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.
INVITE to connect from beyond? CDrew,Artist/ Activist (RIP 1950-2012)
Coincidence?? Truth always stranger than “made up stuff”
LinkedIn sends me an invite to connect with
only issue– he passed on 2 years ago.
Do you believe in the power of the spirit beyond physical death?
and I shout back to Chris, “your story will be told and have a longtime impact on many!”
..And all this happens On the same day of screening confirmation from Joseph Ravens at DEFIBRILLATOR(a.k.a dfbrL8r or dfb) is a non-profit organization
Screening is Aug 15th, Sat. 2015. (mark your calendar! )
Chris, artist and defender of the First Amendment, gave his life and dedicated his energies to overturn the Peddler’s Licence. But this challenge unbelievably ended up facing a Class One Felony Eavesdropping charges with 4-15 years in prison.-(in 2008 for audio recording his own arrest!) if convicted but he won with 2 probono attorneys Weinberg and Kutnick! THIS is a true story. Rooted in Chicago – my indie film, “Free Speech & the Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew, Street Artist” (99 min) with the soundtrack of “Paper Airplane” by Alton & Mansfield courtesy of Hey Now Records. has very deep/grassroots connections which transcends boundaries!
Here is his LinkedIN profile:
Executive Director at Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center
My goal is to establish Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center as an institution with a paid staff and then go on to establish my own career and web site online. Along side of this I wish to work at long term part-time jobs in the creative and/or non-profit industries to further these aims. My creative, office and management skills make me a valuable and cost effective employee to any small or large business.
Specialties:proposal writing, office management, HTML coding, computer troubleshooting, repair and management, Photoshop, GIMP, Web site development, web site management, photography, screen-printing, layout, design, public relations, press release writing, radio spot writing, office software, letter writing.
– Present (28 years 7 months)
Founder and continuous manager of this community arts organization accomplishing over 20 years of steady arts programming with an all volunteer force. Imagine what we could do with a paid staff!
– (4 years 8 months)
Taught computer literacy and basic office applications to beginning and intermediate students.
Computer Lab maintenance.
“Zombie”Illinois Eavesdropping Law and Sleeping Cop?
How To Be Arrested, Safely..says Pres. of A.R.T.I.S.T
Robert Lederman has been very vocal about the rights of art vendors selling goods in SoHo. He founded A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics) in 1993 in order to fight the “legal and political struggle for full First Amendment rights involving the creation, display and sale of art on NYC streets –This is not about politeness or respect for police officers, but rather about surviving the experience, he offers his sage advice as artists’ rights activist who has won numerous lawsuits about being falsely arrested.
How To Be Arrested, Safely
by Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T.
The recent deaths of African American males at the hands of police officers in Ferguson Missouri and Staten Island NY have resulted in widespread protests, riots and a great deal of controversy over police methods. Civil Rights leaders, politicians, activists and reporters
have given these incidents tremendous attention.Unfortunately, completely missing from the national debate is some very simple but crucial information about how members of the public, regardless of age or race and regardless of guilt or innocence should behave when stopped by the police, or when being arrested. This is not about politeness or respect for police officers, but rather about surviving the experience.
Leaving aside our subjective opinions on whether or not American police are brutal, racist, poorly trained or overly militarized, the unquestionable fact is that most people react inappropriately to being stopped, questioned or arrested. Having been arrested myself more than 50 times (though never convicted) I’d like to share my experience in the hope that even one such tragic incident as the deaths in Ferguson and Staten Island can be avoided. The advice I’m giving here is what I’ve learned to do so as to protect myself from being injured or killed by the police.
The key point is to neither do or say anything that could cause the police officer confronting you to think you are going to get violent,
use a weapon or attempt to escape arrest. Police officials, schools and parents should instruct children from an early age how to safely respond to a police confrontation.
When a police officer orders a driver to pull over and then approaches
the car, that officer is in a heightened state of alertness. His or her adrenaline is pumped up and they are armed with a gun. They have no idea whether the driver of the car is peaceful or if they have a weapon, are high, drunk, violent or crazy. The very first thing you need to do so as to protect yourself is to put both of your hands where the officer can see them. The two best places are out the drivers side window or to have them on the steering wheel.
