the
scheduled program billed as "free and open to the public" and were welcomed at the door like everyone else. A few minutes
later, Sunsara stood by her chair to make a statement challenging her unethical disinvitation and inviting everyone interested
in the truth about her views and this outrageous disinvitation to come hear her talk in exile. She was never told to leave.
The videographer silently stood near her, documenting her on his iPhone.
As Sunsara was finishing and saying she was
leaving, an undercover cop and a uniformed cop rushed into the room with other plans. They grabbed the videographer and roughly
dragged him away, ripping his shirt to shreds. When a crowd of people called for the police to stop the brutality and let
him go, one of the cops even threatened to spray everyone there with mace. The videographer was pushed to the ground face-first,
handcuffed and maced directly in his eyes, and multiple cops piled on top of him. He now faces charges of criminal trespass,
resisting arrest, and simple battery, for allegedly "striking" the undercover pig in the chest as he was being dragged, beaten
and maced. As is typical in cases of police brutality and unjust arrest, the false charges are piled on as "cover charges."
In the face of growing opposition, the EHSC has continued to press charges against the videographer,
and its leadership has spread more lies and distortions about both the circumstances of Sunsara's disinvitation and the events
on Nov. 1. It has continued its quest to suppress discussion and debate about its unethical actions, working with the State's
Attorney to file contempt charges against the videographer in an attempt to shut down his defense committee's website, http://www.dropthecharges.net/.
A strong legal argument was made against the contempt petition and
supporters filled the courtroom. The judge could not rule in favor of the contempt charges without exposing that he was violating
the legal system's own supposed rules and rights. Still, he said, "This is not a time for drama. This is a simple misdemeanor
case. That's all that this is…" Quite a statement to make while hearing a contempt petition for a political website!
The judge threatened to hold the defense committee's efforts against the defendant, saying "He [the defendant] can ask [the
committee] to cease and desist until this trial is over...[because] this is not helping his case." Despite this, the contempt
petition was defeated and the committee continues to build opposition to this outrageous prosecution.
Much has been
done to mobilize people to oppose this attack and turn it around. Some members of EHSC have spoken out and even quit in protest
against this outrageous arrest and prosecution. Big debate about it broke out in the blogosphere, including on P.Z. Myers'
top-rated science blog Pharyngula, where Myers strongly condemned the actions of the EHSC for violating the most fundamental
principles of humanist ethics.
Support is greatly needed to defeat these outrageous charges. Visit the defense committee's
website at http://www.dropthecharges.net/ to learn more and see what you can do to turn this attack around. In the Chicago area, attend
the trial on Aug. 24 at 9:30 a.m. at the Cook County Courthouse, 5600 W. Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL.
By Carlos Miller It’s only fitting that the violent, aggressive and intimidating tactics police
used to control protesters during the G20 summit in Toronto this weekend is named after my hometown – the city where
I’ve been arrested twice in the last three years for photographing cops against their wishes.
The Miami Model came into existence in 2003 during the protests outside the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit where more than 270 protesters,
photographers and non-participating bystanders were arrested in downtown Miami. Not a single person was convicted. The City
of Miami, which was overseeing a multitude of police agencies, ended up dishing out more than a half-million dollars in lawsuits
(I was still living in Arizona at the time, which is just as well because I’m sure I would have been arrested).
It’s been used to a lesser extent on Miami Beach during Memorial Day Weekend (where I was arrested the second time)
when hordes of black people come down to party. Not surprisingly, very few of those arrests end up in conviction. My case
was dismissed when the cop failed to show up to court twice.
Nevertheless, the Miami Model is viewed as a successful tactic within the law enforcement community because it allows police
to target everyone and anyone irregardless if they are committing a crime or not.
And this, of course, includes photographers and journalists.
So far in Toronto, four journalists, including three photographers, were reportedly arrested during the G20 summit over
However, with more than 500 people reportedly arrested, there’s bound to be many more journalists and photographers
swept up in mass arrests that we haven’t heard about yet.
Granted, some of those people arrested probably deserved it considering they were torching cop cars and breaking windows.
That is, if the cops took time from arresting peaceful demonstrators and journalists to arrest those people.
Regardless, the Miami Model doesn’t distinguish between those who are breaking the law and those who are demonstrating
peacefully or covering the demonstrations, as a Toronto Star columnist is discovering.
The Miami Model, in fact, escalates the tension by turning officers into urban stormtroopers. Just watch the above video
when police dressed in indistinguishable riot gear pull people out of crowds to arrest them who were not doing anything except
Brett Gundlock, a staff photographer for the Post, was tackled and taken away by several police officers in riot gear
as they attempted to disperse protesters hanging around near the Ontario legislature.
