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May-29-2012 20:03printcommentsVideo

Chicago Police Forcibly Detain and Humiliate 75-Year Old Oregon Great-Grandmother at NATO Protest

Treasured Oregon activist seized by police in Chicago during NATO Occupy Demonstration.

75-year old Portland resistance activist Nan Wigmore
75-year old Portland resistance activist Nan Wigmore

(PORTLAND, OR) - 75-year old Portland resistance activist Nan Wigmore is undaunted after a harrowing experience in Chicago earlier this month; she even feels like she learned a few things and I'm sure that's true; after all what doesn't kill us often does make us wiser.

For many years, this inspiring Oregonian has made the headlines from her native Portland, to national news, for her activism. The lion's share of her peace comrades today are with the Portland Occupy movement.

But this story more than anything, is about police abuse and disregard in Chicago against a senior citizen, and Nan's being pulled into the Windy City's worst depths of depravity, all courtesy of the Chicago Police, is a blemish on the American landscape.

If officials in this city believe people are not paying attention they should think twice. This SHOCKING account of her experience reveals many aspects of this police agency that make it very much resemble our worst fears.

Salem-News.com's Tim King & Gail Parker-
who just happens to be Nan Wigmore's sister.

Nan, incidentally, is the sister of our team writer Gail Parker in Argentina, who along with her husband Eddie Zawaski, has authored many fascinating reports here. Gail is also known for photographing the most beautiful exotic birds in her South American country.

I'm not surprised that these incredible women are sisters, and it makes me angrier as I write this story that should never have to be written. Nan is well known in Portland's Mt. Tabor, a smiling face known for years and years at similar events, and her protest is nothing U.S. President Thomas Jefferson would not have firmly approved of, particularly in the face of genuine government tyranny.

Government Versus the People?

Amerika is not a free country. Let's get that straight. It is for some people some of the time, and that is as good as it gets here. We may be better off than many, even most; we have brave forces willing to fulfill their nation's call, but we are losing what we once at least thought we had, and it is going to get very ugly before it is over. Congress as we all know, has stripped our civil rights under Obama and Americans suspected of 'terror' acts can not be jailed without charges, and detained indefinitely; even U.S. citizens. People are losing respect for police and government, if they ever had it in the first place. This is an undeniable fact. A few more will switch over after learning what happened to Nan last week.

Media Coverage

Click to see full report. Photo by Miranda Leitsinger/msnbc

MSNBC's Miranda Leitsinger used the sensational title, Great-grandma: Ready to 'lose' my life protesting, while covering this legendary activist who traveled from the Pacific Northwest to take part in the demonstration. However that does probably size up Nan in many ways, she said quickly in our conversation, "I'm willing to get out there and do things but I don't see myself as brave," which is very close to what other friends of mine say, who are absolute heroes in every respect[1].

"I'm not brave"- as she faces down 250 lb. cops with attitudes. Humility accompanies the presence of those who do the very most in this world, this is a fact that bears out time and time again throughout history. Self-sacrifice and real dedication are not lost virtues, but they are rare. Leitsinger's review of Nan's visit was really quite fair, and demonstrates the celebrity of this Queen of Occupy:

    Nan Wigmore brought her walker and packed her sign, “Grateful Great Grandmas Circle The Wagons, Support Occupy,” and rode on a bus for some three days, sleeping in the same clothes, to make it to the NATO protests in Chicago.

    The 75-year-old from Portland, Ore., says she couldn't imagine being anywhere else despite the discomfort of her journey.

Regarding the NATO protests in Chicago, CBS News wrote:

    The ranks of the more violence-prone participants had been thoroughly infiltrated by undercover officers days ago, including three arrested last week who prosecutors accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism[2].

"To protect and serve... who was that again?"

What they don't reference, is the police brutality that took place. They mention three arrested for 'conspiracy to commit terrorism' which leads us to fearing the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is being 'tested out' in another bogus bombing arrest, but fail to mention that Chicago Police used a taxpayer-funded law enforcement vehicle to run down three demonstrators and then flee from the scene like a common criminal, in a scene that brings to mind the Egyptian military vehicles running down and smashing revolutionary protestors to death under their fascist tracks in Tahrir Square[3].

Nan said this incident involving police using a vehicle to strike demonstrators, was on the minds of many at the demonstration in Chicago. Nan didn't specifically see the police vehicle running down the people, but she believed it took place. It didn't take a lot of searching to find considerable documentation of this police crime that the mainstream from what I am seeing, has not examined.

The following is from the islandbreath blog

Video above: Chicago Police van runs into crowd of NATO demonstrators.

