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Occupying Heaven

by Rae Pinkston

The Occupy Movement that has been taking over the news and other media lately greatly resembles the fight between the Rebel Angels and God in Milton’s Paradise Lost. The way the two groups assembled, the reasons, and the ways that they fight against a force bigger than they are brings to mind the question: did the originators of the Occupy Movement base their occupation on the Rebel Angels of Paradise Lost?

When God proclaimed to all of the angels that his son will be worshiped above all the angels Satan was infuriated. That night he stayed up, unable to gain the rest of peace, because The Son had been put above him, and he could not tolerate coming in second to anything. So he came up with a plan to get his allies together and devise a way to overthrow God and take over Heaven for themselves.

New laws thou seest imposed,
New laws from Him who reigns new minds may raise
In us who serve, new counsels, to debate
What doubtful may ensue. More in this place
To utter is not safe. Assemble thou
Of all those myriads which we lead the chief. (Milton 5.679-684)

Thus, the Rebel Angels began their occupation of Heaven, and much like the occupation of Wall Street it was all started because someone in power decided to do something to further undermine the majority of the population. The Rebel Angels amassed far away from the sight of God to decide how best to go about their occupation in Heaven. This is contrary to what the Occupy Movement has done, since they assemble near where the powers of judgment lie, and on purpose. The reason they choose to do this instead of occupying the remote countryside, which is a decent analogy for where Satan and the Rebel Angels meet, is because they are trying to educate the populace about the injustices that are happening in the system. Now, while their methods of occupation differ greatly on the distance from the power with which they are fighting or trying to change, the Rebel Angels begin occupying the outskirts of Heaven for much the same reason as Occupy Together is occupying the world. They are trying to make a change in what is going on in their world, in their eyes, for the better. That is not to say that the methods of the Rebel Angels are necessarily right, they are after all trying to overthrow God and take over Heaven, but they certainly have the right to their say in the matter, why else would God have given them free will?

The methods with which the Rebel Angels fight the other angels, thus causing pain to all angel-kind, is far from the non-violent methods that the occupiers use, but it can still be seen as an allegory. The Rebel Angels tore apart the fabric of Heaven in order to create weapons with which they could use against the other angels since their swords could not injure them, not for long in anyway.

Immediate in flame,
But soon obscured with smoke, all Heav’n appeared
From those deep-throated engines belched, whose roar
Embowelled with outrageous noise in the air
And all her entrails tore disgorging foul
Their dev’lish glut: chained thunderbolts and hail
Of iron globes which on the victor host
Leveled with such impetuous fury smote
That whom they hit none on their feet might stand
Though standing else as rocks. (Milton 6.584-593)

This still applies to the Occupy Movement even though it is a non-violent movement. The reason for this is that Heaven also attacks the Rebel Angels with the same kind of weaponry. While Occupiers are non-violent there have been many instances where the police have attacked peaceful protesters with night sticks, pepper spray (notably at UC Davis), rubber bullets, tear gas, and other such riot control methods (against people NOT rioting). The unarmed protesters against such weapons are defenseless and thus the police “[Level] with impetuous fury [smitten] / That whom they hit none on their feet might stand.”

The Occupy Movement as a whole goes after a government to help change it so that the average citizen might be able to have a say in what is going on, instead of the almighty dollar. In doing this they are doing something that seems, to most, as impossible as the Rebel Angels throwing down Heaven, and while it may seem impossible that does not mean that it, in fact, is.

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Wintering Our Discontent

by Cilla Sluga

Spring brings forth buds; the rebirth of mother earth lifts our spirits. Summer celebrates the sun, showing off the full flowering of beautiful blossoms. But growth, real natural growth, happens now, under gray skies, bare trees, brown grasses and shriveled shrubbery.

It is happening hidden from view, under the earth. In the Fall, sap retreats from the branches. It heads down deep into the earth to the roots and goes to work growing the tree. Right now, fed by the sap, the roots are pushing outward and downward creating a more firm foundation for the tree. Without this process, the tree would be uprooted in the Spring with top heavy growth.

