Dangerous Appellate Ruling Makes Us All Criminals for Recording With Cellphones

Posted by admin | Announcement | Wednesday 14 March 2012 5:40 am

The Illinois Appellate Court just denied Gregory Koger’s appeal to reverse his conviction.  It is time to speak out against this outrageous and dangerous ruling!

As you may recall, Gregory was arrested because he used an iPhone to peacefully take pictures of Sunsara Taylor prior to a public event at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) on Sunday. Nov. 1, 2009.  This happened despite the following clearly established facts:

  1. Ms. Taylor and Gregory came to EHSC that Sunday morning so she could make a very brief statement politely protesting the short-notice cancellation of the widely publicized lecture she had been scheduled to give that Sunday morning.  She also was there to inform the people who had come to hear her speak but were unaware of the cancellation that her lecture would take place within minutes at a nearby alternate venue.
  1. Both Gregory and Ms. Taylor were welcomed onto the premises by the president of EHSC and the meeting greeters.  Gregory openly video recorded this as Ms. Taylor’s official videographer.  He had also filmed the day before when Ms. Taylor gave an extremely well-received workshop to a packed house at the same venue!

Gregory and Ms. Taylor were unaware that the president of the EHSC had arranged to pay plainclothes local police officers, who were also marines, to act as private security guards that Sunday morning and presumably do his bidding.  Even though other people were photographing at the same event, Gregory was singled out and told to “stop filming.”

When Gregory put down his large camera and took out his cell phone to catch Ms. Taylor’s final words, the EHSC president ordered the police into action.  The police grabbed Gregory, dragged him out of the lecture hall, beat him up, handcuffed his hands behind his back, pepper sprayed him in the face, and arrested him!

An Illinois Supreme Court ruling says that after someone is informed that he is trespassing, he must be given a “reasonable opportunity to leave the premises.” (People v. Mims, 1972)  The video that Gregory filmed that day proved that he was never told that he was trespassing, never ordered to leave, and never given an opportunity to leave.

Gregory was subsequently charged with trespass, battery, and resisting arrest.  These types of charges are commonly called “cover charges” because they are so often used to cover up police misconduct, such as using excessive force during an arrest.  For a discussion of this read: American Constitution Society Issue Brief “Disorderly (mis)Conduct: The Problem with ‘Contempt of Cop’ Arrests.”

The original police report of the event formed the basis of the charges against Gregory.  In the report, EHSC witnesses and the plainclothes police made statements claiming that Gregory had been warned about trespass and told to leave.  But the video Gregory filmed that Sunday completely refuted those stories in the police report.

The day before trial, Gregory’s lawyer turned over Gregory’s video to the Cook County State’s Attorney who viewed it for the first time.  You would think that a prosecutor would drop the charges when video evidence clearly shows that the charges they had brought against someone for nearly a year were totally false.  Instead, the prosecutor changed the charges against Gregory to try and fit the video.  And the EHSC witnesses and Skokie police changed their statements that were in the original police report to a new set of lies.

Trial Judge Disregards Law and Denies Evidence

At trial, the prosecution repeatedly defined videotaping without permission as equivalent to trespassing.  Gregory’s attorney objected to this definition because that is not the legal description of trespassing in Illinois.  Filming is simply not trespassing.  But Judge Marguerite Quinn denied this highly important objection.

Judge Quinn also did not allow Gregory’s attorney to introduce the original police report as evidence.  This report would have made it very clear that the stories told by key prosecution witnesses at trial were an attempt to match the video and were substantially different than the lies they originally claimed in the report.  For example, the arresting officer claimed in the report that he heard the warning given to Gregory about trespassing.  But because the video revealed that this warning did not happen, the police officer instead testified in court that after Gregory was told to stop filming and had put his camera down, he “whispered” in Gregory’s ear that he would have to stop filming or leave.  Gregory unequivocally states that the whisper never happened.

Judge Marguerite Quinn consistently ruled against Gregory’s attorney’s important motions and objections.  She also incorrectly let the jury believe that telling Gregory to “stop filming or leave” was equivalent to a notice of trespass.