Saturday night, at about 10:40PM local time, a Chicago Police van "drove into a crowd of demonstrators who were attempting to cross westbound over the Jackson Street bridge at the Chicago River," according to this video report and testimony from people who were present.

Chicago Police van number 6751, accelerated as it passed through the crowd, striking several people and seriously injuring one victim who was later transported to the emergency room. The extent of the victim's injuries are not known. The driver of the van made no attempt to ascertain the condition of any of the people that were struck.

Witnesses watched as the van passed through the phalanx of police surrounding the scene and drove away from the area. Had there been a civilian driving, they would certainly have been charged with a hit-and-run on a pedestrian in the roadway and taken into custody once they had been apprehended. No order to disperse had been given to the crowd[4].

Visiting Chicago

Nan is serious about peace. The First Lady of Occupy in
- as The 4th Media - Just Another Voice dubbed her,
evolved from this mess with her head held high.

I asked Nan if she had any pre-conceived notions about Chicago; she had never traveled there in the past to take part in a demonstration, so she really didn't know what to expect. "I heard what others were saying, they talked about the potential this protest had for becoming violent. But I can't let myself be ruled by fear, so I figured I'd just go and find out for myself".

She said things were going well on the day of the protest's largest turnout. Speakers from Veterans for Peace (VFP) offered words that she said overpowered the crowd. After the Veterans spoke, she said it was extremely quiet and solemn. "There was a hush, a quietness... and then a sudden rush". Police moved in on the peaceful crowd at this point, after the extremely moving speech from VFP.

Nan remembers thinking, "Aren't these police moved by those words from the veterans?" She said she was surprised that anyone had a dry eye, and that is when everything suddenly changed. She said she yelled, "Why? Why? This is peacekeeping, stop it!" But her cries did not quell the ambitions of the jack boot heavily armed riot police.

She says the police moved on other protestors quickly, and seemed to avoid her, but soon she had the attention of officers, and they removed her from the protest against her will, taking and never returning her walker, her computer equipment, her money, her medicine, everything she had except the clothes on her back. Even at this point, she felt the demeaning end of the police treatment, "I felt like they looked at me and thought, 'put her away'".

Nan says the police didn't know what to do with her because she wasn't being disruptive or breaking the law. Obviously what they should have done, was to leave her alone. But the police had other plans, and it is no secret that Nan is an engaged activist to say the least. Her sister Gail shared some of Nan's past with me earlier today.

    Nan jumped the fence at Trojan Nuclear Power Plant many years ago. She was such a beautiful young woman that they put her photo on the front page of the Oregonian. Now one of the creepy blogs is writing horrid ageist stuff and mean cruel remarks about her.

She told me she still has a copy of that newspaper front page, it was a different time when that took place, however maybe not in Chicago, where police were ordered to attack media and protestors famously, during the 1968 Democratic Convention. The place is known for police having cold treatment toward its citizens. Nan's account proves that it is possibly more true today than ever.

When the Chicago cops took Nan into custody against her will, they gave her a show she will never forget. She was placed in an ambulance, and then police began bringing other protestors that they had attacked and injured, to the same location, apparently planning to load these injured into the same waiting ambulance[5].

Chicago Police officers take Nan into custody

One bloody man was placed in the ambulance. Two more were outside and Nan could see them. One was grievously injured and having trouble breathing.

She said the police knew this man was badly hurt, and they were interrogating him, when he couldn't even lift his head from the ground, as he was treated by medics, covered in blood.

"It was like watching a movie, it really was," Nan told me during an extensive conversation on the phone Tuesday night. "The police were so angry, interrogating this man and screaming at him things like, 'I'm going to stuck this (baton) down your throat' and things of that nature. It was truly uncalled for and the man was not even able to comprehend what they were shouting at him".

She says the man began to regain consciousness and began answering questions from the police. "I looked over at him and said, 'You don't have to tell them anything, remember the First Amendment' and then he quit talking to them".

Then a strange thing happened. The ambulance was closed up and Nan and the bloody man were driven about two blocks away. "It was as if they just wanted to get us out of sight," Nan said. None of it seemed to make sense, and she had already clearly informed the officials that she was not injured and did not need to be treated medically. She asked police officers about her walker and property and that is when the man in the ambulance with her seemed to suddenly awake. The battered-looking fellow clearly told her that her walker was, "smashed and scattered". This struck her with curiosity, as the walker contained her personal data, including contact information for people in her network of peace activists. We already know from the admission of police and media, that 'undercover' officers were planted in many places, Nan was not certain when it was all over, if the supposedly injured man in the ambulance was real, or possibly an undercover cop.

