Category Archives: Street medic

Reportback: Wicker Park Noise Demo

On Friday 20 September there was a noise demonstration in Wicker Park.

Two medics ran. The protest started with around 30 mostly young participants. There were no people with evident mobility issues. We observed no injuries but did dispense two band aids to people who came up to us with cuts on their fingers and gave out two throat lozenges. There were no arrests.

The overall vibe of the action was festive and chill.

About 8 police including a couple white shirts and one tactical officer were on Damen next to the park waiting for the demonstration to start while people gathered at the fountain. We left the park a little after 9:00 and went directly into the street on Damen and kept the street for the duration of the march. Medics stayed toward the back to be able to see everything. The police followed at a distance of two or three car lengths effectively running interference for us by preventing other vehicles from zooming up on us from behind. During the action when a police car on a call or ambulances approached, protesters called out to each other and cleared the street until they passed.

We went north to the six corner intersection of Damen, North, and Milwaukee where demonstrators lingered in the intersection briefly before heading east on North Ave.
After a few blocks we turned south and followed that street to where it connected with Milwaukee then headed back north to Milwaukee/Damen/North Ave again. This time the protesters went into the middle of the intersection where they danced, chanted, and banged pots and pans for a couple minutes then looped around counterclockwise while cars were also moving through the intersection. Medics had moved to the sidewalk for safety and a wider view of the scene. Three or four police cars moved in and blocked the west side of the intersection. This is when several cops got out of their cars and approached the protestors who then moved out of the intersection quickly. Police on foot shadowed the rest of the action.

We headed south on Milwaukee with around six police on foot including a sargent and the tac officer. At two or three places along Milwaukee it felt like a snatch and grab might be brewing when police on foot moved closer, watching protesters more intently and even moved into fringes of the group. Medics got on the sidewalk at these points to avoid potential arrest. Fortunately, the tension eased each time.

At Milwaukee and Division protesters took eastbound Division the short distance to Ashland and then scattered into stopped westbound traffic and ran back west, crossing Milwaukee and continuing west on division. Numbers by now had thinned to around 20 Around this point one demonstrator who had been displaying a penchant for moving into the opposite lane of traffic whenever it was stopped and walking in front of, around and between cars while taking a video, amped it up a couple notches. We kept a closer eye on them for the rest of the action.

Protesters held the intersection of Divison and Damen for several minutes. Some danced and chanted while others crouched behind a large sign in the center of the intersection. Some of the cars who had the light were not slowing down very much and protesters who were dancing or weaving around taking pictures seemed not very cognizant of moving cars. It was some anxious observing for medics standing on the sidewalk.

We continued west a couple blocks, doubled back and turned north up Damen. We noticed we no longer had police cars following and only two patrol officers on foot remained who had fallen back a half a block or more behind the action.

We continued on Damen back to Damen/Milwaukee/North Ave to occupy the intersection once more with around 15 protesters remaining. There were no police cars and only two cops foot who hadn’t caught up with the action yet. This time protesters were being much more bold, standing in front of cars trying to pass through the intersection, surrounding some, circling around a limo while knocking on the windows and sitting on the fender as it pulled away. Others crouched to bang their pots on the pavement out of the view of close by cars. Everybody in the intersection ranged form vulnerable to really really vulnerable.The cops on foot caught up, and a couple more materialized. They began to manage traffic and order protesters out of the intersection who headed back south on Damen to the park where the action came to a close at around 11:00 or 11:30.

New handout: What Do Medics Do?

What do street medics do? A lot of things. We made a handout to clarify a few points and let you know just what you can expect when you ask us to be at a protest.

You can view and print the PDF for this handout here; it is also available on our handout page. Distribution is encouraged.

We have also updated our resources page! Check it out.

What do street medics do?

  • Emphasize the importance of consent for any care provided
  • Work in teams of at least two medics to offer do-no-harm first aid and natural remedies
  • Help people access a higher level of care in the event that it is needed
  • Provide referrals for follow-up or ongoing health care
  • Conduct workshops on protest health and safety
  • Educate protesters about individual health issues
  • Participate in action planning meetings to advocate that protests be planned in a healthy way
  • Provide public health interventions such as handwashing stations to prevent illness
  • Spread calm
  • Work at all kinds of protests, regardless of the likelihood of civil disobedience or injuries, to ensure a caring atmosphere and increase accessibility
  • Participate with other protesters in jail support teams, in order to offer care for any injuries arrestees may have

What DON’T on-duty street medics do?

  • Dispense over-the-counter medication
  • Supply water or food (we DO encourage organizers to do this in order to promote protester well-being… hint hint!)
  • Participate in protest tactics like chanting, holding banners, or handing out leaflets
  • Force care on anyone
  • Act outside of our training
  • Work alone
  • Charge money
  • Cooperate or share information with police, ICE or other authorities
  • Organize jail support, or act as the only participants
  • Participate in illegal actions

Ways to help street medics so we can help you:

  • Spread calm, not rumors
  • Use our batsignal: Call out “Medic!” when you or your friends need urgent help
  • Form a privacy circle or make space for medics to provide care
  • Photograph police, not patients

Reportback: Whittier Elementary School

This is a reportback on Chicago Action Medical’s coverage of actions surrounding the demolition of La Casita, the Whittier Elementary School fieldhouse, in Pilsen (23rd and Damen), the weekend of 16-18 August 2013.

