Dissent in Democracy?

June 14, 2013

Gary_inline2Gary Wagaman vs. Anita Alvarez and The State of Illinois

On 6th June, 2012, Chicago resident Gary Wagaman was arrested along with nearly a dozen protesters during a peaceful march in solidarity with Quebec’s striking students. Gary sustained ligament damage during the arrest and wore a hard splint on his right arm during his time in detainment in Cook County jail – a period of two-and-a-half weeks.

The police write-up attempting to justify the arrest alleged Gary had thrown an object at an officer, while subsequent media reports confused facts even further, with some stating Gary had struck the officer. Contesting these allegations, Gary has maintained his innocence for more than a year, while a series of court appointments looking into the case have continued to affect his life and livelihood. Initial media coverage of the event, together with Gary’s extensive period of detainment, were contributing factors behind the subsequent loss of his job – and his apartment.

During his period of detainment, in the hole of the jail, Gary was not given amenities such as toilet paper for 7 days. A bond was set at USD50,000 and funds raised by activists and supporters in Detroit and Chicago led to Gary’s release.

An initial trial date has now been set for 15th July, while the bulk of the trial is expected to get underway on the following day. If convicted, Gary faces a felony charge, up to 7-years in jail and a fine of up to USD20,000. Those in support of Gary’s innocence are calling for other supporters to stand with Gary on 16th July in whatever way they can; attending the court-room to hear, first-hand, Gary’s testimony and by raising awareness of this case.

Gary’s trial is also part of a wider trend of a clampdown on dissent across the United States, with recent headline-grabbing cases including the detainment of Grand Jury resisters and allegations of prosecutorial abuse ahead of the death of Aaron Swartz at the start of the year.

Join this cause now by sharing the details of this story and helping to raise awareness of Gary’s trial: July 15-16 @ California and 26th Street, Chicago.

By Mark Kauri | @Mark_Kauri


For more information on Gary’s case:

Facebook.com/FreeGaryWagaman (Facebook campaign)

Stand With Gary (flyer)

Free Gary (fundraising)

The Occupied Times initially outlined Gary’s story here