A Vindictive Sentence

At sentencing, Judge Quinn disregarded the numerous witnesses and personal letters testifying to Gregory’s good character.  Instead, she sentenced him to almost the maximum sentence possible and denied him bond while he appealed her sentence, because she claimed he “chose a path of violence” on that Sunday.

There had been no testimony at all during the trial that Gregory had been violent in any way.  In fact, minutes before the trial began, the prosecution reduced the charge of “battery” to “contact of an insulting or provoking nature,” because the prosecutors knew that there was no evidence that Gregory had done anything violent or even slightly disturbing.

Judge Quinn seemed intent on punishing Gregory for crimes he had committed 13 years previously, when he was a homeless juvenile, and for which he served time.  Since then, he completely turned his life around, educated himself in prison, became a paralegal for a Chicago law firm, and dedicated himself to fighting for social justice, which is why so many people testified to his good character during his trial.

State’s Attorney and Appellate Court Misrepresent Trial Record

When Gregory appealed his convictions, the State’s Attorney prosecutors responded by misrepresenting critical testimony.  For example, they claimed that Gregory was told to leave by the EHSC president, but the president actually testified in court that he never told Gregory to leave.

Astoundingly, the Appellate Court claims that the video that was shown several times during Gregory’s trial as “People’s Exhibit 1” cannot be considered as part of the appellate record!  Appellate Judge Aurelia Pucinski, who wrote the order denying Gregory’s appeal, appears to have adopted the prosecution’s misrepresentations and faulty theories about the case in their entirety.  But she never addressed the serious legal questions raised in Gregory’s appeal.

Next Step:  Appeal to Illinois Supreme Court

Gregory and his attorney, Jed Stone, will appeal the decision of the Appellate Court to the next higher court, the Illinois Supreme Court.  Attorney Stone will argue that simply telling Gregory to “stop filming” was a conditional order, leaving open a whole range of permissible actions on Gregory’s part, and cannot be equated with notice of criminal trespass.  Furthermore, he will argue that a person cannot be charged with criminal trespass unless, after receiving unambiguous notice, he is given reasonable time to depart the premises.

If the police can arrest someone for trespass without notice and without affording the person ample opportunity to leave, it opens the door to criminalizing all manner of benign behavior.  “In this case, videotaping becomes a criminal offense,” says Attorney Stone. He believes that such a precedent would enable any sponsor of an event that was advertised as free and open to the public to select certain individuals, for whatever reason, and have them arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

Gregory’s Case Affects Us All

“In an era when cell phones are everywhere, their power to document dissent and reveal the truth of events that powerful people want hidden is changing the world.  This case is setting a precedent that poses a danger for everyone who uses a cellphone at a public event on private property,” says Gregory.  “If you pull out your cellphone, you could be arrested for trespassing.  We cannot allow this chilling ruling to stand.”

Gregory Koger will need your continued support.  You can send him messages of support at adhoc4reason@gmail.com – and let us know if we can use them on the website.  We can certainly use any contributions that you make – lawyers and appeals cost money.  Please send donations to Ad Hoc Committee, 1055 W. Bryn Mawr, #226, Chicago, IL 60660.

We hope you will tell other people what’s happening – because we are all affected by this case.

News Flash

Posted by admin | Announcement | Tuesday 21 February 2012 12:23 am

We learned this week that the Illinois Appellate Court will not be holding oral arguments on Gregory’s appeal. We asked for oral arguments but it’s up to the Court to decide and they notified Gregory’s attorney, Jed Stone, that they are “of the opinion that oral argument is not necessary.” This means that a decision could be issued at any time.

Just to remind our friends and supporters, after serving nearly two months of his unjust and completely unwarranted 300 day sentence, the Appellate Court granted Gregory bond in October 2010 and he was released from jail. In releasing Gregory on appeal bond, the Court acknowledged the fact that he is not a flight risk, that he is not a “danger to the community,” and furthermore that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact “likely to result in reversal or a new trial.”

Since that time, the appeal brief was filed in January 2011, the State’s Attorney responded in August 2011, and Gregory’s attorney replied in late September. This latest notice does not indicate anything as to the content of the Court’s decision. Please stay tuned – we’ll let you know as soon as we do!

