Police Escalate Harassment of Independent Reporters, Activists

Freelancers, organizers charge pattern of intimidation and arrests intensifies

For Immediate Release
Thursday,  August 29, 1996

Police Escalate Harassment of Independent Reporters, Activists

Freelancers, organizers charge pattern of intimidation and arrests

Independent media reporters from CounterMedia convened a press conference
at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 29, at CounterMedia's offices in
Teamsters' City, 1638 W. Van Buren, to discuss the arrest and police
harassment of independent reporters and activists during the Democratic
National Convention in Chicago. 

On Wednesday evening, Chicago police stormed a media van occupied by
stringers with CounterMedia, and moments later pulled them over again and
illegally searched the van, threatening to ticket and arrest the driver
and passengers for "not wearing seat belts." At the time, the freelancers
were attempting to disembark and shoot tape of the Cash the Check
demonstration at Damen and Washington. 

Two cameramen, both members of the CounterMedia collective, have been
arrested in the last 48 hours in two separate incidents while covering
demonstrations around the DNC. One reporter, Edmund Nix, was arrested
Tuesday morning while shooting tape at a west side women's health clinic
during an Operation Rescue demonstration. Another, Jeff Perlstein, was
arrested near the United Center Tuesday evening when he attempted to
interview Henry Horner residents about residents' experience with the

Police have also repeatedly harassed members of Active Resistance, a
progressive group which is holding counter-convention activities in
Chicago during the convention. AR members say police have "visited" their
activity site at least nine times in the last three days, have posted
off-duty police officers near their space who have verbally harassed AR
members and made obscene gestures at them, and have pulled over and
attempted to intimidate AR conference attendees. 

"I suppose we should expect this kind of behavior," says one CounterMedia
volunteer. "After all, it's hard to expect these guys not to revert to
true form, even though their superiors have mandated them to their `best
behavior' during the convention. But this kind of police activity has a
chilling affect on first amendment rights, and it needs to stop. We're
very concerned about this pattern of harassment and intimidation,
especially given the reputation of the department for brutality." 

Perlstein, of Seattle, was arrested around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday evening, for
disorderly conduct. Police claimed he had "crossed the line" without
credentials just outside of the gate at the United Center's Lot E, the
city's designated protest pit on Madison Street. Perlstein says the police
ordered him off the sidewalk fronting the Lot E gate in an attempt to
break up his taped interview of two children who live in the Henry Horner
housing complex. Perlstein was on Madison St. awaiting the arrival of
marchers from the Not on the Guest List! Coalition protest. When Perlstein
stated to the officers that he had a legal, first amendment right to be on
the sidewalk and tape local residents, he was put in handcuffs and taken
to Precinct 13, at 937 N.  Wood. He was released on $75 bond at 1:10 a.m.
Wednesday morning. 

Earlier Tuesday morning, police arrested Edmund Nix of LaCrosse,
Wisconsin, another CounterMedia video freelancer, at a clinic defense
action at the A.C.T. Medical Center at 5714 W. Division. The clinic, which
offers an array of health services including gynecological counseling and
abortion procedures, was being blockaded by members of Operation Rescue.
At about 10 o'clock, shortly after police arrested one pro-choice
demonstrator, CounterMedia videographer Eddy Nix attempted to interview OR
members after one pro-life demonstrator indicated to police that he should
be removed. Police told Nix to leave, and when he produced his press pass,
Nix was arrested and police confiscated his video camera. Nix was charged
with disorderly conduct and released under his own recognizance forty-five
wminutes later.

Video tape of the incidents will be available at the press conference, and
photos of the police actions are being posted up to the CounterMedia web

See Related: Image Archives: Cops Searching CounterMedia and CounterMedia Van
Clinic Defense Hit - CounterMedia videographer arrested
CounterMedia calls Press Conference

This news alert issued by CounterMedia, a coalition of political organizations, media groups and individuals dedicated to providing alternative coverage of the Democratic Convention and community struggle in Chicago.

main office 312-243-8342
CounterMedia Newsdesk 243-8367
Voice Mail 312-670-9673
Email xmediax@ripco.com
Web page http://www.cpsr.cs.uchicago.edu/countermedia/