photo and indie film features true story: “Free Speech & the Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew, Street Artist” (99 min) by Nancy Bechtol–Released/premiered 2014 at Logan Theatre, Chicago
this is excerpted from the Wikipedia Article:
Alvarez had prosecuted individuals under the Eavesdropping Act for recording police in public. Chris Drew recorded his non-violent arrest for street peddling of art. The peddling charge was dropped and Alvarez pursued the much harsher charge of recording police officers voice’s without their permission. This charge could have a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. Criminal Courts Judge Stanley Sacks dismissed the case on 2 March 2012, stating that the eavesdropping law was unconstitutional and that it was too broad and criminalized innocent behavior. Alvarez announced that she would appeal the ruling. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois successfully sued Anita Alvarez and she was ordered to stop prosecuting the ACLU employees and their agents under the Illinois Eavesdropping Act. Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled that the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, 720 ILCS 5/14, violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution when used as a method to prevent the open recording of law enforcement’s audible communications in public places while performing official duties, or the communications of others that are incidentally captured. It was ruled that Cook County would have to pay the legal fees of the ACLU which amounted to $645,549.
Mike Stephen meets up with Chic-a-Go-Go host Miss Mia Park in honor of the taping the 1000th episode of her wildly successful CAN-TV dance show, talks with local filmmaker Nancy Bechtol about the new Illinois eavesdropping law and her documentary Free Speech &the Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew, Street Artist, and checks in with Aldertrack co-creator Mike Fourcher about how the Chicago aldermanic races are shaping up. This week’s local music is provided by Minor Characters.
OTL #433: Chic-a-Go-Go’s 1,000th episode, Illinois’ new eavesdropping law, Aldertrack’s latest local election preview
by Outside the Loop
Mike Stephen meets up with Chic-a-Go-Go host Miss Mia Park in honor of the taping the 1000th episode of her wildly successful CAN-TV dance show, talks with local filmmaker Nancy Bechtol about the new Illinois eavesdropping law and her documentary Free Speech &the Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew, Street Artist, and checks in with Aldertrack co-creator Mike Fourcher about how the Chicago aldermanic races are shaping […]
Outside the Loop | February 1, 2015 at 7:22 AM | Tags: Aldertrack, CAN TV, Chic-a-Go-Go, Chris Drew, eavesdropping law, La Pasadita, Mia Park, Mike Fourcher, Minor Characters, Miss Mia, Nancy Bechtol, OTL, Ratso, WGN Radio | Categories: Mike Stephen, Outside the Loop Radio | URL: http://wp.me/p2OIZP-shJ
“…you want a Revolution?” FREE SPEECH permit required in Chicago
The NYC/Chicago connection on declaration of “Art IS Speech” issue:
Chris Drew, Street Artist (1949-2012) who for 25 years as an artist and founder of the Uptown Multi-Cultural Arts Center was trying to create a vibrant art scene in Chicago, especially downtown, where selling art is prohibited in the most viable locations without a “FREE SPEECH PERMIT”!
reference, Sam Love, Chris Drew Legacy video:
Yes, the permit is FREE, but restricted to 7 locations downtown, must be pre-approved, and you Still may not get it! In a recent screening of my socio/political documentary (1/24/15) at Revolution Books, Chicago “Free Speech & the Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew, Street Artist”(99 min)– http://youtu.be/HCD_f32k8RI a deep postfilm discussion which included myself, an engaged audience, and probono attorney, Mark Weinberg,http://youtu.be/-BwV5tadZQ0
(note: team included Joshua Kutnick, http://youtu.be/HCD_f32k8RI
probono attorney for the Criminal Defense, and won vs State Attorney Alvarez, by Judge Sacks ruling as the law was UNCONSTITUTIONAL, 2012)–was engaged on how rights varied with location, profiling, and topics
reference recent article by Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader:
Hey, the New Illinois Eavesdropping Law is Back!
In NYC it is OK to tape Cops at all times?” (the answer is YES!)
Verified by the man who was arrested over 40 times..and won!
Robert Lederman,President and founder of A.R.T.I.S.T. NYC (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics) working since 1993 in order to fight the legal and political struggle for full First Amendment protection involving the creation, display and sale of art on NYC streets and in Parks
I recently got an email from Robert who stated:
I’m sure police all over the US see a “need” to restrict the public’s
right to tape them, especially with all the recent videos depicting
violent police overreactions.
