NATO Protesters Hold Vigil Outside Area North Police Station
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UPDATED 05/21/12 2:13 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Several protesters were released from police custody Monday morning, after dozens were arrested the day before following a violent clash with police.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the men and women were taken to the Area North police headquarters, at Belmont and Western avenues.
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Meanwhile, protesters camped outside the detective headquarters, 2452 W. Belmont Ave., waiting for other protesters to be released from jail. Some of the protesters were flying an American flag upside-down as a symbol of protest.
More than 50 protesters were arrested Sunday night. At least 40 had been released Monday morning with misdemeanor charges, including reckless conduct and mob action.
Three protesters were charged with felonies, and remained in custody as of 11 a.m. Monday. According to the Sun-Times Media Wire, two of the protesters facing felony charges were charged with aggravated battery to a police officer.
Raziel Azuara, 24, was accused of throwing a lightbulb filled with red paint at police officers at Cermak Road and Michigan Avenue. Yonte Harris, 19, allegedly grabbed the legs of a police officer and pushed the officer’s bike into his chest.
Azuara was ordered held on a $150,000 bond, while Harris was ordered held on $200,000, the wire reported.
After Sunday’s protest rally outside McCormick Place, hundreds of people marched from the Loop northwest on Milwaukee Avenue, and about 100 to 150 made it to the police station where arrested protesters were being held. Observers described a party atmosphere outside the station; one protester was playing a guitar.
The group chanted, “Our passion for freedom is stronger than your prisons,” as they marched in the name of jail solidarity.
Kaylynn Strain came all the way from Des Moines, Iowa, just to support some protesters she doesn’t even know.
“They are occupiers. They participated in the protest,” Strain said, “and when you’re an occupier, every other occupier is your brother or sister.”
Police released one detainee, Gabe Barough of Washington, D.C., at 6:30 a.m. Monday. He was in the middle of the violent clash Sunday on Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road, as protesters tried to break through a wall of police officers and officers pushed back.
Barough said he would have stood back if he had it all to do it again, but “(police) try to wear you down.”
Another man, who covered his face in black and goes by the name “Romania,” was also in police custody until Monday morning.
He said Chicago Police were the aggressors. He conceded that the crowd pushed police officers, but said, “the cops made us do it. We didn’t want to.”
“They basically surrounded us and cornered us,” he said.
Justin Hughes was charged with simple battery. He conceded that the group was trying to defy police.
“That is true. I’m not going to lie. We were trying to break through the front lines of officers at first,” Hughs said. “We were, of course, unsuccessful.”
But Occupy Chicago member Bobby Hines of Chicago, who was charged with reckless conduct, also argued that the police attacked the crowd without provocation.
“It was ridiculous – I mean, just right as we were walking, they started hitting people with their billy clubs. I saw people with their eyes gashed out, you know,” Hines said. “It was basically a misuse of power in my opinion.”
Four officers suffered minor injuries Sunday, the U.S. Secret Service said. A spokesperson with Mercy Hospital said seven protesters were treated and released.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was out in the field watching the whole thing unfold Sunday, and he said the officers showed impressive restraint.
But attorney Sarah Gelsomino of the National Lawyers Guild said she was very concerned, and also argued that the police had attacked and brutalized a peaceful crowd. At least a couple dozen protesters suffered serious injuries at the hands of police officers, Gelsomino alleged.
“Most of those are baton strikes, and most of those are baton strikes to the face and head. They got broken collarbones, a person’s teeth knocked out, a broken nose, stitches to the head,” Gelsomino said.
Police barricaded State, Dearborn and Kinzie streets when the protesters tried to cross the Chicago River. Eventually, they headed it up Milwaukee and North avenues, through the Wicker Park neighborhood, before finally arriving at the police station two miles farther north.
Later in the day, about 500 out-of-town protesters are set to go home Monday night. Buses are leaving at 6 p.m., according to Occupy Chicago.