April 2006 Newsletter

28 April 2006
There is some reason for hope: yesterday a New York judge dismissed charges against the “Raging Grannies” who had protested at a military recruiting office. This time the First Amendment right to assemble and express dissent was upheld. Now let’s extend these rights to grandfathers and the younger generations as well!

The First Amendment gets some further overdue respect in Chicago with the opening of the “Freedom Museum” at 445 N. Michigan Avenue, next to Tribune Tower (Tel.: 312-222-4860). Although the exhibits avoid many cutting-edge issues, they are educational and worth seeing. One chilling indication of the emerging Surveillance Society: even in this museum dedicated to free expression, a surveillance camera eerily “watches” you as you watch the film extolling free expression!

To honor the memory of the late Frank Wilkinson, CCDBR is planning a memorial gathering in the late summer or fall: details will follow. Meanwhile, any of you who knew Frank are invited to contact Nancy Mikelsons at 708-386-2633.

We still have some tickets for the 21 May 4:00 P.M. matinee performance of the play “Back of the Throat,” the inaugural production of the new Silk Road Theatre company. Please let our office know as soon as possible that you want to reserve. This play, which deals with a Muslim American suspected of terrorism, has received attention from the New York Times, Channel 11, Reader, and other media.

CCDBR has had some good news recently: (1) the Bill of Rights Foundation received a grant from the Puffin Foundation to help finance our “Acting Free” theatre program for students, being set up in conjunction with Chicago’s Pegasus theatre; (2) the Crossroads Fund is considering us for a significant grant; (3) Independent Voters of Illinois (IVI) has conferred on CCDBR its 2006 Saul Mendelson Social Justice Award, which will be presented at the 3 June 2006 Independents’ Day Dinner (for information call IVI at 312-939-5105.) Because of my own travel in Ethiopia and Rwanda May 15 – June 8, I will have to miss this event but have prepared a statement to be read to the audience.

On March 29, I represented CCDBR in a debate on national security and civil liberties as part of a teach-in at Evanston High School.

We had an especially rewarding board meeting 18 April 2006 thanks to the presentations by three invited visitors: (1) Stan Willis (Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago and the Chicago Council of Black Lawyers) described the creative legal efforts underway to prosecute accused police torturer John Burge whose victims included CCDBR program coordinator David Bates. CCDBR will support a site visit to Chicago by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission to investigate the inexcusable 18-year delay of this prosecution. (2) Adam Schwartz of ACLU described efforts to promote a Chicago police ordinance which would curtail racial profiling, secure rights to demonstrate, etc. (3) Pat Hill of the African American Police League vividly recounted the effort to re-name a Chicago street in honor of Fred Hampton, a victim of FBI/Chicago police assassination in 1969. CCDBR sent a letter to the City Council and mayor supporting this proposal; but it has been effectively killed off in the last few days of Council maneuvering.

We are moving ahead with the updating of our sustainer records and as usual hope for financial contributions from all and sundry. Many thanks to those who regularly help us keep operating.


Bob Clarke, Chairman