LA CASITA DEMOLITION

On the evening of Friday 16 August, the instructor of an Aztec dance class arrived to teach at La Casita and was surprised to find a construction fence set up, the door had been kicked in, cops and contractors were removing the books in boxes under the cover of night, and a demolition crew was there. An emergency call went out and parents, teachers, students, and community came out to sleep there and prevent the demolition. Two medics from CAM stayed late into the night of the 16th, when 3 people were arrested. Four medics were there on Saturday the 17th.

The La Casita struggle began four years ago when CPS cut Whittier’s library budget, closing its school library. Parents occupied the field house on school grounds for well over a month and won the right to use it. Books were donated from across the country. Half of the field house was established as the new Whittier school library, under management of the parents. The other half of the field house became a community-run youth safe space, with after-school programming, ESL classes, and community-based arts programming.

Cristo del Rey is a private Jesuit high school that is adjacent to Whittier, a public elementary school. Cristo del Rey wants astroturf athletic fields where the Whittier field house was located, and the city is eager to transfer the property to private lands. Last year, the city threatened demolition of La Casita, and the parents commissioned an architect to both verify the safety of the structure, and to design a green building to replace it. The city backed down, and Alderman Danny Solis promised money for a new school library.

This weekend’s sudden and unannounced nighttime demolition caught everyone off guard, and was very emotional. After Friday night’s overwhelming community response, Ald. Danny Solis said he’d meet with the community Saturday morning. Instead the contractor did a tactical demolition, beginning with bulldozing the fence and crashing a cat bulldozer into the building at high speed, followed by 11 arrests (cuffed with zipties); then a backhoe crossed the picket-line and quickly took down the building.

Medics used a lot of white flower oil for grounding amidst the high emotions. Parents and community members were screaming and crying with grief. The medics held a few of the protesters and let them cry on our shoulders. A member of Solis’ machine antagonized the protesters but was moved back by the police.

Halfway through the rapid demolition, the community marched to Benito Juarez Community Academy where alderman Solis was holding a “Back-to-School” event. The children educated the families standing in line for free backpacks and the Deejay shut down so the protesters could speak to the crowd. We learned that Solis had changed his phone number and left the city. The community marched back to the La Casita site, joined hands in prayer, decided on demands, and let two of the children speak, then many went to the 10th district station to do jail support. Two medics went with them.

One of the families involved in La Casita escaped Pinochet’s Chile after fighting similar “reforms” there and being tortured. This community will not give up easily.

The community provided plenty of bottled water and food (make your own tacos) throughout the action. Those who stayed overnight did not sleep very well. The weather was amenable. Therefore our care was all in the realm of emotional and jail support. This was a very difficult thing to watch: emotional support is not over, and some of us could use some, too.

You can view some pictures from the day of the demolition here.

Reportback: ALEC Action

Take a look at protests from the medics’ point of view! This is the first in a new series of reportbacks from medics running at actions.

On 8 August 2013, Chicago-area labor unions and others gathered at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago to protest the ALEC convention.

6 medics ran (worked) at the protest. One was a medic in town from Wisconsin who also ran during the NATO protests last year.

By 12:00 there was in the neighborhood of 1,000 protesters picketing from the hotel entrance on Monroe east to Wabash and south to the Wabash entrance to the hotel.

After a couple hours of picketing and some speeches the crowd started to dissipate and police focused their attention on the black bloc, facing off across a barricade in front of around 12 black bloc people on the sidewalk. The crowd on the sidewalk was very dense for at least 30 feet in either direction from the black bloc group.

At this point we did some lazy medic work by suggesting to a care giver of a child in a wheelchair situated very close to the face off between police and black bloc that it would be a good idea to move farther back from the potential flashpoint. Meanwhile the police moved in for the first snatch and grab. When the crowd surged away from the violence we were just a couple steps away and able to help create a zone of space around the little girl in the wheelchair so nobody fell on her.

Seven protesters were arrested in two snatch and grabs. We treated no injuries but prevented some.  In both of the snatch and grabs police knocked bystanders to the sidewalk and into the building but we saw no injuries and nobody requested any first aid.

Police Infiltrator Expelled from Chicago Action Medical

Click here to read our press release.

A Chicago police officer using the name “Danny Edwards” was exposed today by independent journalists after infiltrating Chicago Action Medical (CAM) for the last year. CAM is a collective that has provided first aid and urgent care since 2002 at progressive protests and demonstrations. CAM took the lead in organizing protester medical support for the 2012 NATO protests.

“Danny Edwards” attended a 20-hour street medic training organized by CAM in March 2012. From March through May 2012 he attended many protests as a street medic in the lead up to and during the NATO protests. After that he occasionally emailed CAM members on and off of our email list soliciting information about upcoming protests. To our knowledge he did not provide any medical care as a street medic. After he was positively identified as a police infiltrator, CAM removed him from our email list and we are now notifying other medics and activists of  “Danny’s” identity and our process.

