Chicago Bans Pillowfighting, News At 11.

Is it 11 already?

For those who were not aware (and why the hell not?) today, April 4, is World Pillow Fight Day. Many cities hosted their own all-out-brawls, including Chicago.

Sadly, the Chicago event was short lived, due to the arrival of CPD, who were just a teense put out. Especially the one guy, whom I assume was the captain (or whatever the head of a bunch of cops is) who was very much in “You damn kids get off my lawn!” mode.

And, yes, five people were arrested, including yours truly.

Good times.


~ by oberon the fool on April 4, 2009.

39 Responses to “Chicago Bans Pillowfighting, News At 11.”

  1. Sweet. Baby. Jesus.

    I am so sorry. May I ask what the charges for the arrest were? Were you fined or anything?

    -Heather Mitchell
    Founder of the Chicago Pillow Fight Club

  2. Hi, Heather! Thanks for organizing the event. Maybe less feathers next year, eh? *g*

    Disorderly conduct and breach of the peace were the charges. The five of us will be appearing in court May 26th to defend our actions, and by extension, the event itself.

    I plan to submit a printed copy of the web invite showing clearly that participants were expected to clean up after themselves; and explain that, had CPD not dispersed us, we would have done so. In fact, I cleaned up quite a bit (which is why I was still around to get arrested), and the mess was considerably lessened even by the time I was taken in.

    The way I see it, the best thing CPD could have done was say “Nobody’s leaving until these feathers are cleaned up”, which would have been perfectly reasonable as far as I’m concerned.

    You guys cleaned up after last year’s bash, right?

    Anyway, I’m not too worried. There was a college student and a couple of high schoolers from Wisconsin in with me, and one guy who had weed in his backpack (d’oh!) who actually got processed first. I think the kids were/are considerably more freaked out about it, but I think the most likely thing is that we’ll all end up with a story to tell and maybe a token fine.

    How did things go after I “left”? Did you guys move elsewhere or did it just kind of die?

    • I am honestly shocked and absolutely sorry that you were arrested. I actually had to work at 3:00pm, so I passed my whistle to the nearest pillow-less girl at 2:10pm, and crossed my fingers that the volunteer clean up crew from the interwub would be thorough….

      Looks like that was a mistake! If I could be arrested for anything, it would be this. I would like to attend the court hearing if possible? I move to Seattle the 27th, so let me know the details and I will plan accordingly!

      I can have the list of clean-up volunteers fabricated for you. Crazy.

      It’s funny, too, because last year it was mucky with snow and double the number of pillowfighters and after about 20minutes of feather-scooping, we left no trace.

      I wish that I had more to report, but haven’t heard back from any of my interns, only read about the arrests at work a couple hours afterwards! I know a lawyer who is quite interested in the goings on as well.

      • Well, none of the volunteers, whomever they were, had a chance to clean up. The police broke up the fight in mid-pummel, and dispersed the crowd pretty vehemently. It was absolutely CPDs fault that the mess was not cleaned up by the participants; NOT the participants’ fault for leaving a mess for CPD to clean up. So don’t blame your volunteers for any lack of follow-through.

        Where did you read about the arrests (besides here)? I haven’t found any trace of the Chicago event on the web yet- although I did find that a few people in NYC and Detroit were also arrested.

        The hearing is May 26th at 9am at 400 W. Superior. As far as I know all five of us will be attending the same hearing.

  3. Hi I’m from Paris, France, I was there. “The chief” told me to “pu my pillow down” as it was some kind of weapon, then I left and he told me “come back and you’ll go to jail”.
    Also a friend walking WAY further with her pillow got stopped by an officer who took her pillow too, in an agressive way, saying “Give me the pillow or maybe you want to join the other locked up guys… How about that?!”
    Nice. Chicago seems really nice to me now.
    I mean, maybe it’s my fault: I should have stayed home watching TV.
    Kudos to the chief!

    • Yeah, strangely enough, they never took my pillow away. I kept waiting for them to confiscate it, but I had it with me through the entire process, even while handcuffed to the concrete bench on the holding tank. Guess it would have come in handy if I’d decided to take a nap, eh?

      Chicago is really a pretty cool place, so don’t let this one experience sour you on it.

