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Chris Drew arrested December 2nd, 2009 for selling art in public.
An artist speaking out against an unconstitutional City law is arrested by Chicago Police. Police charge him with a 1st class felony (4-15 years in State prison) for audio-taping his own arrest and send him to Cook County Jail on a $20,000 bond. A car is stopped for traffic violations and the passenger audio-tapes the policeman. The audio recording is aired on the WGN website and written about in the Tribune. The officer is investigated. Why is an outspoken critic on a path to prison and another citizen not charged for the same action?
The Illinois Eavesdropping law is overly broad. It considers every conversation to be private unless everyone within ear shot consents to being audio-recorded, and raises the sentence from a 4th class felony for audio-recording anyone to a 1st class felony for recording a policeman in public while on duty. It is up to the police officers discretion to invoke this draconian charge. Or is it?
In the case of the passenger with her cell phone the officer acknowledged the cell phone and did not charge her with eavesdropping. Maybe he thought he would be nice and take the fall for her? In the artists case he was arrested for selling art in public, not for eavesdropping, but later charged with felony eavesdropping. The States Attorney had to signed off on his charge. What role did the artists history as an activist with the stated goal of making Chicago more friendly to artists play in his 1st class felony charge?
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