Bond denied for NATO protester recharged in Chicago after case was dismissed at May Preliminary Hearing

Occupy Walk USA participant Danny Johnson remains in jail after economic justice advocate turned himself in to fight reinstated charges that supporters say are driven by authorities’ severely distorted “priorities.” Advocates are calling for his immediate release.

 

CHICAGO, IL  – NATO opponents are accusing State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez of severely distorted priorities after her office steered a grand jury to reinstate charges against NATO protester Danny Johnson, whose case was thrown out by a judge at a preliminary hearing in May for lack of probable cause. Johnson was then secretly indicted by the State’s Attorney’s Office on June 29 with an additional felony charge. Johnson had originally been accused of only one count of aggravated battery of a police officer during a May 15 immigrant rights protest held in conjunction with the week of NATO-related protests. Now Johnson is charged with two counts of aggravated battery for a crime that both Johnson and eyewitnesses refute.

Johnson, who is currently in jail, was denied bond in Cook County Circuit Court today. The case is scheduled for a bond hearing on August 7.

Johnson is a member of Occupy LA and Occupy Walk USA, a national walk-a-thon from the west coast to the east coast to advocate for economic justice. In February, he began walking from San Diego to New York with other participants as part of the campaign, and was in New York when he learned about Alvarez’ move to recriminalize him.

Because Johnson had no permanent address at the time of his surprise indictment, a bench warrant was issued against him. He returned to Chicago and surrendered to authorities in mid- July after hearing of the indictment and bench warrant, where authorities took him into custody.

“Danny Johnson returned to Chicago to turn himself in because he is innocent and wants to fight these charges,” says Micah Philbrook of Occupy Chicago, which participated in organizing NATO-related protests. “It’s both telling and outrageous that State’s Attorney Alvarez is willing to criminalize dissent – and re-criminalize a peaceful protester – at the same time that she refuses to hold the police officers who killed Rekia Boyd and Stephon Watts responsible for their crimes. Johnson should be immediately released.”

The National Lawyers Guild is representing Johnson, and is committed to fighting the charges against him. Occupy Chicago has formed a committee to support those charged with serious crimes during the NATO week of actions. In particular, the so-called NATO 5, most of whom were charged with state terrorism crimes, are fervently supported and receive regular jail visits. For information on this efforts, visit: http://nato5.occupychi.org/
“Why are we wasting resources persecuting political activists when our city is mired in a crisis of police accountability?” asks Joe Iosbaker of the Committee Against Political Repression. “The police are still patting themselves on the back for brutalizing demonstrators during NATO, while the State’s Attorney’s office refuses to prosecute the crimes of police officers against torture victims and targets of police brutality – including people the police have murdered. Where are our priorities?”