I have used this metaphor before to describe the ebb and flow that organizations go through and personal growth as one grows older. It is apt in so many instances. Most recently, I have been thinking of the issue of Winter and the Occupy Movement.

The bureaucrats and police may be doing us a favor by breaking up camps, denying permits, and forcing the movement to “Winter” our discontent. We should not squander the opportunity.

At Occupy Springfield, IL.(OSI), we are offering Teach-ins through our so-called “OSI University.” They are not for us alone but are open to the community. So far we have had Teach-ins on Conviction of the Innocent and How the Legal System Perpetuates Inequality. Future Teach-ins include topics that include Revolution and Insurrection, Conflict Resolution, Radical Therapy, Revolt and Occupy, Women and Genders Studies, the Israel-Palestine conflict, Illinois Election Process and Law, and more.

We have moved outside the confines of our small encampment. We discovered “freedom chalk”; an outrageously fun water-soluble sidewalk chalk; and we learned how to make it rather than buy it. It is the medium and public sidewalks our free speech canvas to carry the message of the 99%.

Our movement is connecting with activists and activist organizations. We are home-schooling ourselves about how to get an ID card if you are homeless, and other ways to help the homeless in our community (a topic for another blog, later), researching city ordinances, finding free, accessible, and Occupy-friendly businesses to meet inside. We are “occupying” our City Council meetings and OUR house, the Illinois State Capitol, in incredibly creative ways.

We have even occupied the back of a couple of squad cars, and lived to write about it. The outrage solidified our commitment to one another and to the 99%.

The OSI People’s Library is growing, and people are using it for their personal growth and education. Knowledge is power, and we are becoming very powerful. Our root system is moving the earth under our feet to create a firmer foundation. It is impressive growth for a three month old movement. We are a sapling on steroids, and we encourage all other movements to take up the same line of growth.

And, winter has yet to officially arrive!

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We Thought We Told You That We Won’t Stop

by Drew D. Duzinskas

It’s been a frustrating day here in the sweet and sleepy little city of Springfield. As usual, my mind is occupied with matters of a legislative nature. Our old nemesis, SB0397 came back to the Statehouse today.

As you probably know, SB0397 represents the worst kind of legislation to those of us in Occupy Springfield, IL. (OSI). Corporate extortionists holding the state legislature in terror of the prospect of losing more jobs in a state that’s already struggling to pay it’s own bills and keep it’s citizens employed; sounds like a job for OSI. In particular, Sears and the Chicago Mercantile Extortionists… oh sorry, Exchange, are demanding ludicrous tax breaks at the expense of a state budget wracked in debt. The proverbial Dude does not abide in this situation, and we felt this aggression could not stand. That’s why OSI has aggressively pursued stopping the bill, having before today appeared at the statehouse 3 times to protest it.

I was already spun from my recent incident at Congressman Schock’s office when SB0397’s return to the Illinois General Assembly was brought up at the Occupy General Assembly Saturday afternoon. Staring a $500.00 fine and a potential court battle in the eyes and knowing you just painted a bulls-eye on your back would be enough for a lot of people to want to back away from any more provocative protest actions. Too bad that’s not the kind of man I am, and if I wasn’t I don’t think I’d be an Occupier.

You see, targeting a bill like SB0397 is a lot like what I imagine hunting dangerous big game is like. We may not be able to bag the thing like we want, but we can damn sure see to it that some damage is done to the beast. Banners, sidewalk chalking, The People’s Mic, etc.… are the weapons we use in public spheres to take shots at these things. They create a spectacle people are compelled to watch because it deals with real issues, real people, real dollars being spent. Who wants to watch some crappy T.V. show some corporate shill put out to make a few bucks, when you can watch history unfold before your eyes? Hopefully, if you can get enough people talking about the things you’re talking about, educating themselves, and making decisions based on that, you’re cooking with a tin stove.

