image of cameraman being arrested 
by cops

Chicago Clinic Defense Confrontation

CounterMedia cameraman being arrested.
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"Chicago Clinic Defense Confrontation"
Chicago's Far West Side, August 27, 1996
Jay Sand

They received the call at about quarter after seven.  Approximately
twenty-five attendees of Active Resistance, an anarchist
counter-convention occurring during the Chicago Democratic National
Convention, had already convened at a health clinic at seven this morning
on the 2800 block of Western Avenue to protect it from a rumored raid by
Operation Rescue.  A substantial amount of national O.R. leadership had
converged on Chicago to rankle pro-choice Democrats by blockading clinic
entrance to prevent women from receiving abortions (as well as all other
health information and care that the clinics offer); defenders feared a
substantial raid on one of the Western Avenue clinics and gathered early
in the morning to confront the "anti's" on Western. 

At quarter after seven, however, an AR participant and clinic defense
coordinator got word via cellular phone that Operation Rescue had sent a
press release to the Chicago media declaring their target: the A.C.T.
health center on 47th and Division.  The defenders hurriedly piled into
automobiles and sped to the scene of the clinic -- a working class
African-American neighborhood far on the West Side.  The surveillance
worked: defenders arrived at A.C.T., a local clinic that provides several
health services including gynecological counseling and abortion
procedures, just minutes before O.R.  The police showed almost immediately
afterward and warned clinic defenders that they would not allow them to
blockade the door or harass the other side.  "We don't do that," said one
female defender.  "That's not us."  The officer smirked, as if he had had
a wealth of unhealthy experience with progressives -- "Oh yes it is," he

Operation Rescue arrived minutes later.  Members soon made their presence
known by swarming the clinic to force their bodies onto the door. 
Defenders linked arms to repel them.  O.R. members sat in front of the
pro-choicers and shoved their way through the wall of bodies to place
their own flesh in front of the clinic door.  Chicago police arrived in
droves and surrounded the demonstrators, demanding an immediate cessation
of the physical confrontation.  Meanwhile, three "anti's" planted
themselves at the clinic's rear door and began to pray for the souls of
the demonstrators.  Police separated defenders from the pro-lifers and
eventually forced the defenders to the sidewalk ; by 8:30 O.R. controlled
all access to the clinic.  While their fellows blockaded the entrance,
other O.R. members prayed, quoted bible verses and accosted clinic workers
who were trying to gain access to the clinic. 

Despite federal legislation that explicitly states that one may not block
the entrance of a health clinic, police refused to arrest O.R. or ask the
organization to leave.  The situation remained the same for more than an
hour as defenders pleaded with police to do their duty.  "If you won't
arrest them give us the badges and we will!" one defender cried.  O.R.
also approached women attempting to enter the clinic for health services;
they did not know whether or not these women were going to the clinic for
an abortion. 

After more than an hour and a half of such wrangling the manager of the
clinic agreed to cancel today's appointments if the demonstrators would
desist.  O.R. accepted this condition as a victory.  "There will be no
babies killed here today!" one of the O.R. leaders cried triumphantly. 
O.R. members then retreated to a position across the parking lot from the
clinic.  Police forced pro-choicers onto the other side of the lot. 

At about 10 o'clock, soon after police arrested one pro-choicer for
assaulting a pro-lifer by pulling the camera from around his neck during a
physical confrontation, Countermedia videographer Eddy Nix moved to the
"anti" side of the parking lot to conduct interviews.  One of his intended
subjects indicated to police that he was a trouble-maker.  Unquestioning,
the police asked Nix to leave.  "I'm press," he said, producing his media
pass for the officer.  The policeman considered the pass and, at the
urging of the antis, deemed that Nix's pass was not legitimate.  He again
told Nix that he had to leave.  (Police did not check the credentials of
other journalists who were dressed interviewing antis in the same
vicinity.) When Nix, a long-time guerrilla videographer, refused to accept
the illegitimacy of his media standing, police told him that he was under
arrest, grabbed him by the arm and pulled his camera from his hands. 
Several policemen then descended upon Nix and carried him forcefully to
the paddy wagon.  When clinic defenders grabbed for Nix's camera to
prevent the police from confiscating it, the officer who held it gruffly
declared it prisoner's property.  Police charged Nix with disorderly
conduct and released him on his own recognizance forty-five minutes later. 

(Look at a video screen capture of Eddy Nix's arrest on the main page of
the Countermedia home page at  - Jay Sand,
Countermedia print person, is the fellow scrawling notes vigorously in the

At around 11am, more than three hours after their siege had begun, members
of Operation Rescue left the scene.  They had succeeded in blockading and
shutting down the A.C.T. clinic and had experienced no arrests. 
Alternately, a clinic defender and a member of Countermedia were in jail. 

A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department Office of News Affairs
refused to comment about the police officers' passive response to the
activities of Operation Rescue.  After being questioned, the officer would
only state "we're damned if we do and damned if we don't."

Related Material: Press Conference on Increased Police Harassment & Surveillance

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