The Ad Hoc Committee for Reason

Continuing the Fight for Justice for Gregory in the New Year

Posted by admin | Announcement | Monday 9 January 2012 1:09 pm

As the year ends and a new one is upon us, we wanted to update friends and supporters of Gregory on the struggle to defeat the politically driven prosecution he faces for videotaping a peaceful political statement by Sunsara Taylor with his iPhone at the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago over two years ago.

After serving nearly two months of his unjust and completely unwarranted 300 day sentence, Gregory was granted bond and released from jail. In releasing him on appeal bond, the Court acknowledged the fact that he is not a flight risk, that he is not a “danger to the community,” and furthermore that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact “likely to result in reversal or a new trial.” Gregory was released just in time to attend Jazz for Justice, a benefit for his legal defense featuring jazz musicians Ted Sirota and Fred Lonberg-Holm.

Over the course of this past year we have completed the legal briefing portion of the appeal. Our initial appeal brief was filed in February, and the State received six months of extensions before finally filing their response in August. Our final reply brief was then filed in September, which powerfully and compelling dissects and exposes the political nature of the charges and numerous factual misstatements in the State’s brief before breaking down, point-by-point, the legal errors that contributed to this unjust and unlawful conviction and sentence. At the heart of the legal case is the State’s Attorney’s unprecedented argument that refusing to comply with alleged rules of a property owner equate to trespassing. However, under Illinois law, to be legally guilty of trespass, a person must be ordered to leave by the property owner or the owner’s authorized representative, and must be given time and opportunity to leave.  In fact, during the trial the then-president of EHSC testified under oath that he never asked Gregory to leave before he was grabbed, dragged, and assaulted by the police. If this baseless legal argument is allowed to stand, it has dangerous and chilling implications for the public’s right to document public and newsworthy events. We are now awaiting word from the appellate court as to whether and when oral arguments will be held on the appeal. Read the final brief here.

As part of opposing this prosecution both inside and outside the courtroom, the Ad Hoc Committee for Reason raised funds to publish a statement in the March/April 2011 issue of The Humanist magazine, calling on those in the humanist community to speak out in opposition to this political prosecution and noting some of those who have, such as Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney, PZ Myers and Bill Ayers.

We have also continued to open up discussion and debate around the larger political issues concentrated in the case. In the midst of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and the inspiring swirl of the Arab Spring that presaged the outpouring of dissent in the US, forums were held on the rising wave of political repression in the US that targets those who document dissent, protest and police misconduct – Smart Phones and Dumb Laws: Will Your Cellphone Make You A Criminal? Our February Smart Phones and Dumb Laws event was held just after the Egyptian people in Tahrir Square inspired the world. The panel included Gregory and Chris Drew, along with his civil rights lawyer Mark Weinberg. Chris Drew is an artist and activist who is facing up to 15 years in prison under Illinois’ egregious “eavesdropping” law for audio recording his own arrest while selling a $1 piece of art on the streets in an attempt to challenge Chicago’s peddling ordinance.

In November we held another Smart Phones and Dumb Laws event at DePaul University College of Law, after thousands of people occupied spaces across the country and faced police brutality and repression for peaceful political protest (including numerous journalists being arrested and brutalized, which has been documented by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press – see Some journalists still facing charges after Occupy arrests). Gregory and his lawyer Jed Stone were joined by Chris Drew, Mark Weinberg, and Robert Johnson, Chicago civil rights attorney who successfully defended Tiawanda Moore from felony eavesdropping charges. Ms. Moore was prosecuted for audio recording Chicago police on her cellphone as she attempted to have a Chicago police officer investigated who sexually accosted her. Adam Schwartz of the Illinois ACLU also spoke about their federal lawsuit against Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez challenging the eavesdropping law, which recently had oral arguments at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Both forums were broadcast on CAN-TV, the Chicago local access television network.

Since his release from Cook County Jail on appeal bond, Gregory has continued to speak out about his case and other injustices and crimes of this system. In May, he was invited by students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to be the guest speaker at their Prison Arts Fest, which featured artwork from prisoners in Illinois.

