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Charges filed after Occupy protest nears Mag Mile

Thursday, June 07, 2012

A Michigan man is accused of hitting a police officer in the head with a frying pan during a scuffle involving Occupy Chicago protesters.

Gary C. Wagaman, 30, was charged with felony aggravated battery of a peace officer. As many as 11 other protesters were also arrested, facing a variety of misdemeanor charges. They were greeted by supporters upon release from jail Thursday morning.

"I know I got beaten quite hard by several batons. I got kicked all over and I was thrown into the ground. Several of my friends got their faces smashed into the sidewalks," Kieran Aarons said after being released.

No one was seriously injured, according to Chicago police.

Occupy Chicago participants said they were using pots and pans to make noise during a non-violent march to Canada's Consulate on Michigan Avenue.

"People were marching last night in support of the student uprising in Quebec, around the issues of tuition hikes& marching around the country and in Chicago in support of this mass movement in Canada," Rachael Perrotta, Occupy Chicago, said.

"I don't think this is something to arrest people for. I don't think that demanding like free education is all that wrong," Katya Anger said.

Police say the scuffle began when the protesters tried to march on Michigan Avenue and officers pushed them back onto the sidewalk.

Chicago Police Spokeswoman Melissa Stratton released a statement Thursday.

"As we've demonstrated time and time again, throughout the Occupy Chicago events last fall, the May Day March and the NATO Summit weekend, the Chicago Police Department is committed to facilitating the peaceful expression of First Amendment rights, while being intolerant of criminal behavior," Stratton said. "After repeated requests by our officers to do so, some protesters refused to vacate Michigan Avenue to return the sidewalk, and instead continued to dart in and out of traffic from the sidewalk, creating a significant safety concern for vehicular traffic, uninvolved pedestrians and the protesters. In an effort to ensure their safety, as well as that of the general public and our officers, those individuals were arrested."

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