By Christopher Bollyn9-11 Investigative Journalist Beaten By Undercover CopsTue Aug 22, 2006 13:25
9-11 Investigative Journalist Harassed And Beaten By Undercover Cops
By Christopher Bollyn
Last summer, I was surprised to learn that two local people who had befriended us were actually FBI informants who had been tasked to monitor my family. For this reason we feel vulnerable in our home and are reluctant to spend time here.
This summer, however, we were compelled to return to our modest suburban tract house in Hoffman Estates, Illinois (outside of Chicago) that has been the family home since 1957 because our travel-weary children missed their beloved home so badly.
Since returning in July, I have noticed an unusual amount of police activity around my house, which lies on a quiet side street where one normally sees a police cruiser once or twice a week.
On Aug. 14, as I rode my bike to the store, I noticed a most unusual vehicle approaching my house. It was an unmarked car with three well-armed men wearing body armor. It looked like the kind of car that one might expect to see in occupied Baghdad.
The next evening, I happened to step outside at the precise moment the same car slowly passed in front of my house where the neighborhood kids were playing.
Surprised by this coincidence, I yelled from my porch, “Hello, FBI,” and waved.
The man sitting in the front passenger seat waved back. Alarmed, I immediately alerted my wife and kids. My wife suggested I ask the non-uniformed agents about what they are doing in our neighborhood. I had had a busy work day having made several phone calls to the Israeli Embassy, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Most of my calls were related to ongoing 9-11 research.
One of the more interesting calls was to a Mr. Shalom Yoran, a New York-based former officer in the Israeli air force who happens to be the former president of Bedek, the parent company of Israel Aircraft Industries. Because he managed a private aircraft leasing company that ceased to operate shortly after 9-11, I am interested in his opinion about what happened on that day.
As I rode my bike to the store, I became increasingly troubled about the dark car with armed agents I had seen passing in front of my house. Because my neighborhood does not have any crime or gang problems, I found it very odd that the undercover quasi-military squad should be patrolling around my house day after day.
Concerned about the safety of my family, I called 911 to report that a suspicious car with armed men, who I thought to be federal agents, was loitering in my neighborhood for no apparent reason. I was told that a police officer would meet me at my house in 20 minutes.
Minutes after I reached my home, I was surprised to see the very same suspicious car stop in front of my house and three armed and armor-clad men standing on my driveway.
With my wife and 8-year old daughter beside me, I went into my yard and asked the men who they were and why they were loitering around my house.
“Why are you driving around with this gear and unmarked car menacing our neighborhood,” I asked? “Who are you?”
The non-uniformed agents were unwilling to identify themselves or to address my concerns and maintained a hostile and confrontational attitude throughout.
Seeking the support of my brother, I turned to my house when the three men tackled me and used a Taser gun to shock me into submission.
After violently subduing me, one officer knelt on my head and another on my arm, as I was handcuffed.
Within two minutes, at least a half-dozen police cars, two fire trucks, and 15 police officers, including a senior officer, had arrived at the Bollyn residence.
While I was being held down, my wife went to get a camera. An officer told her that she would be arrested if she dared to take any photos. However, according to a lawyer, it is illegal to prevent someone from photographing a police assault.
Having witnessed her father being violently arrested, my 8-year-old daughter was very distraught and crying. The police ordered my wife to take her away.
As the Bollyn children have seen much of the world and witnessed major political events in their lives, my wife simply consoled our daughter and allowed her to watch the abuse of police power, saying, “This is our new America.”
“Go back where you came from,” a police officer, in a most insulting manner, told my wife, a Swedish citizen.
While I have received several death threats during my career with AFP and
the court-killed Spotlight, this is the first time I have actually been beaten and abused by authorities.
Sitting in the unmarked car, Tasered and handcuffed, I was enraged as the
officer named Fitzgerald indulged in offending me and my late mother. I was unable to contain my anger hearing him insult my late mother, one of
the founding pioneers of the village.