When thousands of prisoners in over one-third of California’s prisons went on hunger strike to oppose the inhumane conditions of torture that many face in isolation in California’s “Security Housing Units” (SHUs), he published a statement and articles in support of the prisoners and he organized a Forum on the California Prison Hunger Strike and Torture in U.S. Prisons in August that was reported on in Revolution newspaper (Correspondence from a reader who took part in organizing a Forum on the California Prison Hunger Strike & Torture in U.S. Prisons)

Gregory has also spoken in university and high school classes in Chicago about torture in U.S. prisons, mass incarceration and police brutality, while organizing for the October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Read a report on the Chicago O22 action here.

On the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Gregory produced a video with his friend Anthony Wagner, Iraq veteran who was very active in opposing the wars and stopping youth from joining the military, who tragically died on November 3, 2011, just hours after marching on Wall Street with other veterans in support of Scott Olsen, who was shot in the head with a tear gas canister by police at Occupy Oakland. After Anthony’s tragic death, Gregory produced a video of a We Are Not Your Soldiers teach-in at Occupy Chicago that Anthony organized, where Anthony’s brother and mother spoke out against the war and its horrific effects.

Much has been accomplished this past year! Thanks to the support from many people, appeal bond was won and Gregory has been able to be a part of all of this work that his life is dedicated to – work he would not be able to do if he was sitting in a jail cell as the Skokie judges, Cook County State’s Attorney, and the “Ethical” Humanist Society of Chicago want. Defeating these ongoing charges is vitally important not only to his life and his work, but for everyone who opposes injustice. We will continue to fight to overturn this unjust political prosecution and link up with others facing political repression in the coming year.

Smart Phones & Dumb Laws – November 9, 2011

Posted by admin | Announcement | Wednesday 26 October 2011 11:39 pm

Smart Phones & Dumb Laws Will Your Cellphone Make You a Criminal? Wednesday, November 9 – 6 PM DePaul University Law School, 1 East Jackson, Rm. 241 Lewis A Forum On The Rising Wave Of Repression Against  People Who Document Dissent And Police Misconduct In Illinois, it is a major criminal offense to use a cell phone to audio record the police - EVEN IN A PUBLIC SPACE!  You can be sentenced to 15 years in prison!  Only 1 other state makes this a crime.  Why does Illinois have this dumb law?  Why does our police force want to conceal its actions? Cell phones give everyday people amazing power to document injustices, protests, and misconduct by police and officials.  Look how important they were to ordinary citizens across North Africa and the Middle East who used this technology during the Arab Spring to record and share the truth of their lives and their uprisings.  But in our country, police and prosecutors are taking increasingly repressive steps to stop this use of smart phones by arresting people who record events, even when it’s perfectly legal. Meet with a panel of notable legal experts to get the facts: Robert Johnson successfully represented Tiawanda Moore, who faced felony eavesdropping charges for audiotaping police as she attempted to have an officer investigated who sexually accosted her.  Mr. Johnson is a partner at the Chicago civil rights firm of Smith, Johnson & Antholt, LLC. (www.lawsja.com). Jed Stone, a criminal defense lawyer from Waukegan, Illinois, is a fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers who has been recognized as a Leading Lawyer in criminal trial defense and criminal appeals. He has appeared regularly on the Chicago Lawyer’s list of top criminal defense lawyers. Mr. Stone represents Gregory Koger, who is appealing misdemeanor convictions stemming from videotaping a peaceful statement at a public meeting of the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (www.dropthecharges.net). Mark Weinberg, a civil rights attorney in Chicago, represents Chris Drew, who faces felony eavesdropping charges for audiotaping his own arrest as he challenged Chicago’s restrictions on artists selling their works on public streets (www.art-teez.org).  For more information: adhoc4reason@gmail.com • depaul.nlg@gmail.com • (773) 629-0572  Sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, DePaul University College of Law and Chicago-Kent College of Law Chapters of the National Lawyers Guild, Ad Hoc Committee for Reason, Chicago Women’s Caucus for Art, and the Chicago Chapter of World Can’t Wait. (We are currently applying for 1 CLE credit.)

