The Chicago Tribune threw down the gauntlet this week in the war on dissent — and came in solidly on the side of the billy club and the black-masked police provocateur. In its February 10 op ed piece (http://bit.ly/1f9M2Qr), the paper’s apparatchiks undertake what all good instruments of the jack-boot state do — they reinvented history.
It is simply factually dead wrong for the Tribune to assert that “city officials went to great lengths to facilitate [protesters’] right to assemble” during the May 2012 NATO protests. In fact, protesters had to battle for months for the right to protest — including against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s infamous “sit down and shut up” ordinance. And hundreds of protesters who were kettled and assaulted by police on May 20, 2012 would flatly dispute the Tribune’s characterization of that calculated police violence as ‘turning the other cheek.’
Activists also learned more during the NATO 3 trial about what many had suspected — that Emanuel and police superintendent Garry McCarthy have stewarded the full-bore reinstatement of the city’s infamous Red Squad. Under Emanuel’s and McCarthy’s watch, police squandered untold public dollars to spy on constitutionally protected activity and position undercover cops as agent provocateurs to entrap protesters in ‘crimes’ wholly incited and manufactured by those undercover cops. And that spying has not ended. One of those officers involved in surveilling and infiltrating NATO protest efforts joined a volunteer health care project as a volunteer street medic — and was still spying on activists a year later.
It also bears noting that among the ‘masked agitators, dressed in black’ in the run-up to the NATO meeting were the two undercover officers at the heart of the NATO 3 entrapment: Nadia Chikko and Mehmet Uygun. One would have to be asleep at the switch — or an apologist for state repression — to assume there was not the same sort of police endeavor underway during the protests themselves.
But Judge Thaddeus Wilson adamantly insisted that issues related to First Amendment concerns would not be aired in this trial — in effect, guaranteeing that the police overreach and abuse at the heart of this manufactured case would never be disclosed to the jury and the public.
The Tribune has never asked Emanuel, McCarthy or States Attorney Anita Alvarez how much the investigation, incarceration and trial of the NATO 3 has cost the taxpayers. More broadly, the Tribune has never asked the City of Chicago for an honest accounting of what it cost taxpayers to police the NATO summit in real dollars. That’s a remarkable lapse by a newspaper known for its persistent drumbeat to account for — and cut where possible — public dollars for vital front-line public services that range from public health to public education.
The Tribune’s shrill call to lock up the NATO 3 and throw away the key mirrors a longstanding tradition of the paper’s editorial board. The Tribune invoked the same cry for blood more than 125 years ago in the Haymarket 8 case, when its editors at one point offered to pay jurors for a guilty verdict against those defendants. Four were executed on November 11, 1886.
Today, the Tribune has embraced that same unprincipled extremism — by endorsing police policies that create crimes where none exist and derail the fundamental right to dissent unmolested by police agent provocateurs and law enforcement spies. Totalitarianism is informed by a state strategy to dirty up and derail public opposition to government policy. Anita Alvarez, Rahm Emanual and Garry McCarthy have been happy to embrace this sort of despotism. And the Tribune has cosigned it.