Fitzgerald then repeatedly told me that I was going to be beaten.
“This guy is going to beat the [expletive] out of you,” he said when a senior officer approached the car. When I repeated his words and asked him what he said, Fitzgerald would simply lie, saying, “I didn’t say that.”
This verbal abuse continued during the drive to the station. When I would lean forward, the officer would quickly slam on the brakes so my head hit the plexiglass separation window. After doing this several times, I held myself back on the seat and didn’t say another word.
At the station, a host of 10-12 rubber-gloved cops awaited me in the police garage. As Fitzgerald drove in to the garage, he told the gang: “He says cops are a bunch of [expletive]. You take care of him now.”
When I was pulled from the car, I told the police I am a journalist and that I would write about the arrest.
The verbal abuse then came from all sides. The son of village pioneers, I was most offended by those who said I should get out of town, an insult I found to be particularly painful.
In the station, my shirt was quickly ripped off and I was left in my shorts and an undershirt. Asked why I was being detained, an officer said I had resisted arrest and threatened the police with clenched fists—two complete fabrications.
I was subsequently charged with resisting arrest and aggravated assault, which resulted in six hours of abuse at the hands of the local police.
I was thrown into a cell without water. When I asked the undercover police unit why they had been prowling around my house, they said, “We are watching you.”
Thirsty, I asked for some water and was told, “Drink from the toilet.”
“Why am I being treated this way?” I wondered.
Later, an officer named Schultz came to tell me that because I had been shocked with a Taser gun, paramedics had been called to check me. However, no paramedics came to check me or to look at my injured elbow.
At midnight, an officer told me that I had to pay $100 to get out. “What am I being charged with?” I protested. “I called 911 and the police beat me up in my front yard for no reason.”
My brother paid my bail and shortly after midnight I was pushed out onto
the dark streets for the long walk home.
I have good reason to believe that this operation was neither accidental nor an initiative of the local police. Whether this is how the Hoffman Estates police treat all arrests or if I received special treatment as part of an ADL-FBI operation remains an open question.
Shortly after the arrest, AFP managing editor Christopher J. Petherick spoke with Lt. Richard Russo, acting press spokesman for the Hoffman Estates Police Department, on Aug. 16.
Russo faxed American Free Press a copy of the “Media Information Release Form,” which provided details about my arrest.
Russo told Petherick the undercover officers were engaged in something called “gang suppression” in my neighborhood.
Petherick asked Russo how a resident’s 911 call could have escalated to the point that police officers threw that unarmed man to the ground and shot him with a Taser.
Russo told Petherick that the arresting officer had “physically” stopped me and Tasered me because I had made statements indicating that I was “going to go inside the house and get a weapon.” However, this charge is completely false and was most likely fabricated after the fact in an obvious attempt to justify the armed agents’ use of extreme force.
When AFP received the press release from the police, the allegation that I was going into my house to get a weapon had been dropped and replaced with phrasing that the officers felt I “may be trying to get a weapon.”
“Keep in mind that Christopher, who has no criminal record, was the person who called the police in the first place,” Petherick noted.
“There are really two key scenarios at play here,” Petherick said. “At a minimum, this was a brutal demonstration of the violent militarization of U.S. law enforcement. At its worst, this could be a deliberate attempt to intimidate and harass an American reporter, who has been writing about some of the most controversial issues in the world today.”
The following day, Chief Clint Herdegen contacted me, but would only say that he was not prepared to answer any questions. My day in court is scheduled for Sept. 13.
Readers who would like to contribute to a legal fund for Christopher Bollyn, can make a tax-deductible donation to The Christopher Bollyn Legal Fund, care of The Foundation to Defend the First Amendment, 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Suite 100, Washington, D.C. 20003. Please make your check or money order out to “FDFA.”
(Issue #35, August 28, 2006)
If you would like to know my personal philosophy, turn on your speakers and watch the following little flash presentation:
For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it. ~ ~ ~ Patrick Henry
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