I’ve written before about political prisoners of the Occupy movement and Kevin Gosztola of The Dissenter has also written about this case, but the latest development is an especially disturbing one. Mark Neiweem is one of 5 activists charged preemptively in the lead-up to May’s NATO protests in Chicago; he is accused of “felony offense of solicitation for possession of explosives or explosive or incendiary devices,” in part based on the testimony of two police infiltrators. According to new reports from Occupy Chicago, Neiweem, better known as ‘Migs,’ was beaten by Cook County Guards and, after his release from the hospital, immediately placed in solitary confinement:
Mark Neiweem, (pronounced Nye-wame) one of the NATO5, was badly beaten by Cook County Jail Guards and placed in solitary confinement, “the hole,” for 20+ days. His lawyer confirmed that Mark spent the night in Cermak Hospital. He has stitches, his face is swollen and bruised. his ribs are sore but not broken. We, his activists and friends, cannot let this atrocity of state abuse stand.
I am in Chicago, so I asked Rachel Unterman, an occupier who has been heavily involved in supporting these political prisoners, to speak with me about the incident. According to Rachel, Migs has spent his time inside educating fellow prisoners, but it is unclear what, if anything, could have triggered this horrible attack.
Occupy Chicago has gone public with the story today, and is asking people to take action:
We are calling on every person around the world to telephone Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart at (312) 603-6444 and ask to speak with him, demanding:
What happened to Mark Neiweem?
Why was Mark Neiweem beaten so severely that he was admitted to Cermak hospital overnight?
Remove Mark from the hole now!
As Rachel points out, a great way to support the NATO 5 is by writing letters and sending pictures. OChi’s Free the NATO 5 website has a guide to writing letters to these prisoners. Occupy Austin’s Braettie Ledezma has led an effort to write to political prisoners worldwide, including Migs and other members of the NATO 5. She told me:
It’s been a cathartic experience writing to prisoners in general, but writing to Migs has been different in the way that he manages to make a strong but very warm personality light up his letters from his first reply. He has a willingness to share things with an unapologetic honesty, and I found that delightful. He shows a determination to not allow his circumstances to defeat him and even though he has grim struggles; he takes a genuine interest in the welfare of others. The courage of these guys who write to me is amazing, and Migs has no shortage of courage.
Free the NATO5!