At this point, all of Nan's personal property remains missing in Chicago and the police have been of no assistance in her attempt to reclaim her property.

Women of Character and Strength

I can't help but find a parallel between Nan and one of my great heroes, Holocaust Survivor and Activst for Palestinian Rights: Hedy Epstein, who is a few years senior to Nan.

In Nan's story about Chicago and this account of what happened during a government crackdown on a protest in Cairo in late 2009, the group Veterans for Peace is closely related, I never will forget the heated moments relayed to our newsroom from Egypt during an international hunger strike in Cairo outside of the US embassy to raise awareness about the need to open Gaza's borders.

It was horrifying to learn that Egyptian police actually threatened Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, who intended to make a strong political statement about Gaza. In her article about that day, Shoeless in Cairo, Mary Hughes-Thompson says they tried to keep space around Hedy, as Egyptian Security Forces were pushed and squeezed.

They stayed together for many hours, held tightly in their circle by the police. Finally members of Americans from Veterans for Peace came to her rescue. All I can say, is that by and large, people in the US who live lives highly wrapped up in their day to day affairs, can not comprehend the heart of a person like Hedy Epstein...

Hedy Epstein is humanity. When she was 14 in 1939, her parents found a way for her to escape the persecution, sending her on the Kindertransport to England. Epstein never saw her parents again; they perished in Auschwitz in 1942. After World War II, Hedy Epstein worked as a research analyst at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi doctors who performed medical experiments on concentration camp inmates. After moving to the US, Epstein became an activist for peace and social justice causes; one of the causes she has taken up is that of the Palestinian people. Like Nan, she is unwavering in her support of those she rallies for [6][7].

This is not America

Injuries that Nan saw among the Chicago NATO protestors in one fairly brief window of time numbered no less than 15 she said, "At least that many". Ambulances had already arrived at the hospital with patients, and more were continuing to arrive.

She saw people brought in who were seriously injured; head and chest injuries; one person had a broken wrist; another a broken finger.

Apparently Chicago PD believes they can simply beat the peaceful ambitions out of these protestors who gathered to give a strong message to NATO about the increasingly unwinnable and unpopular war in Afghanistan. This city; homeland of the U.S. President... does not allow the basic freedom of assembly granted to all Americans.

Nan arrived at the hospital but she wasn't admitted as a patient, she wasn't one. In her mind, quite logically, her being taken to a hospital lobby and dropped off without her personal possessions made no sense at all.

She left and was walking the streets of Chicago with nothing more than the clothes on her back thanks to police. She takes epilepsy medicine But the police took that from her too. Her money was gone, so there was no way for her to easily replace this mandatory medication.

"I walked the different streets, it was 1:00 a.m. then 2:00 and 3:00. By 3:30 I had sat down on a concrete bench and it was cold," Nan said. This is when the story becomes even more disturbing.

The biggest letdown of all came when Nan approached police officers for help several times in those early morning hours, and every time, with no exception, the police would not talk to her, and immediately depart from her when she attempted to tell them that she was out in the cold with no ID or money or meds.

I find this to be among the most disheartening elements of the story, because it seems clear that police in this Illinois city are programmed not to assist seniors in harm. That surely means a death sentence for a fragile 75-year old woman, but the police must reason that they deserve it.

They should be ashamed of themselves, and always; things like this are a product of the administration, and in this case that is Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is very close to the Obama Administration.

Chip Off the Old Block?

Irgun, the army of Rahm Emanuel's father, is short for Irgun
Zvai Leumi- "National Military Organization" in Hebrew, was
a terrorist Zionist group that operated in Palestine, killing
innocent Palestinians and British soldiers; blowing up buildings

He doesn't like to advertise it, but the Mayor of Chicago is the son of a famous terrorist from the Irgun group in Palestine, that committed mass murder against British forces in the late 1940's. Emanuel's Irgun was involved in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem that left many dead, and their group openly boasted about it.

Benjamin Emanuel's personal 'specialty' was the bombing of buses carrying British troops and policeman during the British Mandate in Palestine. Additionally, he was part of the Israeli assassin team that Murdered Sweden's Count Bernadotte in 1948. According to an article by Wayne Madsen, "With a record of terrorist acts contained in his MI6 files, Benjamin Emanuel was permitted by U.S. authorities to emigrate to Chicago from Israel in the 1950's, becoming a citizen. Rahm Emanuel was born in 1959."[8]

When the mayor of a city is reared by a terrorist, mass murdering father, little hope is left for the dreams of freedom-loving Americans. You know the old saying: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Those jack booted cops in Chicago beating and terrorizing innocent protestors who are unarmed, are Emanuel's boys.

