Charges dismissed against three Hale demonstrators

The Cook County States Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against three Chicago men who had been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct during white supremacist Matthew Hale’s January visit to Northwestern.

The charges were dropped March 8 when Chicago residents Bernard Branche, 48, of the 5400 block of Swooplawn; Daniel Smith of the 1400 block of Argyle Street; and Marc Vesecky, 50, of the 2300 block of Sunnyside Avenue appeared in Cook County Municipal Court.

The three men are supporters of the Spartacist League, said Cheri James, spokeswoman for the league. The league is one of several groups that protested Hale’s appearance Jan. 21 in front of the Technological Institute, 2145 Sheridan Road.

“The charges were bogus to begin with,” James said. “(The police) specifically went after anti-fascist protesters.”

Branche, Smith and Vesecky were the only three demonstrators arrested after violence broke out when Hale arrived at Tech. The protest spilled onto Sheridan Road, blocking traffic. After 20 minutes, police escorted Hale away from more than 200 demonstrators.

Branche’s worker’s union sent a letter to the Cook County States Attorney’s office in February requesting that the charges be dropped. The letter said the men’s actions were “far from being a crime” and that physically forcing Hale off campus was “a victory for working people and minorities in the Chicago area.”