August 24 -- Chicago In the early evening of Friday, August 23rd, on the sidewalk surrounding the Art Institute, 21 Pro-Life Action League (PLAL) members [14 male, 7 female], brought out their 4-foot high fetus placards to protest the beginning of the Democratic Convention in Chicago. The PLAL contigent was quite a cosmopolitan one, with representatives hailing from California, DC, and New York. PLAL, with Joseph Scheidler at the helm, were met by a group of angry pro-choicers, led by the Chicago chapter of Refuse & Resist. The pro-choicers held the banner "Abortion on Demand And Without Apology" and wore buttons stating "I'm Pro-Choice and I Shoot Back." The two groups stood side-by-side, with only a couple of minor run-ins, in front of the Art Institute for about an hour. PLAL then began their short march to the free Aretha Franklin concert, closely trailed by the pro-choice contingent. Along the march, 20 or more police officers formed a wall to physically separate the two groups. When they finally reached the concert park, PLAL spread along an entire sidewalk. The pro-choice contingent tried to cross the street to directly oppose PLAL, but suddenly another wall of about 20 cops formed in front of them, refusing to let them cross. When queried about First Amendment rights, the police just kept to their rehearsed script: "Until the end of the Convention, this is the place you people have pi cked to protest. Stay on this side of the sidewalk." When asked about whether or not they were going to help defend abortion clinics during the course of the week, the officers remained stonedly silent. Later, when PLAL tried to cross the street, they were met with the same blue wall of authority. They were, however, allowed to cross the street, as long as they stayed off the sidewalk directly adjoining the concert park.
This news alert issued by CounterMedia, a coalition of political
organizations, media groups and individuals dedicated to providing
alternative coverage of the Democratic National Convention and community
struggle in Chicago.
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