Fortunately, here in NY there is no ambiguity. The NYPD’s own
documents describe the public’s right to tape them at all times
so locally this is a non-issue.
– Robert Lederman – Jan 2014.
So you say “..you want a Revolution?” (Beatles lyrics, you can sing loudly now) well, you many want to reconsider, since there is this FREE SPEECH permit required in Chicago—so that may delay or restrict your right or negate your free speech, Well…hope that is not TOO inconvenient—————–
Illinois Eavesdropping Law -Why is it back? who/what is protected?
Remember the Old Illinois Eavesdropping Law? It was hotly contested by many in Illinois, major public interest, local and international media and social media all were astounded by the arrests and prosecutions under this law. including the case of Chris Drew, Street Artist’s battle against unexpected charges–Prior to this, hardly anyone even heard of this law, This STILL is a hot topic, since rearing its ugly head to major notice in 2009. .
reference: early posting on APA site, for background on first showing of film:
I saw this first hand. I documented Chris Drew (1949-2012) and his journey stating “Art IS Speech” He was selling Art for a $1 to protest the Peddler’s Ordinance but was charged with a Class 1 felony faced 4-15 years in prison , for audio recording his own arrest! he Spent 2.5 years in the court system – defended by Mark Weinberg, on Civil Rights, and then Joshua Kutnick, for the Criminal Defense–and he won! vs State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez (“Free Speech & the Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew, Street Artist” documentary film, 2014)
and many others in Illinois, including Tiawanda Moore and Michael Allison were brought in on charges and had to challenge their arrests in courtThe media buzzed locally, social, national and international on his case and many others.
The law that was declared unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court in March 2014. Now fast forward, New Illinois Eavesdropping Law approved by majority in the House and Senate and signed into Law by outgoing Gov. Quinn Dec. 2014.
The ACLU of Illinois opposed the new statute
Unfortunately, compared to the last version of the Illinois eavesdropping statute, the new statute significantly expands the circumstances when police and informants may record and intercept private conversations and phone calls without all-party consent or a warrant. We know of no evidence that the prior version of the statute, which required police to seek judicial approval, was any impediment to law enforcement in these instances. We are concerned about the expanded number of cases where no judicial officer will provide a check on police. On this basis, the ACLU of Illinois opposed the new statute.
So in 2015 and we have the New Illinois Eavesdropping Law leaves many in the land of freedom..now in the land of uncertainty-especially in Chicago and Illinois.
Why is this law back? I have been trying to grasp this issue, and reading many articles, including the Law itself. I write this to bring awareness, and may you come to your own conclusions, So, how can the Original Illinois Eavesdropping Law, in March 2014, be thrown out as unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court and now be back ?
My overall perspective is that the new law has ambiguous language, making it easier to have options for confusion, leaning strongly on the side of police and courts for interpretation. You will need a good lawyer, for sure.
When you read this, it may just start you thinking too..Who is being protected? Why is Illinois only one of a few states that keeps a law like this?.
As always, more questions than answers.
YES you still can photograph/videotape/audiotape police in public…but there is text in the new law which makes you wonder– about the definitions of Public VS Private.
a few references- the interpretations vary:
Free Speech it is our constitutional right!
Bring on the bodycams for police? Evidence on both sides is important. Keep videotaping! evidence is important. as you know..
“It is never over when it comes to fighting for your rights” – Chris Drew, Street Artist
Free Expression vs Censorship, North Korea, RU & Chicago Indie Film
Controversy, Censorship, North Korea, RU and a Chicago Indie Film—how these https://www.youtube.com/user/madpalX
Due to the recent events with Sony’s Interview and the looming impact, I felt my personal story hits home, and felt I should share it. As an artist myself , I am thinking of reasons why my indie “Free Speech & the Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew, Street Artiist” (99 min) is controversial. And in general, Why film is such a powerful tool, and fighting self-censorship.
I believe sharing this info publicly is relevant to many who make films, read books, think true democracy is important and participate in freedoms that others do not agree with. Freedom of Expression is one of our rights, like Free Speech.
