Chicago – Legal challenge to 150 ft. protest buffer Today I attended a hearing on the citation I received for protesting in front of the Chicago Org on October 23rd. For those of you who have not been following the antics of Chicago Anon, a little background. The Chicago Municipal Code provides a person commits disorderly conduct when he (or she) knowingly: Pickets or demonstrates on a public way within 150 feet of any church, temple, synagogue or other place of worship while services are being conducted and one-half hour before services are to be conducted and one-half hour after services have been concluded, provided that this subsection does not prohibit the peaceful picketing of any church, temple, synagogue or other place of worship involved in a labor dispute. Well, as you can imagine Chicago Scilons like to claim the self-study courses they host constitute “services.” And, conveniently, they happen to host those courses pretty much all day (with a few 15 minutes breaks interspersed throughout), seven days a week. While the police, much to their benefit, have shown themselves to be wary of the Scilons’ claims, they nevertheless typically have yielded to their incessant whining and used the threat of arrest for disorderly conduct to chase Anons away. I, for one, quickly grew tired of being forced to move 150 feet away from the Org (where, you know, the Scilons are) after I joined the local cell and started protesting in July (after doing a test run with Sparrow out in D.C. – we stand with you Sparrow!). After doing some legal research (I’m an attorney), I showed up at the October 23rd raid and refused to follow police orders to move away in order take the first step in a legal challenge to the code. Although prepared to be arrested, I instead chose to sign a citation as it got the same result as an arrest but without having to sit at the police station for a couple of hours (hey, can you blame me?). So, the hearing. Prior to the judge calling my case I spoke with a city attorney who gave me three options (reduced fine and costs; community service; or trial). I chose the third option (after having that scene from Matrix flash through my head) and she then informs me they will ask for a continuance to allow for a full hearing of the issues (because apparently its already getting late for the judge and city attorneys at 2:30 p.m.). So the judge continued the case until January 13th at 9 a.m. Now, let me take a step back. Immediately after I received the citation I and other members of the cell reached out to the media. I received a response from the Chicago Tribune’s religion reporter, who attended the hearing. She pointed out Rebecca Cusano in the audience to me, the wife of complaining witness Domenic Cusano and a spokesperson for the Org. Mrs. Cusano was there with at least one, possibly two attorneys. Why she would need an attorney when the city is the one bringing the case is beyond me. When the judge called the case and Mrs. Cusano joined the city attorney at the podium, the judge asked one of the attorneys (again, not sure if both were there for Scilons) if he was there as her counsel. The attorney said his presence at the podium would be “superfluous.” (Ya think?) After the hearing, the reporter spoke to Mrs. Cusano for at least half an hour. I could hear her giving the reporter the usual spiel about how they aren’t your typical religion blah blah blah. She then spoke to me for about another 15 minutes (we had talked about the case a couple days ago as well). She told me a story on this whole situation would probably run in tomorrow’s Tribune. That’s all I got until the Tribune story is posted (maybe tonight?). Look for another local paper to do a story shortly as well. We’re blowing up in Chicago y’all! UPDATE: Trib reporter informed me last night that the story would not run today because 1) case was continued and 2) not enough space in today's edition. Not sure what exactly that means. I'm guessing they'll probably hold off on running the story until after the Jan. 13th hearing (so that it can include the court's decision). On the one hand, I would have liked to read what the Scilons have to say on this to help with my prep work for the hearing. On the other, the delay allows me a chance to feed the reporter additional information that I forgot to mention to her before. Also, the other local paper I mentioned is waiting to see what the Trib does. Just FYI.