253 N.E.2d 400 (Ill. 1969), 41117, City of Chicago v. Meyer

Docket Nº:41117.
Citation:253 N.E.2d 400, 44 Ill.2d 1
Party Name:The CITY OF CHICAGO, Appellee, v. Karl MEYER, Appellant.
Case Date:November 26, 1969
Court:Supreme Court of Illinois

Page 400

253 N.E.2d 400 (Ill. 1969)

44 Ill.2d 1

The CITY OF CHICAGO, Appellee,


Karl MEYER, Appellant.

No. 41117.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

November 26, 1969.

[44 Ill.2d 2] Paul E. Goldstein and Marshall Patner, Chicago, for appellant.

Raymond F. Simon, Corp. Counsel, Chicago (Marvin E. Aspen and John J. George, Asst. Corp. Counsel, of counsel), for appellee.

Page 401


Karl Meyer appeals from a conviction of disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer in the discharge of his duties under chapters 193--I and II--33, respectively, of the Municipal Code of Chicago. He was fined $200 on the first charge and $100 on the second charge. A constitutional question gives us jurisdiction.

At his trial defendant, who had funds to retain counsel, chose to represent himself, refused appointed counsel, waived a jury and cross-examination of the City's witnesses and put in his own defense. He testified that he wanted to 'communicate to the public in Chicago some ideas about the Viet Nam war.' He first selected as his site for his 'Viet Nam Forum' a school yard located in an area known as 'Old Town'. However, the Chicago Board of Education denied his request to use the school yard on every Friday and Saturday evening in July and August because the light was inadequate and the yard was intended for playground purposes. When defendant and his associates arrived at the school yard on June 30 an attorney from the school board informed them that they could not use the school yard. They then moved their table, literature and banners on to the sidewalk. A police officer told them they could not erect a table and chairs on the sidewalk. Defendant testified: 'So we [44 Ill.2d 3] took down the tables and chairs and proceeded to speak there, and we held the forum that night. And there wasn't any trouble, and there were a lot of officers protecting us and watching and keeping the sidewalk clear. And we held the forum on subsequent nights--July 1st and then the next weekend--Friday and Saturday of the next weekend. In each case there were police officers there and there was no disturbance, and we held the forum.' In describing the meeting defendant said, 'A lot of people spoke and a lot of people--it's an open forum and we let anyone speak that wanted to speak'.

There is no dispute as to the events preceding defendant's arrest on July 14, 1967. About 8:45 P.M. he stood on a 5-gallon can and began his talk. There was a large sign behind him and there was a shopping cart filled with pamphlets next to him. Four or five of his associates also spoke and distributed the pamphlets. A crowd of 100 to 200 persons gathered. The sidewalk was obstructed and pedestrians walked into the street to get around the crowd. About 11:00 P.M. the gathering had become loud and boisterous. Several servicemen in uniform argued with defendant and his friends about the policy in Viet Nam. One of defendant's associates reported a fight in the crowd to officer O'Malley. Two spectators tore down the sign and a person sympathetic to defendant picked it up. A fight was about to ensue over this incident when officer O'Malley appeared and calmed the situation. Some spectators then set fire to some leaflets. The plainclothed officers finally dispersed the crowd and officer Highland instructed defendant to move also. Defendant got back on the can and said: 'I will not move. You can arrest me if you please.' When told he was under arrest, defendant walked to the squad car without protest or incident.

Officer O'Malley testified he had witnessed about 500 demonstrations in the past two years and that in this demonstration the audience, in his opinion,...

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