I wanted to tell you what happened shortly before the screening of my first indie film..which was very difficult to bear and hear. I still do not know the whole story of what happened—here is what is known.
Here is the brief scenario:
Jan 2014. Chicago. I finished my first indie documentary complete with official U.S. copyright. Chris Drew’s Legacy already had a following due to the social-political nature the media, local, national and international, as well as social media, was following his case steady from 2009-2012. Surrounding his challenge to the Peddler’s Ordinance (he sold Art for a Dollar) which unexpectantly turned into his 2.5 year court cases for Class One Felony Eavesdropping. He was facing 4-15 years in prison if convicted.
April 2014. Chicago. Columbia College School of Journalism (a visionary school with Dr.Barbara Iverson , professor and journalist) hosted (limited pre-screening of 60 invited guests) my indie film on Chris Drew. This went very well and I was grateful for this first event.
About 2 weeks following this, Roosevelt University (my undergrad alma mater) was to show the film as a “community event” (not open to general public, as RU community)
In brief, after what I was told by a person who stated “never saw anything like this before” (yanking a film with an alum for a one time event) there was a “heated discussion” the decision came down from the Administration to pull the screening . So a community event held within RU should have been a simple event ? what happened?..But one curious one was that most of the people making the decision did not even see the film, they only saw the trailer.
Admittedly, this film has some dangerous elements like the First Amendment. Free Speech always a challenge, and the court case which Drew’s pro bono attorneys Mark Weinberg, for Civil Rights and then, for Criminal Defense on the Felony charges, Josh Kutnick who won vs the State’ Attorney, Anita Alvarez, in the court of Judge Sacks, 2012. In this case, a documentary which is based on fact and truth.
But even a film based on fantasy has its own ball of tangled deep issues.
On the “Interview” Sony film controversy:
From an article in the New York Times:
“In a clear reference to Mr. Kim, he (President Obama) said, We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States.” That would encourage others to do the same “when they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like.”
Back home in Chicago, My first indie was, and still is, meeting challenges:
After months and many emails, I requested that Roosevelt Univ list my film. I thought this would have been easy, since I was an Alum. Finally, I did get a listing on prestigious Mansfield Institute for Social Justice, MISJT is located within Roosevelt Univ. Here is what the posting looked like:
Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and transformation
Free Speech and The Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew
October 13, 2014 2 Comments
Community screening of “Free Speech and The Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew” a film about a street artist and his pursuit of freedom of speech and the US legal system. When- Friday, November 14th at 7:30pm Where- Logan Theater, 2646 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL Trailer- and Interviews
(See- My Interview by Dan O’Donnell -for reference, not on original posting)
“Free Angela” Film Screening and Discussion with Director Shola LynchIn “Articles and Reports”
The John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Internship ProgramIn “Articles and Reports”
Restorative Justice & Peace Circles: An IntroductionIn “Articles and Reports”
Filed under Articles and Reports
2 Responses to Free Speech and The Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew
- nancy bechtol says:
Thanks (herein, from the director) for listing this important and Chicago/Illinois film film. The Chicago Premiere is 11.14.14 at the Logan Theatre. Chicago. Indie film over 5 years in the making tells the story of Chris Drew selling art for $1 then unexpectedly charged with a Class 1 Felony for audio recording his own arrest, faced 4-15 years in prision. supported by 2 pro bono attorneys, Mark Weinberg-first on 1st amendment issues, then Josh Kutnick, for criminal defense. He won! and the Illinois Eavesdropping Law declared Unconsitutional. Come see. http://www.logantheatre.com Peace through Justice.
- nancy bechtol says:
Thanks for listing the Chicago Premiere-first public screening- of my indie doc.-99 min.(dir. Nancy Bechtol) Chris sold art for $1 to protest the Peddler’s License, but those charges were dropped and changed to a Class 1 Felony Eavesdropping, which in 2009, carried 4-15 years in prison, if convicted. 16 interviews, including Rep Elaine Nekritz, the 2 pro bono attorneys, and supporters/friends from American Indian Center, Occupy Chicago, Critical Mass and more. Come! 11.14.14 The Illinois Eavesdropping Law was overturned! 3/2014
Leave a Reply
….The Rest is for History to decide…
we all need to tell our stories.