Update on Gregory’s Appeal – Reply Brief Filed, Awaiting Oral Argument

Posted by admin | Announcement | Tuesday 25 October 2011 8:04 pm

Friends & Supporters,

Jed Stone, Eric Shah, Gregory and his legal team recently wrapped up work on a powerful Reply Brief. The opening paragraphs capture the significance of the battle to overturn the false charges against Gregory for videotaping Sunsara Taylor’s statement with his iPhone nearly 2 years ago:

Across North Africa and the Middle East, during what became known as the “Arab Spring,” ordinary citizens, using cell phones and video cameras, preserve the truth about the events that unfolded before them.  Here, in the United States, we have a tradition of protecting those of us who seek to gather, record and preserve information about public events.

The prosecution of Gregory Koger was initiated because he used a cell phone camera to capture and record the words of Sunsara Taylor, and preserved on video her treatment by the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (hereinafter, “EHSC”) and Skokie police officers present at an open meeting at the EHSC.  It is clear that others photographed the events of the EHSC that Sunday morning…  No one other than Gregory Koger was told to stop taping or photographing.  It is equally clear that capturing Ms. Taylor’s statement about her censorship by EHSC (and the police reaction to it) was constitutionally protected.

This ill-conceived arrest and prosecution was made worse by the prosecution’s confounding of law of trespass, incorrectly telling the trial court and jury that Mr. Koger’s continued taping constituted a trespass.

Gregory’s Reply Brief goes on to expose numerous factual misstatements in the State’s brief before breaking down, point-by-point, the legal errors that contributed to Gregory’s unjust and unlawful conviction and sentence of 300 days in jail. It also highlights how an important recent case regarding the right to document newsworthy events and the actions of police, Glik v. Cunniffe, relates to Gregory’s prosecution:

“As the Supreme Court has observed, ‘the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.’…  An important corollary to this interest in protecting the stock of public information is that ‘[t]here is an undoubted right to gather news “from any source by means within the law”… The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press… Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.”  Glik v. Cunniffe, 2011 WL 3769092, (1st Cir.), August 26, 2011.

The arrest and prosecution of Gregory Koger were born out of the Ethical Humanist Society’s attempt to prevent Mr. Koger from documenting Sunsara Taylor’s peaceful statement opposing their censorship of her speech.  The involvement of Skokie Police and the misuse of the criminal trespass statute to further this aim have grave implications for the public’s right to document public events.

We hope you’ll take a moment to read the Reply Brief – you can download it here. The filing of the defense Reply Brief concludes the briefing portion of the appeal. We’re now awaiting a decision from the appellate court as to whether they are going to grant oral argument on the appeal. We’ll keep you posted! Gregory sends his deepest thanks for all of your support and the Ad Hoc Committee urges you to continue to publicize this case and demand his unjust conviction be overturned!

Update for Gregory Koger’s Supporters

Posted by Ad Hoc Committee for Reason and Dropping the Charges | Announcement | Friday 26 August 2011 7:08 pm

Over the last two years, many of you have supported Gregory Koger both emotionally and financially while he has defended himself from a vindictive prosecution spearheaded by the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago.  The Ad Hoc Committee for Reason, formed to help with Gregory’s defense, wants to update you on the status of his case.

You’ll recall that Gregory was arrested in November, 2009 at the EHSC where he was peacefully video-recording Sunsara Taylor as she made a very brief statement before the Sunday meeting began.  He was charged with three misdemeanors: trespassing, simple battery, and resisting arrest.  These are often called “cover charges” because they are frequently used by police to cover up their own misconduct.  In August 2010, Gregory was convicted of all three charges in a trial that was loaded with judicial and prosecutorial bias against him.

Despite many letters of support and personal testimony in Gregory’s favor, Judge Marguerite Quinn sentenced Gregory to 300 days in Cook County jail. Misdemeanor convictions generally receive either no jail time or very little.  Despite the fact that Gregory’s lawyer asked for bail while his case was appealed, Judge Quinn refused to grant bail, which is also unusual in misdemeanor cases, and she sent Gregory directly to Cook County jail.

After being jailed for two months, the Illinois Appellate Court granted Gregory bail, in spite of the State’s Attorney’s opposition.  Gregory’s next step was to file a written appeal.  Before preparing his appeal, Gregory had to pay for the costly official transcript of his trial.  Many of you helped raise money for Gregory’s lawyers and for the transcript.  Once the appeal brief was filed, the State’s Attorney’s officereceived several time extensions to file its rebuttal.