"Danny" at the 2013 May Day march

Members of CAM raised concerns with each other about “Danny Edwards.”

About the undercover officer

In early May 2012 a few members of CAM raised concerns with each other about “Danny Edwards.” Most alarmingly, a Chicago activist informed us that “Danny” had contacted him looking for information about unpublicized NATO protests. On other occasions “Danny” broke away from his street medic buddy to join black bloc sections of the NATO protests. In trainings and in practice, CAM stresses the importance staying with a buddy throughout an action. When “Danny” repeatedly broke these generally accepted guidelines, CAM members reminded him of our standards and asked him to remove his CAM insignia.

As “Danny” continued to act in ways counter to CAM standards, concerned CAM members continued to offer him guidance, but also monitored his activity more closely and tried to prevent him from close contact with less experienced group members. We also reminded protest organizers about CAM’s open membership, and that only public information should be shared with the collective. We did not share our growing but unconfirmed suspicion with the broader group, because we believe a culture of concern keeps us safer than a culture of fear.

We expected “Danny” to disappear after the NATO protests, and were surprised when he privately approached CAM members this spring asking for information about planned protests organized by groups including the Chicago Teachers Union. At this point we became aware of publicly available court records stemming from the NATO 3 trial naming “Danny” as a Chicago police officer. Independent journalists followed up with a thorough investigation, during which they photographed “Danny” at a protest and met him at his home.

CAM believes that the CPD infiltrated CAM to attempt to gain information about protest groups. We do not have special access to information, but we do have a bond of trust with protest communities. The CPD may have believed that they could exploit that trust to map social networks, entrap someone, or sow fear and distrust.

CAM’s position on infiltrators

CAM stands against political infiltrators and informants. It is unconscionable that our society allows the expenditure of vast sums of money to fund these predators who undermine democracy. We applaud journalists, popular movements, and representatives who work to expose and change this sad state of affairs. We especially condemn the recent pattern of FBI and other law enforcement entrapment of impressionable, isolated, or inexperienced social and environmental justice activists. We stand in solidarity with members of the Muslim community who have experienced even greater targeting and persecution.

Especially close to us are the cases of the NATO 5. Undercover Chicago police officers targeted and entrapped Brent Betterly, Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase, Mark Neiweem and Sebastian Senakiewicz a year ago. All are still incarcerated. Please join us in observing the International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5, this May 16–21. (https://nato5support.wordpress.com/international-week-of-solidarity-with-the-nato-5/)

We strongly caution radical and protest groups against making unconfirmed accusations that members are informants or infiltrators. Infiltrators are a real threat to our movements, but we believe that a greater threat is succumbing to the paralyzing fear of working under police surveillance. CAM has no plans to change our membership structure. We have a wide membership of varying experience levels, united by a common 20-hour training, enthusiasm for the work, and adherence to group expectations such as patient confidentiality and having a buddy while marked as a medic.

There is absolutely a role in social movements for small closed groups of mutual trust. Unfortunately, small closed groups do little to protect the people on the margins of our movements who are frequently targeted. While we are always mindful of police surveillance, for us the lesson is to be loud, upfront, and transparent about who we are and what we are doing. Build connections across different segments of our movements. Reach out and support those new to or on the fringes of our movements. These are our strategies, and they have served us well for eleven years.

For more information you can read the full article by Chris Geovanis and Steve Horn at http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/16488-undercover-police-officer-connected-to-nato-5-case-still-spying-on-protest-in-chicago.

If you have any questions about CAM or undercover Chicago police officer “Danny Edwards”, or have had interactions with “Danny” you are concerned about, contact us at chicagoactionmedical@riseup.net.

Street Medic Training in Durango, CO!

We are pleased to announce that Grace Keller, CAM member, will be co-training along with members of FLAME and MASM at a street medic training at Wild Roots Feral Futures in June. You can sign up for the training using the form below — please make sure you can attend the full 20 hours before committing!

This year’s WRFF is the 5th Annual Direct Action, Eco-Defense, & Rewilding Encampment in the Wild Rockies of Southwest Colorado and will be held on June 15-23, 2013. More info: http://feralfutures.blogspot.com/

Punk Rock Karaoke!

Join us this Saturday, April 6, 2013 from 21:00 to 02:00 (9 pm to 2 am) at the LiveWire Lounge at 3394 N Milwaukee Ave for PUNK ROCK KARAOKE, a benefit for Chicago Action Medical. Sing your favorite songs, meet friends, and make fools out of yourselves! (Don’t worry, we’ll be on hand to treat those burns.)

Mark your calendars and RSVP on our Facebook Event Page!

This event is 21+

Suggested donation: $5.

About Punk Rock Karaoke:

Punk Rock Karaoke Chicago brings you one-of-a-kind punk rock songs for you to sing (or scream!) along to. We’re a DIY, fund-raising event that benefits a different community group each time. Come out, have a great time, and support the cause!!