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Protesters: Where did cops take our pals?

William Vassilakis 25 Chicago lives one apartments raided by police. | Art Golab~Sun-Times

William Vassilakis, 25, of Chicago, lives in one of the apartments raided by police. | Art Golab~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 1, 2012 11:56AM



Some NATO protesters claimed police broke into a Bridgeport apartment building Wednesday night without a warrant, arrested as many as eight people and held them in an undisclosed location.

Protesters’ legal teams said they tracked the arrested protesters Thursday to the police department’s organized crime division headquarters in an old warehouse near Kedzie and Fillmore, but that for most of the day, police refused to even acknowledge that the raid had taken place.

“Basically they were disappeared for nearly 24 hours,” said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the National Lawyers Guild, which is representing the protesters. “We have been searching all morning and afternoon. . . . We’ve been checking in with police officials at the highest levels; they have consistently refused give us information.”

He added that police showed up four hours after the arrests with a search warrant that didn’t appear to have been signed by a judge and confiscated beer-making equipment and a cellphone.

Around 6 p.m. police notified their attorneys that two people were in custody, Hermes said.

A police spokesman said the department had no comment.

Zoe Sigman, a resident of one of the raided apartments, said she did not go home last night after she found out that her building, near 33rd and Morgan, was surrounded by police.

“I’d like to stress that we have done nothing wrong,” Sigman said. “We have been planning to protest NATO and there is nothing illegal about expressing our feelings about a war machine. Now we’re being treated as mere criminals. As if we’re part an organized crime that they’re trying to take down. Who knows what they’re going to pin on us. We’re terrified.”

William Vassilakis, 25, of Chicago, lives in and leases one of the raided apartments. “Nothing that we’ve done is criminal. There was no warrant. We have been terrorized in an extreme way,” he said.

In response to the alleged arrests, more than 50 protesters marched Thursday night from Wellington United Church of Christ in Lake View through residential streets of Lake View and Lincoln Park.

Stefano Esposito and Diana Novak



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