We’ve been itching to drop a banner somewhere, and this seemed like a good enough reason. Unfortunately, we had to develop the strategy on the fly. We didn’t really have the kind of in depth intelligence on the Gallery balcony in the Statehouse (our chosen public sphere for the operation) that allows for a perfect plan. We also didn’t have a banner yet. No problem for OSI.

We began designing and making a banner immediately. OSI is a do it yourself operation, so connecting a few bed sheets together and slapping some paint on them wasn’t beyond our capabilities at all. We found an operative with an artistic aptitude to recreate our OSI logo on it, and within 36 hours we had a banner that said “Stop Corporate Extortion OSI”. Gotta love Occupy Springfield, IL. R&D.

The trickier part came on the action end of the operation. We arrived about 25 strong at the statehouse, give or take. I filed in at about noon or so, and took up a role helping troubleshoot the situation. We were able to successfully teleport the banner in using advanced technology acquired from Occupy Area 51, and had it hidden near the railing we had chosen for maximum public exposure. There were unforeseen obstacles like lights on the wall and pillars that we had to work around, but we were able to develop a plan on the spot that would effectively display our message.

Unfortunately, unlike seasoned hunters that know the exact right time to use their weapon for maximum damage, we might have fired our shot of too quickly. As soon as the debates for the day began, we felt it was time to drop the banner. In hindsight, we probably could have waited until the debate on our bill. Oh well, you can’t roll down the highway of life looking the rear view mirror. Besides, the message we sent is what it is, regardless of timing.

I went down to the railing and took the banner out of its hiding spot, and started setting up. I handed it to one operative dressed in a suit, while another one in the same garb took the other end. We had to do a quick twist job to line it up, but within 10 seconds, the banner was up and visible to the politicos below. I stepped back and held my left fist up in the air, as did the rest of our group, as we heard someone call for security to stop us.

Within 30 seconds, we were being ejected yet again from the Statehouse. Despite the short time of the event, we did get some good exposure. There were iPhones and cameras out, and some of our people were able to retrieve video of the event. There were also some television cameras with a perfect pan shot of the banner. That was no coincidence.

Unfortunately, the bill passed through the House today, despite our efforts. It’s up for vote in the Senate next, but it looks like we won’t get this one. That’s alright, we’re making a point that we want everyone in that building to know about.

These actions are all about raising public awareness. You see, we at OSI don’t ask ourselves how far we have to go to get the change we want. We ask if we will be able to do whatever it takes to make change happen. By the looks of our crew so far, and the ruckus we continue to make, it seems that we will. We’ve already shown that it isn’t what we do that makes us hated and possibly feared. It’s what we don’t do, and that’s stop. Solidarity Campaneros, and good hunting!

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A ‘Banner’ Day for Occupy Springfield, IL.

by AJ Segneri

The following is our video footage and press release after today’s action:

OCCUPY SPRINGFIELD DISAPPOINTED ON VOTING OUTCOME BY THE HOUSE

SPRINGFIELD, IL – On December 12th the Illinois House voted 81-28 to allow tax breaks for Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and Sears Holdings Corp. where the bill will be sent to the Illinois Senate for a final vote. This bill would provide $85 million per year in tax breaks from the state of Illinois for CME, as well as Sears Holding Corp. receiving $15 million per year in income tax breaks for 10 years, on top of a $125 million property tax break over 10 years. The bill also allows CME 27.5 percent of its transactions as Illinois revenue, exempting the majority from state taxes. The state of Illinois is $600 million backlogged in corporate tax returns.

Minutes before the vote went underway on the House floor, members from Occupy Springfield (OSI) displayed a banner that read “STOP COPORATE EXTORTION” and contained their logo and “OSI”. “The banner spoke for us” said Deanna Trader, member of OSI. “As the banner dropped the legislature turned to see the members of Occupy Springfield, IL., and their supporters, standing silently behind it, fists in the air” said Chris Blankenhorn, another member of OSI. As the House security tried to take away the banner the police let the banner drop and it got caught on some light fixtures. “The House security was so anxious to get rid of the banner that they yanked it from my hands, letting it fall and get caught on the light fixture” said Jordan, another member of OSI.

