Free-speech activist charged with felony holds downtown art-patch giveaway
From 3 to 6pm today, community artist and activist Chris Drew is holding a Free Speech Art Movement art-patch giveaway in the Loop. Drew, who founded the Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center, is kicking off the demonstration in front of Macy's on State Street, the spot of his December arrest while selling art in protest of the municipal code that limits the rights of speech peddlers, requiring they buy a $165 license every two years and prohibiting sales in large swaths of the city.
Friends videotaped and took photos of Drew being cuffed, and Drew tape recorded, ignorant of an Illinois eavesdropping law forbidding audio recording of conversations without the consent of all parties. When police found the recorder, in addition to the two misdemeanors Drew expected—peddling without a license and peddling in a prohibited area—the police tacked on a felony eavesdropping charge. To Drew's dismay, the State's Attorney later dropped the misdemeanors, and Drew is now now facing 4 to 15 years in prison on the felony charge.
This morning, Drew appeared in Cook County Court. His lawyer, Mark Weinberg, asked for 30 days to formally request that the charge be dropped on grounds that the eavesdropping law is unconstitutional. Drew's next court date is February 26. (For more on the case, pick up next week's issue.)