After being ignored by police several times, it occurred to Nan that they were perceiving her as a homeless woman. "I felt embarrassed", she said in recalling the whole thing. "I felt like a homeless person walking around all night, but that is fine because I want to know more about that, and I truly learned how it feels". Eventually two security guards took pity on her, and they directed her right back to the hospital she had initially been taken to.

Actual video of Nan being taken away by police

During this long ordeal, Nan reached the point where she badly needed to find a restroom. In fact she didn't make it to the bathroom on time, and, becoming a bit flustered, she mistook the men's restroom at the hospital for the women's. (Aren't many hospital bathrooms for both sexes?) What a mistake that turned out to be.

She was disrobed in order to at least remove her soaked underpants when 5 to 7 men, three cops and three or four hospital personnel burst in and demanded to know why she was in there, "I made a mistake, have you never made a mistake?" she said. Finally they gave her a hospital gown and a blanket to cover herself and sent her out again. Nan remarkably did find her way to the home where she was staying that night, thank goodness, and the next day she was back at the Occupy protest, with only the hospital gown and a blanket, walking in the parade. I admire her ability to find comedy in such a bleak situation, she truly is remarkable.

The hospital would also qualify as 'inhospitable' according to this kind woman. She said the staff as well as the hospital-based police, were cold. "It was shameful, even the staff was demeaning. It is hard to conceive that people would actually do that, but that is how it was," Nan said. Chicago's finest certainly were not the only supposedly trusted officials doling out the shitty treatment to Nan.

She said it was in fact a Chicago Police officer who directed her back to the area of the Occupy camp after she left the hospital for the final time.

Room for Hope

As we talked about all of this, I mentioned that even though the police in this time are often criminal, even worse... there are those among them who are nothing of the sort, and it is a good thing.

Nan said, "I saw light in the eyes of some of the Chicago Police, I truly did, and they were going through the motions, but they were not vindictive or cruel". She says that gave her some degree of hope for this city, but overall, it is a sad story. The police hurt many people, they are being directed to do this, and they are being allowed to do this.

Those who believe that the citizens are going to continue to continually accept violent treatment, are wrong. Protestors who do sport violent intentions, and it is rare, do this in direct response to police violence. Even our grandmothers aren't safe around police in Chicago, and we won't forget this any time soon.

This is the Website for the Chicago Police Board.

Article References:

[1] Great-grandma: Ready to 'lose' my life protesting - MSNBC

[2] 1000s protest the Chicago NATO summit - Dean Reynolds - CBS News

[3] U.S. Senate has just passed a bill that effectively ends the Bill of Rights in America - Salem-News.com (Note: story has 34k facebook 'likes')

[4] islandbreath blog

[5] Occupy Portland

[6] Egypt's Bittersweet Reality - Power to the People - Story by Tim King Video by Ken O'Keefe Salem-News.com

[7] Shoeless in Cairo - Mary Hughes-Thompson Special to Salem-News.com

[8] Rahm Emanuel's Father Specialized in Bus Bombings in Palestine - Wayne Madsen Special to Salem-News.com


Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com.

Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 20+ countries and regions.

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Luke Easter May 30, 2012 7:29 pm (Pacific time)

Actual point is, yes they are Chicago Cops. However, watching the, "Dirty Dozen" the part where the guys changed their arm bands... Sure they are and at the same time not cops. An arm band doesn't make you a cop anymore than hanging out at IHOP makes you a pancake. Hey, these guys were only following orders. Question is, what idiot was giving them?

Gp May 30, 2012 9:24 am (Pacific time)

I just would like to add that Nan is kind and wise but also tough as nails.

Douglas Benson May 30, 2012 6:48 am (Pacific time)

Gee Luke thats funny, that looks like Chicago Police markings on thier arm badges.

Luke Easter May 30, 2012 5:41 am (Pacific time)

Negative! That was Chicago Security because Chicago Police were on the city's South and West side where 10 were shot and 2 were killed on that same day. Come on Tim, just because you live in a small city don't knock the big ones. Why would Real Police mess with innocent, non-violent, unarmed, Grandma when they could be fighting real crime they are trained for against heavily armed thugs. Don't be a hater St. Timothy.

Gee, what was I thinking Brother Luke?  Right, if I place Shy-Town in a category with other small cities I've spent time in like Kabul and Baghdad then it all starts to make sense.  They use innocent security guards there too, same way, they're called 'blackwater'  LOL, thanks for the smile,

Matt Johnson May 30, 2012 5:39 am (Pacific time)

This is an utter outrage, they have no right to do this, the chicago cops, even if they are getting away with it. I can only imagine the bad karma and what makes people belong to agencies that are so damned abusive, time for a new government!

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