OSI is an active organization where their activities have included, but have not been limited to, conducting rallies at the Capitol Building, testifying before the Illinois State Senate Finance Committee regarding the CME-Sears Holding Corp. bill, conducting Teach-in sessions at the Lincoln Library, and helping the oppressed in Springfield. OSI represents the 99 percent of Americans that are being pushed down both by the political and US economic system.

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Let Them Eat Chalk!

Written Under Duress By Drew D. Duzinskas

It’s been a strange few days here in the sweet and sleepy little city of Springfield, IL. The weather is turning cold and people are busy preparing for another winter in the Midwest. Hearts are warming to the idea of friends, family, and love. And plans are being made by everyone as to how to best enjoy this season. Despite this shift there are still sad details being sorted out here and in the rest of the country.

In particular, there will be 2 million people in January who will lose their unemployment benefits. Illinois will account for roughly 85,000 of those affected. That’s a whole lot of people staring new-found poverty in the face as they plan their budgets for the holidays. It must be terrible to have to choose between traveling to see loved ones (or giving your child that special gift) and eating in January.

Not that people collecting unemployment benefits are living large. Most barely receive enough money to get by month to month. They keep family and loved ones housed, fed, and warmed, at most. That is not an inordinate amount to provide for a person, especially when they have paid in to the system extensively. However, unemployment insurance is a “luxury” that a lot of people are about to lose.

A lot of people are losing jobs due to the poor economy. That is creating plenty of people on unemployment for the first time, often trying to support their families on a paltry sum of money. Business has been bad for a lot of hard working folks out there, people that worked non-stop for a long time, paid their taxes, and bought consumer goods. Now that irresponsible financiers and loose politics have burst certain bubbles, people who worked hard and in good faith are left out in the cold.

It may take quite some time before the economy recovers enough to offer these people jobs that don’t pay similarly to unemployment benefits, and with none of the health benefits, savings, and general social derision. I won’t personally be affected by the ending of unemployment benefit extensions in January without the help of Washington; but it disturbs me to think that some of these good people are. It’s disturbing to think somebody could do the right thing, come by everything honestly, and still not have some kind of social safety net that assures them the same respect and dignity of any living thing on this planet.

Now as I have mentioned, there is a chance that some people can receive more respite from their current condition while they struggle to find a job as the working poor, or severely in debt. H.R.3346, and S.1804 would provide benefit extensions for a short time while things warm up and job creation spikes in the spring, allowing people to once again earn more than a place amongst the working and non-working poor in terms of lifestyle. When I heard about this it seemed to me that something like that was worth some time and energy.

Through an announcement at an Occupy Springfield, IL. (OSI) meeting I found out that the Central Illinois Trades and Labor Council and the AFL-CIO were planning a protest in front of U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock’s office on the corner of Sixth and Monroe downtown in Springfield, IL. Apparently, Aaron doesn’t seem to want to give these people respite, and is willing to block its passage with his vote. Don’t get me wrong, Schock is a very sexy man as a recent Men’s Health Magazine has shown, but one has to wonder how empathetic he could be to the average construction worker with a family of three to support.

I felt he might need to be persuaded to change his vote and since we have a few constitutional protections to share our opinion freely, it might be an opportune time to use that right on December 8th. On Thursday I implemented a plan to express my opinion in a persistent, non-violent way.

For the last few months, members of OSI have been sharing their opinions on various matters using a method named by some as “Freedom Chalking”. After scrutinizing the city ordinances concerning vandalism, we determined that using chalk on a sidewalk was not vandalism. One of our members even contacted the local police department and was advised just that. In addition, various local groups including businesses and Right-to-Life have used chalk on a sidewalk as a way to use free public space for mass communication.

