"Arrest that man!" The attack on free speech and democracy in Chicago Teachers Union
|Colleagues and friends:
We've got to talk about flexible tactics and lots of other stuff. Last
night should have ended the illusion that a "House Strategy" will survive in the
face of Marilyn Stewart's coup d'etat.
First, some thanks yous: Sharon Schmidt; Bernie Eshoo; Judy Dever; Early
Silbar; Jackie Price Ward; Deborah Lynch; Ken Ledeen; Maureen Callaghan; Ted
Dallas; Jack Moran; Tony Abborreno; Jim Vail; and John Whitfield.
I know I've forgotten some people who were actually part of our fight for
free speech and press last night on the sidewalk, so contact me off list and
I'll keep my list straight.
When two large police officers finally arrived to take me by the elbows and
escort me rather nastily off the "private property" on which CTU was
holding its House of Delegates meeting on the evening of September 9, 2009, for
the crime of selling Substance in front of the building where the meeting was
taking place, all of the above had been helping, in one way or the other, to
make sure our sales were not interrupted.
When we got to the street, the one officer without a badge (Name: Soto;
Station: South Deering) ordered me to stay "on the other side of that Cadillac"
(pointing north up the street) and not to return to try and get in the
meeting. "If you try and come back here, I will arrest you..."
The Cadillac was blocking the second gate that would have allowed easier
entry into the small parking lot at Local 399, IUOE. It wasn't as far away as
the gravel parking lot up the street, but almost.
"But officer, I'm supposed to be in that meeting," I replied, "and I also
have to get my car in that lot."
"Did you hear me, jagoff," he replied. "I said if you don't stop talking
and if you try to come into this area again you will be arrested."
The quip about "jagoff" and a few other noteworthy things were part of the
"Officer, I have to get my car... When?"
"Not before 11:00 tonight," he said.
So from that point until the end of the meeting, I sold Substance out on
the street, beyond the Cadillac. However, prior to that, I had been selling
Substance in front of the building, as usual.
I'm sorry that I was unable to convince others that it was important to
have more people on the sidewalk in front of the building -- at least 30 I'd
suggest -- so that when they do try and "arrest" someone they have to think
There is a lot more detail to what happened yesterday, and we have to
straighten out some things about what to do legally, but there is time, and
patience is as much a virtue at certain points as nimbleness in defense of our
rights is in others.
My biggest mistake last night was assuming that when I talked with 13
different CORE and CSDU people about distribution on the sidewalk (adjacent to
the building) instead of on the street, they understood. Either I was talking
Mandarin, my tone was offensive (it was a tense scene), or people were so
fixated on a pre-arranged plan that they didn't understand completely what was
happening. So they were blindsided by Marilyn Stewart, and I assume that a
few were angry at me for talking so mean.
That doesn't work at certain times.
By the time we all went to bed on the evening of September 8 following the
White Sox debacle, it was clear to many people that the UPC/Stewart decision
to hold the first House of Delegates meeting on the "private property" of
Local 399 IUOE was part of a decision to pre-emptively end democracy in the
Or, what's left of democracy in the CTU.
By the end of September 8, sources had made clear that Marilyn's agenda was
to report to the House of Delegates was to simply report what the executive
board had decided to do and screw the House and every tradition in CTU.
That's called a coup d'etat.
But it didn't begin September 9. It began every day that people sat in the
House of Delegates and allowed Marilyn Stewart's faction to attack Deborah
Lynch every time she took the floor in the House. It continued every day
that people sat in the House of Delegates and allowed Marilyn Stewart to
railroad Ted Dallas out of the union. It continued every day that people allowed
Marilyn Stewart to ignore every "point of order" about a "vote" that was
OK. So we know that.
And now we know what her whole game plan is (if we didn't by now).
Executive Power, ruthlessly enforced.
She's going to cling on to power as long as she can.
Last year, there was no October House meeting. Every subsequent meeting was
a further erosion of democracy.
Now we know the rest of the game plan.
So rather than get angry at what did or did not happen in front of the
offices of Local 399 on September 9, 2009, let's solve the problem — together —
every day from now on.
At each meeting (CORE, Substance, PACT, CSDU, others) are which planning is
being done from now on, let's include dividing our forces so that we never
leave any one of our cadre relatively alone in the face of what happened
And please don't suggest that I "Twitter" or "Text" you when something like
two large cops at escorting me down the sidewalk and off the "private
"Excuse me, officer. Will you stop a minute while I text my friends inside
so they can (maybe) come outside and prevent this attack on our democratic
rights from taking place..."
Sure, that would have worked.
The last thing the cop said to me was:
"You and your people have got your protest area right here..."
Anyone not know what that was referring to contact me off list.
George N. Schmidt
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