Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fighting for artist's rights-ongoing struggle of Drew

This ongoing struggle of Drew - an artist guy who simply recorded his arrest on his cellphone - is so important!
why was he arrested? Because he was trying to sell his little $1.00 art patches on State Street (and has in fact been working on the issue of free speech for a long while now) but the prosecution is trying to get him on the grounds that he had no right to record his arrest.
Hearing on Motion to Suppress Audio Evidence
The outcome of this motion will determine if I go to trial on a 1st class felony, one step below attempted murder, 4-15 years in prison, for audio recording my own arrest for selling art for $1 on State Street in Chicago.
In his opening arguments the prosecutor began around 12:30pm by claiming that he should be allowed to bring in evidence from our Youtube video postings and my blog to prove I intended to be arrested for selling art in public. He had a huge digital TV standing ready. He contended somehow that if I intended to be arrested that this would allow the police to violate my real privacy rights to review the contents of my audio recorder without my permission.
If they arrest you for selling art on the train while you have a laptop in your possession, they are not allowed to search your files and e-mails on your laptop for incriminating evidence of other crimes without a search warrant from a judge.
My lawyer, Josh Kutnick, brought the arresting officer to the stand and questioned him. The prosecutor cross examined him. The objections flew back and forth from each in turn and the hearing dragged on. At 2:30 the judge called recess for lunch. During this portion of the hearing it came out that the prosecution not only had the two officers my lawyer wanted to question waiting in another room but three of the four female officers who ticketed me on November 13th. We have the answer from Anita Alvarez to the ACLU suit. The State is making every effort to apply the eavesdropping charge against me. Why does Anita Alvarez and the State hate art in public to this extent? Or is it they want to keep you from attaining your basic rights? It is your First Amendment right to use your cell phone to protect yourself with audio evidence that she is attacking.
Then Josh Kutnick took over. His stated the obvious. The State needs a warrant before searching the recorder or they must forfeited the evidence they found when they violated my privacy rights. He contradicted the points made by the prosecution. He summarized our case and tossed it up to the judge to decide by pointing out that there are unique and interesting aspects to this case to be considered seriously. The Judge smiled and agreed it was interesting and worthy of his study. He gave himself until November 22nd to rule and our hearing was over around 4:00 in the afternoon.
This is more about you than it is about me. It is about your rights. No one came to this hearing in my support. However, it is better that you are watching from the sidelines than not watching at all. Although my lawyer performed to an empty court room we will buy the transcript and post it for the world to read. This case has national implications and international interest.
What can you do? Forward this message or the link to my blog or to my facebook page ( to your friends and tell them about this struggle for their rights. Stay tuned to hear what Judge Stanley Sacks decides on November 22nd. Prepare to attend my trial. That is when I will need your support. Talk with your state reps and senators about changing this eavesdropping law. Everyone should be able to use their cell phones to record what police say to them in public. Contact your US congressman and your senators about H.Con.Res.298 – the sense of Congress resolution that waits in committee for their support. Donate to the Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center which supports the Art Patch Project that helps to educate the public about First Amendment rights. We are the artists who are fighting for your rights. Help us. Thanks again if you have read this far for continuing to make yourself aware. Your voices are powerful.
Moscow Treats its artists better than Chicago. There is not one free open-air art market in Chicago.

The Accidental Poster Child - Courting arrest to protest street-art laws, Chris Drew stumbled into a more serious fight.
Jerry Mead-Lucerno reports for Free Speech Radio News
Press Release: Comment on audio-recording police in public at the T-shirt Art Harvest Fest “Party for Freedom”
NPR Strikes: You can Film Cops, just don't record them!

Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center Website with links to court documents for C Drew's felony case
Chicago Tribune on the ACLU suing Cook County State's Attorney, Anita Alvarez
Tribune editorial by their editorial board in support of our view of the audio-recording of police issue.
Michael Stephen reports on C Drew on 1/6/10 at

The Urban Coaster - Rogers Park Community Newspaper - prints my response to 1st class felony charge.

Nancy Bechtol video: C Drew Answers Eavesdropping Charges

Chicago's Thick Blue Wall - Radley Balko writes for on C Drew's arrest

SunTimes: Felony Charges Charges filed against Artist Activist,peddler-taping-cops-arrest-120309.article
Comments published below - e-mail comments to (for coming exhibit)

Video by Nancy Bechtol showing the arrest of C Drew on 12/2/09. You judge if a felony was committed.

Nancy Bechtol video from Friday November 13th when I challenged
the City and received a ticket to Federal Court

Video: C Drew on Chicago cable TV explaining artists' speech rights with a screen printing demo

* Streetwise article - October 28, 2009

Streetwise Article Goes International

The article appearing in Streetwise October 28th was reprinted on a website with an international audience that serves street newspapers from around the world - the Street News Service.

*The San Francisco Examiner wrote about Chris and the FreeSAM

*We made it in the Reader.*
View the article (link below)

*Good site for artists' rights overview *

Moscow Treats its artists better than Chicago.

Which leads you to New York's precedent setting case - Artists win.

*East Coast Case:* BERY v. CITY OF NEW YORK, 97 F.3d 689 (2nd Cir. 1996)

*West Coast Case:* Perry v. Los Angles Police Dept,, 121 F3d 1368 (9th Cir 1997) Artist wins.

*Nevada Case:* Steven White v. City of Sparks (Nevada) Artist wins.
In /White v. City of Sparks/, painter Steven White challenged the
constitutionality of a city ordinance that required him to obtain a permit
before selling his paintings in public parks.

*Florida law suit won by artist* - Celli v. City of St. Augustine, Florida - decided 2000.
Since this time artists in St. Augustine have continued to fight for their rights against stiff government opposition from big-money interests.

*Weinberg v. City of Chicago*
(when all the National Sports Leagues joined with the City to appeal and lost when the Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal.) Weinberg - the Chicago author - won.

*Berger v. City of Seattle* A federal judge in Seattle ruled in 2005 in favor of a balloon-artist that the Seattle regulations violated the First Amendment, considering that Seattle Center's outdoor space is a public park. A 12-member panel of the appeals court agreed 8-3.

* Santa Monica, California modifies its street performer ordinances to allow the activity to take place on public sidewalks without a permit.

* ACLU sues the City of Fort Lauderdale for a street artist. (more to come)

*NY Artist and Organizer* - Robert Lederman, president of A.R.T.I.S.T.,
or Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics – This Yahoo Groups page links to ten years of messages about all the New York City actions and court cases over the years.

* NYC Street Artist Freedom Videos
Check out these videos about how NYC artists won our rights in NYC see:

* “Free Speech in an Open Society” by Rodney A. Smolla is a great primer toward understanding First Amendment case law. Google it for a great read on the topic.

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