The very worst thing you can do as the officer approaches your car is to reach under the seat, in the glove compartment or in your backpack, fanny pack or handbag. You might innocently think that reaching for your ID at this time is a good idea, since asking for your ID is likely to be the first thing the officer will do. No matter how well-trained a police officer is, and no matter how innocent you maybe, reaching for something at this time is guaranteed to make that officer suspect you are reaching for a weapon and to react accordingly.What I do before reaching for my ID, whether on the street or in my car, is to say to the officer, “I am reaching for my ID. I do not have a weapon. Is that OK?” Make sure that your hands remain in view at all times. Move slowly and deliberately and do what the officer is telling you, especially if they say to remain still.
2. Street Stops
On many occasions I have witnessed police in the process of arresting someone other than myself. The defendants often make the following, sometimes fatal, mistakes.
3. Wildly gesturing as they claim to be innocent.Aggressively walking towards the officer.Shouting, either cursing at the officer or shouting to their
friends to come and help them. Attempting to pull their hands away when the officer attempts to
subdue or handcuff them. Reaching into their pockets, pants, jackets, backpacks etc.
- Trying to escape from a police car or from the handcuffs. As we can plainly see from videos of some of these recent incidents,
the police are trained to never back down once they begin to make an arrest.They will always meet resistance or force with much greater force. You cannot win by physically fighting with the police. The time to protest
and fight against police is in a court, where you have a better than
even chance of winning.Trying to pull your hand away when an officer attempts to handcuff you or twisting your body, will almost surely lead to a violent response. If there is more than one officer present, you can expect a pile on of all the officers, exactly as is seen in the video of the Staten Island
choke hold incident that led to the needless death of Eric Gardner.Regardless of what one thinks about police tactics or about racism in America is there any question that if Mr. Gardner had simply allowed
the police officer to place handcuffs on him that he’d be alive todayand facing a very minor charge for selling loose cigarettes?
The facts in the Ferguson Missouri shooting of Michael Brown are farless clear cut but the witness reports generally agree that as asuspect in a petty robbery Brown was stopped by the police who then attempted to arrest him. At some point he got away from them, and was shot. The police claim there was a struggle for the officers gun, which may or may not be true, but it seems fairly certain that Brown was in custody however briefly, possibly inside the police car, and then got away. If he had simply remained in the patrol car he’d be alive today and facing a very minor charge of theft.
None of what I’m suggesting is meant as a defense of the police nor as an accusation against the victims of these police shootings. These incidents are tragic because they were totally avoidable.
Everyone in this country, especially those who live in high crime areas where being stopped by the police, justifiably or without
“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will
not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies
but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not
know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single
battle.” – Sun Tzu
The writer is an artists’ rights activist who has won numerous
lawsuits about being falsely arrested.
> Robert Lederman
pass it on..
“…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—————–
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
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….The Rest is for History to decide…
we all need to tell our stories.
Citizens Recording Police – Once Again a Felony?
Current news on the “NEW” version of the Illinois Eavesdropping Law now sits at Gov. Quinn desk for either Veto or Signature. Just when we thought it was over..
Recall that Chris Drew, Street Artist, activist and community leader, was charged with the Class 1 Felony for Audio-recording his Own arrest in public, in front of Macy’s while selling art for a Dollar, in a challenge to the Peddler’s Ordinance, expectantly turned into a Challenge to the Ill. Eavesdropping Law, and he won! backed by pro bono attorneys, Weinberg and Kutnick, in the court of Judge Sacks in 2012. and in 2014 the Illinois Supreme Court overturned this law which restricts rights, ultimately to bring evidence in court of any police misconduct. Even Supt. McCarthy, Chicago, was in favor of this saying it protected police and citizens…for more of the background story on this:
In March the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously overturned that state’s draconian Eavesdropping Act, finding that it “criminalizes a wide range of innocent Conduct..
‘new’ The Illinois Eavesdropping Law? Who is being protected? read carefully:
Only a government that lives like cockroaches in the darkness would pass a law criminalizing the act of turning on the light. Illinois — In March of this year the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s…
According to IllinoisPolicy.org, the bill discourages people from recording conversations with police by making unlawfully recording a conversation with police – or an attorney general, assistant attorney general, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney or judge – a class 3 felony, which carries a sentence of two to four years in prison. Meanwhile, the bill makes illegal recording of a private citizen a class 4 felony, which carries a lower sentencing range of one to three years in prison.
Read more at
Watch this important issue as it unfolds in the days ahead…
as Chris would say, “you are always at the beginning when fighting for your right…it is never over..”