In addition to that, what we affectionately refer to as OSI R&D has developed a cheap and fun way to produce chalk. Using Plaster of Paris, water soluble Tempera paint, plastic tubes, and male prophylactics, you can produce vast amounts of chalk on the cheap. Given the not so vast resources of our small grassroots Occupy cell, chalk is a wonderful way to use public spaces to use our First Amendment rights and communicate our opinion on current events. In the past few weeks, OSI has chalked various establishments such as Chase Bank, U.S. Bank, and Congressman Schock’s office. On a few occasions we had encounters with law enforcement officers, and while there were a few dissenting opinions on the matter, we perceived what we were doing to be within legal parameters, as nothing more than a stern lecture came from these officials.

We spent the night of December 7th and the early morning hours producing chalk, and produced a prolific mess in the process. At around 2:45pm the next day, the first phase went into effect and I marched up to the corner of Sixth and Monroe with an associate, and ‘Operation Schock Chalk’ began. We began chalking things about the effects of blocking Unemployment Insurance benefit extensions, when we were made by the office staff. One of them came out and addressed me, as I chose a spot directly in front of the door. The conversation went something like this:

“Excuse me, Hi, I’m blah blah.”

“Hi” I said as I shook her extended hand and then continued chalking.

“Hi, look, I’m the one who has to clean this up and… look I’m going to get building management.”

I continued chalking as I said “Ok.”

My associate went unnoticed and continued chalking about how jobs could be found 7,783 miles West in China. I was on the second line of writing “2 Million People Will Lose Their Unemployment In January. Don’t Let This Happen” when the building manager entered my sight and said:

“You can’t deface property. You can’t do this, you have to stop!”

I replied” I’m not defacing anything. I’m exercising my First Amendment rights and using water soluble materials. We’ve been doing this at other places for a while.” She seemed upset when she replied:

“I told you to stop!”

I stood up, looked her in the eyes, and said:

“Yes, and I’m defying you.”

Predictably, she said “The police are on their way.”

I finished my chalking and noticed it was time to go pick up a friend from work, as planned. So I left and informed my associate of the situation. He decided to proceed on to the library, as he had planned to do when I left.

I left the site and proceeded to go about my business before I had to return for the 4:30 action with our Union friends. I returned at about 4:45 with a large box of protest signs and chalk, and the demonstration was in full gear as a large group of people marched in a circle chanting “Jobs Now!” and “We need benefits!”. I saw the usual suspects participating and took a spot on the side of the action.

I was informed that my piece of work in front of the office had been washed away. It upset me because I had wanted to have something on the sidewalk when the event began. I intended to do more, but now the workload had increased. I felt this message needed to be spread to as many people as possible, and sidewalks are usually pretty well traveled in Springfield.

So I began chalking in the exact same place again. I wrote “You Can’t Wash Away An Idea” among other things regarding H.R. 3346. I jumped in and out of the marching, and as I was doing so a small phalanx of press arrived and began filming everything and doing interviews. Eventually, a City Council member showed up and joined the fray, and in the end my associates and I had covered the sidewalk almost entirely with information and a quote by Aristotle. In short, a good time was had by all.

Having time to kill, I retired to Gallina’s Pizza with some of the protestors for a Stromboli and waited until our General Assembly began at 7:15. At the assembly I found out that our piece had been washed away already. This was frustrating to say the least, but left me even more determined to get what we considered an important message to Schock and his constituents, who agreed with, or were unaware of, the situation. After the meeting, I collaborated with other members and decided to return to chalk yet again that night.

There was a slight drizzle when we returned around 9:30 with chalk in hand. J.J. Keating and I began working; but before we could finish a police car pulled up, and an officer stated firmly to me: “Alright, that’s it. Get your hands behind your back!”