A few weeks ago, the State’s Attorney’s office finally filed its rebuttal.  Gregory and his lawyers were surprised to discover that this rebuttal is replete with errors and appalling misrepresentations of fact. Following are a few examples of the prosecution’s misrepresentations, which could certainly be expected to improperly bias the Appellate Court judges against Gregory as they review his appeal:

1.    The State’s Attorney continues to erroneously equate being asked to stop videotaping withtrespass.  Gregory’s attorneys objected to this misstatement of the law throughout the trial and in their appeal brief.  To be legally guilty of trespass, a person must be ordered to leave by the property owner or the owner’s authorized representative, and must be given time and opportunity to leave.  In fact, the then-president of EHSC testified under oath that he never asked Gregory to leave before he was grabbed, dragged, and assaulted by the police.

2.     The State’s Attorney claims that Gregory and Sunsara Taylor arrived just one minute before the EHSC program was set to start, apparently in an effort to make it appear to the Appellate Court as if Gregory and Ms. Taylor wanted to disrupt the program.  But, there was no such testimony; in fact, several witnesses testified that the pair entered EHSC at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start of the program.

3.    The State’s Attorney’s rebuttal falsely claims that an ex-EHSC board member testified that Ms. Taylor was never actually invited to speak on the Sunday when Gregory was arrested.   Actually, this board member testified under oath that Ms. Taylor WAS invited, and that an announcement of her talk was published, and widely distributed, in the EHSC newsletter.

4.    The State’s Attorney’s rebuttal claims that the former president of EHSC testified that he told Gregory to leave on the fateful morning.  In fact, as mentioned above, the court record shows he actually stated that he did NOT tell Gregory to leave.

In the next few weeks, Gregory and his attorneys will prepare a reply to the State’s Attorney’s rebuttal that points out these misrepresentations.  We hope that the Appellate Court judges will see the contradictions between the actual court record and the prosecutors’ misrepresentations of fact and law, and that they will wisely conclude that Gregory’s conviction should be overturned.

Your support for Gregory’s defense has been invaluable, and we are all very grateful to you.

Forum on the California Prison Hunger Strike & Torture in U.S. Prisons

Posted by admin | Announcement | Saturday 30 July 2011 5:45 pm

The Ad Hoc Committee wants to let our friends and supporters know that Gregory will be moderating this important discussion:

Forum on the California Prison Hunger Strike & Torture in U.S. Prisons

Thursday, August 4 at 7pm
Grace Place, 637 S Dearborn Street, Chicago

Beginning on July 1, 2011, hundreds of prisoners in California’s Pelican Bay SHU (“Security Housing Unit”) began a historic hunger strike to demand an end to long-term solitary confinement, which constitutes torture under international law, and other demands to end the cruel and inhumane treatment they suffer under. The hunger strike rapidly spread to over 6,500 prisoners in over one-third of California’s prisons, making their heroic stand the most significant prisoner-led resistance in the U.S. in decades. After going without food for 20 days, the prisoners at Pelican Bay ended their hunger strike, with a call to people on the outside to continue the struggle against torture in U.S. prisons and to ensure their demands are met and that they are not retaliated against for their peaceful political protest. As of Friday, July 22, California prison administrators reported hundreds of prisoners at California’s Corcoran SHU remained on hunger strike, and families reported as of July 26 that prisoners at Corcoran continued to refuse food. The prisoner’s demands and more details are available here.

The use of long-term isolation pervades the U.S. prison system, with tens of thousands of prisoners held in conditions that violate international standards against torture. Join us for a discussion of the courageous stand taken by thousands of prisoners across California and the widespread, systematic use of long-term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons – including in Illinois, the effects of torture on its survivors and what people of conscience can do.

The courageous actions of the prisoners in California risking their lives on hunger strike have dragged the hidden humanitarian crisis that is the pervasive use of long-term isolation in U.S. prisons into the light – anyone concerned about human rights must be part of this discussion.

Panelists include:

Dr. Antonio Martinez, a psychologist with the Institute for Survivors of Human Rights Abuses and co-founder of the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture. Dr. Martinez has lectured about the trauma and consequences of torture and abuse throughout the world.

Alan Mills, Legal Director of the Uptown People’s Law Center. The People’s Law Center has has been engaged in litigation to change conditions at Tamms, Illinois supermax prison, since the day it opened.