Kier Gilmour, a photographer for Canwest News Service who witnessed the arrest, said the officers knocked Mr. Gundlock
to the ground and then dragged him away. He had been standing with several other media photographers at the time.
“They slammed him down, onto his ass so to speak, then they dragged him back up and pulled him back to the police
line,” Mr. Gilmour said.
Colin O’Connor, a freelance photographer working for the Post, was also apparently detained.
Mr. Gilmour said the police were being very aggressive in trying to disperse the remaining demonstrators near Queen’s
Park, which is several blocks away from the secure zone where the G20 meeting is taking place.
“They kept screaming ‘it’s time to go home, it’s time to go home.’”
He said that every few minutes a group of officers would rush the crowd at a full sprint and grab a few people. The
protesters were not doing anything violent or provocative at the time, he said.
Jesse Rosenfeld, a freelance journalist who has written for the Guardian’s Comment is Free website, was arrested
and hit by police officers, according to a Canadian TV journalist who witnessed the arrest.
There was considerable anger at some of the police tactics. In scenes broadcast live in Toronto, an officer in riot
gear could be seen striking an apparently unarmed protester several times during a standoff between lines of protesters and
police. A Montreal journalist, Stefan Christoff, said he was hit many times by a riot policeman with a plastic-coated metal
baton after chanting slogans opposed to the G20.
Steve Paikin, who presents TV Ontario’s current affairs programme Agenda, said he saw the assault on Rosenfeld.
“As I was escorted away from the demonstration, I saw two officers hold a journalist. A third punched him in the stomach.
The man collapsed. Then the third officer drove his elbow into the man’s back.”
The irony is that the real culprits in these protesters, the ones who are doing the actual vandalism, are members of the Black Bloc; the collective group of anarchists who don black masks and uniforms as they commit their criminal acts.
These people also have an issue with photographers and have been known to attack them.
They embraced the Black Bloc tactic, a popular sight at almost every international protest since the late 1990s: The
crowd, dressed in their black uniforms, moves as a blob, its members indistinguishable from one another. One will run from
the pack and lob a rock through a window, before disappearing back into the mob.
On Saturday, as the riot police shuffled closer to the intersection at College and University Aves.— shields
up, gas masks on, guns raised — they disappeared again.
Dozens huddled on a patch of grass outside Queen’s Park. Protected by their peers, the ones in the middle changed
into their street clothes. Within minutes, all that was left was a pile of black garments.
“Don’t take a f–king picture of me,” said one man, now wearing a brown T-shirt, as he walked
So essentially you have two groups of masked thugs; one wearing indistinguishable black uniforms, the other wearing indistinguishable
And the real victims are the hundreds who get arrested who have broken no law as well as the taxpayers who end up dishing
out thousands in lawsuits.
To learn more about the Miami Model, check out the ten-video documentary on the 2003 FTAA summit arrests. It’s really
a fascinating look at the police mentality and underground element within my city. It probably explains a lot of my own persona.
Carlos Miller has written 902 articles. My name is Carlos Miller and I am a Miami multimedia journalist
with more than ten years of professional experience who has been arrested twice since 2007 for photographing police against
their wishes. I started this blog to document developments in my first court case. Today, after beating both arrests, Photography
is Not a Crime is renowned nationally for documenting these types of abuses, which occur on an almost daily basis.
March "Against the Police
About 75-100 anarchists and supporters marched from
the waterfront through downtown Portland.This was a protest march against the rise in Police killing and abuse in Portland
The horse police interact(?) with kids on the sidewalk and FAIL
to leave their business cards with a concerned citizen who had just asked for them their cards(?) The (a) Federal Marshals
from the courthouse come from inside to take a picture of me filming the horse police can be seen in the begining of the video.
Then A Transit Police stops in the middle of the road. Then A Private Policeman walks by and stands on there steps with the
other 2 Marshals. As the horse cops leave with out handing their business cards. Then, the Private Rent a Cop stares at me
like he is a Texas Ranger with his shades on from the top step of the courthouse. So I start filming him for about 5 minutes
solid. He gives me the "Texas stare down" after 5 minutes and some wordy exchanges he quits the stare down contest, and goes
inside the courthouse.
(Fact) The one horse cop in this video who is named "Reister
is the "same officer" who took my video camera in 2008 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHMnFD... ... since then I have taken the city to court and have cleared the air
on citizens filming the police with out being hassled. (That Officer Reister was so confused about in 2008 is now corrected
POLICE ANTI VIOLENCE PROTEST
police are protested against due to
their escalation of deadly
force and violence
on un armed citizens. This
march lasted for over
5 hours and took place all
over the downtown area.