When dealing with law enforcement officers, it’s always best to be compliant, so I did as he asked and was handcuffed. I did not however fully utilize my right to remain silent, and we exchanged words concerning my actions. He did not agree with my assertion that what we were doing was within our right, and informed J.J. and I that we were under arrest. As he handcuffed J.J., he told me to stay put while reinforcements arrived. We exchanged more words, and I told him I was going to need his name and badge number by the time this was over. He didn’t seem to like that, and responded something to the effect of: “I don’t have a badge number. You see these?”

He pointed to whatever law enforcement rank insignia was on his arm. “These mean I am the boss. We’ve let you slide for too long, and I’m stopping it tonight!”

I told him I was still going to need his name. He seemed upset and aggressively said, as he pointed to his name badge, “My name? My name is Lieutenant J.E. Henry!”

I informed him that it was a pleasure to meet him. I also asked him if he was excited about making the first chalk related arrest in the history of Springfield. He did not seem as enthusiastic as I was.

Eventually, his reinforcements arrived, two squad cars worth. J.J and I were detained in them and informed that we weren’t under arrest, but would still be detained as we waited for the Lieutenant to determine exactly what ordinance we would be charged with. It seemed obvious to me that we were being harassed, by comparison to police actions over the last few weeks; I expressed that opinion to the Lieutenant. He did not agree, and the farce continued.

J.J. and I were un-cuffed before being placed in the cars, and watched the spectacle unfold. I chatted with the officers in my car as another car arrived and a plain-clothes photographer got out, documenting the scene of the crime. I couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. I don’t know if the officers appreciated that.

Eventually, I was let out of the squad car and the Lieutenant informed me that we were fined $500.00. He began telling me how sick he was of having to deal with the complaints. As he started in, I asked him to please keep his value judgments to himself and just explain the situation. He huffed and did so, and I found out that it was a vandalism ticket, but the use of city labor turned that $100.00 fine into a $500.00 one.

He informed me of my court date and told me I was free to go. I smiled and told him I fully intended to have him investigated for harassment before thanking him and extending my hand. He did not shake my hand.

I waited for them to let J.J. go, and we had a conference with a friend who has some experience in protest arrests. He looked over our tickets and we discussed the repercussions when the best show of the night began. A fire truck, complete with lights, siren, and crew, pulled up in front of the police perimeter established to document all the “evidence”. The crew filed out, grabbed a hose, and began spraying our messages off the sidewalk. Apparently that was the city labor our friend the Lieutenant was talking about.

After this grotesque act of ignorance, J.J. returned home and I retired to the Brewhaus to help AJ, our associate that arrived after seeing our predicament on Facebook, determine our response to the police actions. We decided on a press release. The rest of the story can be found in the newspapers and on T.V.

Despite my pending court battle and the derision of a number of people, I am unrepentant. I feel my message was censored, and that the police response was spurred on by the direct involvement of a U.S. Congressman’s complaints. The fact our message pressed him to change his vote may reflect poorly on him in some circles. It is what made it imperative to have it removed.

I pose these questions: If an average citizen were to call in to the police with a similar complaint, would it be given any attention? Would a fire truck be brought out to clean it? Would charges and fines be trumped up? Why aren’t children fined for ordinance violations when they chalk? What about the aforementioned local groups? Why weren’t we fined or even stopped when we chalked in front of Chase Bank, and other places? Why does Aaron Schock have to be so damn good looking? Where does he find time to work on those abs of his during his busy days legislating?

The fact is, at this point in the situation, I have a lot of questions. More than anything I just want some answers to these questions. Needless to say, we are contacting lawyers. People are showing their solidarity with JJ and I by planning actions. By the time it’s all said and done, there might be some big trouble brewing in the sweet and sleepy little city of Springfield. Unfortunately, that won’t help the almost 85,000 Illinois citizens about to lose their unemployment benefits.

If you find what happened to us reprehensible; if you agree that what were fighting for is important; then what is really important is that you help the cause and try to get Congress to pass H.R. 3346. How you do it is up to you, but I’ve been handcuffed, detained, and fined to try and get this message across. Please don’t let that be in vain.

