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Chicago artist Chris Drew was arrested for
selling his art. He was then charged with a
felony for audio-recording his own arrest.
Chris says jailings of people who record police
engaged in wrong-doing are increasing around
the country.
Photo/donated

By Christopher Drew, Executive Director Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center

Ninety percent of Americans carry cell phones. The youth of America are skilled in the use of this technology. Even as surveillance cameras are exploding in public, watching our every move, and the police record us regularly, they do not want us to have the same ability to watch them.

Youth and other activists insist on their right to use their tools to capture police wrong doing in public. This is a right legal in 47 states and only audio recording is illegal in two states, Illinois and Massachusetts.

Police are showing they are willing to violate the law to arrest, confiscate cell phones, and beat up the public, charging citizens with made up cover charges to intimidate them from recording their public mistakes, even in the 47 states where video and audio is legal. In California, a teen, Jeremy Marks, was arrested after capturing video of an officer slapping up a classmate waiting at a bus stop in a crowd of students. He was charged with "Attempted Lynching" because one cop said he shouted "kick her ass." That shout was not recorded on the video he was taking, strangely enough. He spent nine months in the county lockup with an outrageous bond of $150,000 until a Google programmer read his case and bailed him out on Christmas eve of 2010.

After videoing police taking down a suspect on New Years 2010 in Orlando, Florida, John Kurtz, a Copwatch activist, informed the officer who told him to quit filming that he knew his rights and wasn't going anywhere. The officer violently took Kurtz to the ground and arrested him. After multiple attempts to deny Kurtz bond, relentless efforts by Kurtz's friends, family, attorney and other privately contracted help, he was released from Orange County Jail after seven days behind bars.

Kurtz's video camera with the evidence on it that would easily clear or condemn him of these charges mysteriously went missing. Kurtz is charged with battery on an officer, obstruction of a police officer, and resisting arrest without violence. He is facing a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

These are a few of the more outrageous examples. Many more abound across our nation.

This trend will continue to grow as the public uses its power to record police in public more. These are the conditions for a growing civil right organizing campaign of major importance.

This is nothing less then a attempt to censor citizens' voices by taking away their right to document their lives and experiences in public so they can't report on police abuse to others or even bring evidence into court to protect themselves from abuse, much less use these documented experiences in their art if they happen to be someone who publishes her/his speech, or a citizen journalist with a blog. As an art organization we are committed to telling the importance of this assault of censorship and of our basic First Amendment rights. We intend to inform the growing movement just how important it is to fight back. In England, citizens have already lost the ability to record police in public. We are next if we continue to sleep while the police press their case with violence and intimidation. This means nothing less than a secret police State! Your voices are powerful.

Chris Drew is presently facing a class 1 felony (4-15 years in state prison) for audio recording his arrest for selling art for $1 on State Street in Chicago while testing the constitutionality of the Chicago peddlers license (a misdemeanor). Contact him at 773-561-7676, 773-678-7545 or by email at umcac@art-teez.org






By Lenette Evans

I have been going to Lions Park Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan, my entire life. I enjoy the beach, watching families having a picnic, walking along the shore, and sitting at the beach reading my Bible, listening to the peaceful sounds of nature and the seagulls. I know others who enjoy taking a walk or sitting on the swings and eating lunch on their lunch break. Local churches have fellowship, prayer, and baptisms at the beach. Also, I have seen a local church musician play his guitar while others are singing.

My Dad is disabled, but my Mom and I take him down to lions Beach to sit. Because the city of St. Joseph and City Manager Frank Walsh, and others, are so money hungry, they now charge locals to sit at the beach for a few minutes. Anyone that wants to get baptised with a church group now has to pay $5. It is horrible to see the destruction that has taken place near the water plant. "No Parking" signs are along the road, a few big billboards and two pay meters at the beach.

This takes away from the natural habitat and tranquility that locals have enjoyed for years. There are some things in St. Joe that need to be LEFT ALONE. Frank Walsh has came up with one bad project after another and locals have to pay for them. First, Walsh took down the beautiful mature trees at Tiscornia and put in a parking meter. People can no longer park along the road at Silver Beach. They are forced to park at the Silver Beach PAID PARKING LOT. Centennial Water Park in the Whirlpool Park, which was supposed to be FREE, is not. The City of St. Joseph put in a parking meter at the end of Lions Park Drive which is patrolled by police officers that have nothing better to do than watch the parking lot and the beach all day so nobody parks in the lot except those using the water park.

To use the Carousel, which is $2 for a few minutes ride, you have to park at another paid parking lot behind the carousel building. And so now.... Frank Walsh and his army of officials which are a group of idiots who have nothing better to do then fill their pockets with money while making "BAD DECISIONS" in this community, now have another $5 paid parking meter.

This is not the way to attract tourists to Berrien County. With Gas prices over $4 a gallon, people out of a job, businesses that have closed, and families whose homes have gone into foreclosures, and many who have no place to live except on the streets, people cannot afford to pay every time they go to the beach. This is not what our city or beaches were built for. 

People in this community our sad and angry at the paid parking meters and what is happening now at Lions Park Beach. We already see the land destruction of the beautiful Jean Klock beach that was turned into the Harbor Shores Golf Course for the rich. Locals cannot afford this. This town is more and more being built around the Chicago people and the rich. Tourists do not see or understand the corruption that goes on in Berrien County.

Frank Walsh should put money towards community programs for our kids. Apply money to areas that need cleaning up and take down the parking meters and stop charging people for every beach and park they go to. Residents of St. Joseph and Berrien County, stand up and make your voices heard to make a difference!

Lenette Evans, Saving Souls Ministry, 269-876-1848, SavingSouls1@yahoo.com






Change cannot occur until the people achieve a vision of the kind of new society that is possible and that they want. In America vision has played a greater role than perhaps in any other country. As we struggle to formulate our vision of a new cooperative America, let us stand on the shoulders of the visionaries of yesteryear. Below we reprint some of their quotes.

Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals . . . This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career. . . I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

—Albert Einstein, From Monthly Review, New York, May, 1949.


“When it shall be said in any country in the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is found among them, my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars, the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive, the rational world is my friend, because I am a friend of its happiness: when these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and its government.”

— Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1792


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