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May 10, 16

Chicago May Day Report Back

Submitted to It’s Going Down

On May 1st, around 50 people showed up to a demonstration in Chicago organized by Chicago Anarchist Black Cross. The march started in Douglas Park on Chicago’s west side and took the streets headed northeast towards downtown. Along the way, the march passed the youth detention center and made some noise for those locked inside. They were met with loud banging on the windows from those locked up inside.

Unfortunately, due to police presence gaining numbers, the march had to move on quickly and continue heading towards downtown. As the march moved onward toward the downtown business district, the police presence increased significantly (what a surprise!). Upon reaching the downtown area, the march stopped to do a noise demo in front of the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Those inside banged on the windows and flashed the lights in their cells for almost 20 minutes in response. After showing their solidarity with those locked inside the federal prison, the march decided to keep moving. Seeing the increased police presence, it was decided that it may be best to go meet with a larger march which was rallying in front of Trump Tower. Unfortunately, the march never made it there.

Soon after leaving the Metropolitan Correctional Center and being pushed on the sidewalk, police kettled the march and violently arrested 19 individuals. Police injured a number of people, with one person even being sent to the hospital. All were charged with misdemeanors for obstruction of justice and one was charged with a felony for destruction of government property. All individuals charged with misdemeanors were released later that night and are currently awaiting trial.

After being held for almost 48 hours, the individual charged with a felony appeared at bond court and was given a ridiculous $100,000 bond with an electronic monitor. At the time of writing, the individual charged with a felony was awaiting release from house arrest after posting the $10,000 needed for bond. Thank you to the Chicago Community Bond Fund for all their help with fundraising to make that possible!

While the march was violently attacked by the Chicago Police, it did not take away from the purpose of the march. The marchers effectively showed their solidarity with those behind prison walls, reclaimed the streets, and made their presence known in the city where it all began. In addition, when it came time to support those who were arrested, people really came together in a beautiful way. While there were successes in some areas, we were also left with a lot of questions.

How can we be better prepared to defend ourselves in the streets? Knowing that Chicago police are notoriously violent and oppressive, how does that figure into our overall tactical strategy? Are we better off joining in with larger liberal marches rather than being brutally attacked on our own terms? Many of these things could have been addressed by having better communication before taking to the streets. Moving forward, it’s important we communicate our strategies with one another prior to actions taking place and that we help one another learn how to use the tools at our disposal to defend ourselves. By doing so, we can increase our safety in the streets and defend against the snatch and grab tactics of the police.

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