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Free Speech Goes Down The Drain

by Rae Pinkston

SPRINGFIELD, IL. – Thursday night the price of “free” speech was determined by two of Springfield’s finest. The cost totaled up to $1,000.00, or $500.00 for each of the two members of Occupy Springfield IL. (OSI) caught chalking Representative Schock’s sidewalk, in the front of his office. The OSI members had come back to replace chalk that had been erased earlier in the day during a rally to support an extension of Unemployment Benefits. The message these two gentlemen were trying to get across to the Congressman was that Illinois’ over 85 thousand unemployed workers need to be supported by extending their unemployment benefits while they seek new jobs.

The two members who were chalking their message in front of Schock’s office were approached by police and immediately handcuffed without warning of any kind. J.J. Keating had this to say about the incident, “The first thing they said was, ‘put your hands behind your back,’ to Drew. Then [as] I walked up, the officer asked if [I] had been chalking as well, I said yes sir.”

J.J. then tried to send out a text to let people in OSI know what was happening and the Lieutenant took his phone and said to him, “You do not have the right to a phone call,” after which the Lieutenant placed the phone in J.J.’s pocket. At this point both Drew Duzinskas and J.J. Keating were put in separate police cars and left to sit there. Luckily for members of the OSI, J.J. has a bad shoulder and cannot be cuffed behind his back, and so was able to send a picture of the car he was in and let the group know via Facebook what had happened. After an hour the two men were released with vandalism tickets for having written on the sidewalk.

When the other members of OSI found out what was happening they went into an uproar, after all, the group uses a water soluble homemade version of the sidewalk chalk that is sold by most major retailers. According to Springfield’s city Ordinance vandalism is listed as: “A person commits vandalism when he engages in the [willful] or malicious destruction, injury, disfigurement or defacement of any public or private property. This offense includes, but is not limited to, cutting, tearing, breaking, marking, drawing or painting when these actions are intended to or have the effect of causing damage to property.” By law in order to be vandalizing property the assailant would need to be in possession of “a spray paint container, liquid paint or any marker containing a fluid which is not water soluble and has a point, brush, applicator or other writing surface of ½-inch or greater, in any public building or upon any public facility or private property with intent to use the same to deface the said building, facility or property.” Words in bold are highlights made by this writer to show specific wording. Also, the two men were not charged with possession with the intent to vandalize showing that the cops themselves knew the law.

Just as the two men were being released the Springfield Fire Department arrived, in the rain/snow the city experienced that night, and began to use fire hoses to remove the chalk. This seems to be a waste of the city’s money, since after all it was raining and the chalk would have just washed off over the course of the evening.

An OSI member interviewed the two men who were detained and they both had opinions about what happened. Drew stated, “I feel upset that my First Amendment Right was being stripped away. I feel violated, because of the harassment of law enforcement actions.”

J.J. had this to say about what happened, “I was very surprised when I was detained for ‘writing large political messages’ with washable sidewalk chalk in front of Schock’s office. I personally had been informed [by the SPD, via telephone] that being non-permanent, sidewalk chalk was not vandalism.” Also, earlier this morning he stated, “I feel that since we had the chalk and they didn’t charge us with possession with intent to deface that they’re admitting there was no defacement, therefore no vandalism [occurred].”

The entire OSI group is wondering if the police will next be after teachers for possession of chalk, or if they will begin to ticket children who routinely draw on the sidewalks in front of their homes and at parks.

Local news coverage of this incident, please note that a quote from Cliff Busher, Deputy Chief of the Springfield Police Department, in the State Journal-Register stated “[Buscher] said officers were at the congressman’s office, 235 S. Sixth St., around 5:20 p.m. on a complaint of political messages being written on the sidewalk in chalk.” And yet we are told that it was not the content of the chalk that drove this incident… :

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