Stephen F. Eisenman is Professor of Art History at Northwestern University.  He is the author of (among other books) Gauguin’s Skirt (1997) and The Abu Ghraib Effect (2007).  He is also a prison reform activist with Tamms Year Ten, and regularly publishes his criticisms of the “penal state” in The Chicago Sun Times and Monthly Review. Prof. Eisenman is currently completing a book entitled Meat Modernism concerned with the image of animals in Western Art from the mid 18th Century until today.

Laurie Jo Reynolds is the organizer of Tamms Year Ten, the grassroots campaign to end the use of long-term isolation at Tamms supermax prison in Southern Illinois. TY10 was launched in 2008, at the ten-year anniversary of the opening of the prison, with the strategy of pushing for reform through public education, media attention, and legislative oversight. TY10 mounted more than 50 educational, artistic and cultural events about the use of isolation and segregation in Illinois prisons, and pulled together a coalition of concerned citizens, faith groups, mental health advocates, law and public policy clinics, prison reformers, and human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in London. Reynolds is currently a Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow.

Moderated by Gregory Koger, social justice activist who as a youth spent over six years straight in solitary confinement in prison in Illinois.

Sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of World Can’t Wait and Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund

Endorsed by the Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild

Smart Phones and Dumb Laws on Chicago CAN TV – Sunday March 13 at 9AM

Posted by admin | Announcement | Tuesday 8 March 2011 2:10 pm
Smart Phones and Dumb Laws:
Will Your Cell Phone Make You a Criminal?
Chris Drew and Gregory Koger, both arrested for recording public acts of political protest, are joined by their lawyers to discuss the steps being taken to counteract the growing ability to document police misconduct, political acts, and newsworthy events.
Sunday, March 13 at 9:00 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 40 min


Some of the airdates:

Sunday, March 13th, 9:00 AM, Channel 21

Thursday, March 17th, 8:00 AM, Channel 19

Friday, March 25th, 2:00 PM, Channel 21

Statement in support of Gregory in published as an ad in The Humanist magazine

Posted by admin | Announcement | Friday 18 February 2011 12:05 pm

Humanists for the Ethical Treatment of Gregory Koger published as an ad the following statement in the March/April 2011 issue of The Humanist magazine:

Humanists for the Ethical Treatment of Gregory Koger

Feb. 18th – Smart Phones and Dumb Laws: Will Your Cellphone Make You A Criminal?

Posted by admin | Announcement | Tuesday 25 January 2011 9:06 am

Smart Phones and Dumb Laws:  Will Your Cell Phone Make You A Criminal?   The Rising Wave of Repression Against Documenting Dissent and Police Misconduct  Friday, February 18, 2011 at 7pm Tom Robinson Gallery — 2416 W. North Ave., Chicago As cellphone video recording becomes easier and more popular, police and prosecutors are taking increasingly repressive steps to counteract the ability of everyday people — as well as independent and citizen journalists — to document police misconduct, political protest, and newsworthy events. Are you in danger of arrest, even a felony conviction, for pulling your cellphone out in public places to record the police, acts of political protest, or newsworthy events? Come and learn how you can take a stand for our rights — and help make law enforcement accountable. Join us for a forum with Gregory Koger, Chris Drew and their attorneys, Jed Stone and Mark Weinberg. Both Gregory and Chris have been arrested for recording public acts of political protest.   Gregory Koger was arrested and sentenced to 300 days in jail for recording a speaker making a political statement with his cellphone before a public event at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago. He is currently out of jail on appeal bond after serving nearly 2 months of his sentence and continuing the legal battle by appealing his conviction. See his defense committee's website for more information.  Chris Drew has been accused of a felony crime for using an audio-recorder while being arrested for selling art for $1 on a public street. His story was featured in The New York Times on Jan 23. He faces up to 14 years in jail and is set to go to trial on in early April. See his website for more information.

Read The New York Times article on Chris’ case and check out his website for more information.

Sponsored by:
Chicago Women’s Caucus for Art
The Ad Hoc Committee for Reason
World Can’t Wait — Chicago & Evanston Chapters

Endorsed by:
Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism

Neighbors for Peace

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