Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Partisan Defense Committee vigorously protests the prosecution of Andy Thayer, a well-known Chicago antiwar activist and co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, who faces bogus felony charges of aggravated battery against a police officer. We say: Drop all charges against Andy Thayer!

On January 7, Mr. Thayer was among 100 protesting against President George W. Bush at the corner of Jackson and Dearborn Streets, during Bush’s meeting with Mayor Richard Daley and businessmen at the Union League Club. Mr. Thayer was one of four protesters holding a large banner that read: “End the War and Occupation!” and “Troops Home NOW!” As Bush and his motorcade drove away, Mr. Thayer was surrounded by cops on horseback, and then arrested. The cops also grabbed three other demonstrators who were holding the banner—Buddy Bell, Kevin Clark and Jeff Pickert. On January 25, Mr. Thayer was indicted by the Cook County grand jury on trumped-up felony charges that carry a possible seven-year sentence.

Mr. Thayer was targeted for arrest as retaliation for his role as an organizer of many large antiwar rallies and marches in Chicago. Mr. Thayer helped spearhead the effort to win the right for antiwar protesters to march on Michigan Avenue, which was strongly opposed by the city police brass. That the full weight of the city government is behind the false prosecution can be seen in the fact that Deputy Chief of Police James Keating is serving as complaining “witness” claiming he was “battered” because Thayer “bumped” him. The witchhunt directed at Mr. Thayer comes as the City is restoring the Red Squad, and in the context of all-sided attacks on civil liberties in the name of the bipartisan “war on terror.”

On April 18, two of the “Bush 4” defendants—Bell and Clark—were acquitted of all misdemeanor charges. Outrageously, Pickert was found guilty of disorderly conduct and sentenced to 30 days’ supervision. Mr. Thayer still faces trial on the bogus felony battery charges.

We vehemently demand that all the charges against Andy Thayer be dropped immediately!

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Donations for Andy Thayer’s legal defense can be sent to: Eighth Day Center for Justice, 205 W. Monroe Street, 5th Floor, Chicago, IL 60606. Make checks payable to Eighth Day Center for Justice, earmarked “Bush 4 Defense.”

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