Saturday, April 4, 2020

Artist Faces 15 Years In Prison for Recording His Own Arrest

All artist Chris Drew wanted was to sell his art on the streets of Chicago. Cops gave him a hard time, citing city ordinances. Drew decided to fight back and protest the city ordinance, and armed himself with an attorney and video cameras to record his arrest. Unbeknownst to Drew, Illinois has a law (Illinois Eavesdropping Act) that makes recording cops in public punishable with a prison term of up to 15 years.

The ACLU has gotten involved, citing unfairness. The Chicago Police have been expanding their recordings of ordinary civilians, with blue-light cameras and cameras in patrol cars. The justification for these recordings is that what happens in public is public, and there should be no expectation of privacy. What’s fair should be fair, right?

Drew will go to trial on April 4 for the felony charge against him. “We filed two motions to dismiss, but they were both denied,” said his lawyer, Mark Weinberg.

More via The Huffington Post.


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  • Thank you for publicizing my case. This case on the surface appears to have nothing to do with art. It does.

    I spent 4 years blogging about my experiences setting up, printing in the Loop of Chicago, giving away art patches I printed, proving that there are many-many locations where artists can sit and sell their art without disturbing the foot traffic in those locations. This was dangerous to the downtown interests that don’t want artists to have their full First Amendment rights to sell art in the Loop because it strikes at the rational the City uses when it goes into Federal Court against challenges to its peddlers license and other laws that limit artists’ right to sell downtown. They knew I had a creditable legal threat to their legal limitations on our rights.

    They used this unconstitutional eavesdropping law to attempt to silence me once I tried to test the peddlers license law. This is an attempt to censor me on several levels. It has distracted me from my original law suit. It has distracted me from the issue of the peddlers license. It has directed my legal support to fighting the class 1 felony. It has changed the issue from artists’ rights to citizen’s rights.

    It will fail because it has also given me a megaphone to amplify my voice on both issues. Eventually, my enhanced team will return with renewed vigor to the peddlers license and the other City policies that limit artists in Chicago.

    Thanks again for your aid in this movement to change the face of Chicago by allowing artists their right to appear and sell in public.

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