Who the Hell Are the Fabulous 4? Report from the Police Riot Against Queers at Bash Back '09


Not to be confused with the Fantabulous 4, four Boston-area anarchists who, in 2008, shut down a Bank of America in protest of the bank's funding of mountaintop removal coal mining, the Fabulous 4 are folks facing serious charges after a Chicago police riot against queers this past May.

On Saturday, May 30, a queertastic crowd of approximately 100 were walking in Chicago's Boystown area (also known as "gay nightclub strip"). While walking, the crowd found itself too large to fit on the sidewalk, so people naturally moved into the street. After walking for a few blocks, the crowd made its way around a police car passing through the street before reaching an intersection blocked by police. This forced people to turn onto a residential street, and before they realized what was going on, the tail-end of the group was flanked by police.

Within seconds, cops ran patrol cars into people's legs. Then, getting out of their cars, cops ran into the crowd and grabbed queers to beat with batons and extendable ASPs. They dragged people into the street and slammed them against fences and asphalt. Some ran for cover into alleys or onto fire escapes. A scream pierced through the chaos when the cops ran over someone's foot.

Onlookers shouted at police from their houses, sidewalks and nightclubs. Passersby stopped to watch, and some of them yelled that we needed to get together and riot against the police. Some neighbors even gave us refuge from the police violence.

It appeared that the most-targeted individuals were those who conformed less to binary systems of gender. This was evidenced in the continued targeting of one of the eventual arrestees, when a cisgendered person put herself between the cop and his target and, instead of being hit, was told, "Move it!"

Injuries suffered by people that night included a broken foot, bruised ribs (three people, one of whom developed pneumonia), a bruised kidney, sprained fingers with accompanying infection, separated shoulder ligaments, soft tissue damage to the elbow, and uncountable bruises, cuts and scrapes (at least seven went to the emergency room).

In the end, four were arrested and spent the remainder of the night being harassed and tormented by police at the holding facility in Boystown, handcuffed to benches next to each other for approximately seven hours. There, they were forced to endure homo- and trans-phobic, violent cops who threatened and verbally abused the four, tag-team style. The arrestees were mocked for their choices of hairstyle/dress/gender presentation; referred to with object pronouns (e.g. "What is THAT?"); threatened with rape and further beatings. They were released at 8 o'clock the next morning. (There is no doubt a direct link between their timely release and the pressure created by carloads of queers who arrived en masse outside of the jail that morning.) Needless to say, it was a traumatizing experience, and a few of them cried for joy upon seeing the sunlight and their friends' faces.

The [Chicago] Fabulous 4, as they dubbed themselves, are Adam, Styles, Rye and Alex, who collectively face two felony aggravated assault on police charges and seven misdemeanor charges. Many have interpreted these charges as code for "unwilling to be arrested for no reason."

On Aug. 7, 20 comrades filled the Cook County courtroom in a show of court solidarity. There was moral support from the community in Chicago and legal support from a local radical law group and the Fab4's legal support team.

Almost all of the charges against the Fabulous 4 were dropped. One of the four took a "continuance" plea deal in order to be done with the emotionally and financially draining legal process. In most states, this type of deal is known as "continuance for dismissal" actions, in which the person is only charged with the alleged crime if they are arrested a second time in that state within a given time frame. Since this person is not living in Illinois, we're definitely counting the four-month agreement as a win.

Check out http://chicagofabfour.blogspot.com/ for updated info.

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