      According to one of the officers, the recent bid for the Olympics has put the CPD in high alert mode to try to keep things peaceful and neat for the scouting committees. I also overheard a few officers mentioning that the guy who was so upset was one of “Daley’s guys” (Daley being the mayor of Chicago, since you probably don’t know that), and it seemed like most of them thought this was a bit of an overreaction. On the other hand, some were pretty upset with us. Most of them, from the impression I got, were just doing their jobs and didn’t care one way or another.

      Thanks for the comment, and have a safe trip back!

  4. I had no idea about the significance of this day. I could really have used this information for my practice.

    I don’t usually sneak over to other people’s blogs and comment, but one of the men in blue told me you had some pretty good bloggers on the force, so here I am. Blog on. And stay safe.

  5. A therapist maybe? He wants to have patients pillowfight? I’ll let you know about May 26th, do what I can, but I am moving to Seattle the next day at the latest!

  6. Oh, I’ve only read it from emails direct to me from the arrested and this other blog:
    But nevertheless, this is crazy and I’d like to help!

    • Yeah, I read that one too. I was gonna link to it in another post but ended up not getting to it. The two girls pictured were in the lockup with myself and another guy. They said they were high schoolers from Kenosha. Their friends gave me a ride back to my car, which was kind of them.
      So have some of the others contacted you? Good. I don’t really know what you can do about the court thing, I suspect that it will simply depend on the demeanor of the judge- either they’ll blow it off, or they’ll try to make an example of us. Either way, I’m thinking their mind will be made up before we get there, and that nothing we say will really make any difference.
      Thanks for the offer, though. Hope you have a safe move!

  7. Holy Moly, Monsieur. What an adventure. Want more details when you have time.

    Read “The Pro” yesterday, from the stack of your graphic novels by my bed. Had a few good giggles, and it was very good to see a woman artist. Thanks again for the loan!

    • Yeah, the Connor/Palmiotti team is already a legend in the industry. And they’re (still, as far as I know) happily married ^_^

  8. Hey Man,
    I was at the pillow fight taking photos. I’ve got some pictures of a man cleaning up then later getting arrested. I’m guessing this is you? Let me know if it is and I can get the images to you if you like
    Sorry to hear you got put in the slammer for this. It’s absurd!

    • Well, Molly, thanks for stopping by. I can’t really evaluate your pictures without a link or something, and I can’t contact you about it since you didn’t leave a link in your name either. If it was a tall guy in a long blue shirt, then it was probably me. I’d be happy to have those pics if you don’t mind. Thanks!

      • Dave,
        Yeah I didn’t include any personal info because I wanted to confirm it was you. A few of the pictures are edited on my website at

        I tried to upload a larger series of unedited jpgs but I’m connecting to the internet by tethering to my phone right now so my connection keeps timing out. I’ll try to upload them from a work computer tomorrow. Or you can e-mail me at and I’ll find a way to get the images to you.

    • Hey, Molly… You said you had pics of me helping clean up? I might actually need those, so could you send me the link or whatever again? I seem to have gotten myself in a spot of worse trouble due to… well, being an idiot. I couldn’t find an email link on your site, so I am hoping you will get an email notification of this comment. Thanks!

  9. You know, I got thinking about this while trying to fall asleep last night. Our Constitutional rights were violated when the cops broke up our pillow fight. There is a very strong precedence of protecting art, including performance art under the First Amendment.
    Dave when you go to court I think you need to think about what the laws are and how your rights are protected. Having the document of being asked to clean up is great because that shows that it’s part of the performance and you were arrested for your part in it. Therefore you were arrested in violation of your right to free speech.
    The intent of the performance was not completed because the cops interfered. This may seem like a small thing being that it’s a “pillow fight” but violation of our Bill of Rights is no little thing.

    • I suppose you might be right about that. I don’t know how that stuff works. It did occur to me the other day that I, at least, was never mirandized before being cuffed. Maybe I’ve just seen too many cop shows on TV, but I thought they were required to do that when arresting people? I don’t know, though, maybe it’s only for serious crimes? Maybe I’ll bring that up in court too.

      • Whoa! Were you questioned? They aren’t allowed to arrest and question you for a statement until after the Miranda Rights have been read. I’ll ask Jerry Boyle as well. Were the others given their Miranda rights? It’ll be dismissed if they botched the arrest procedure, but still… !

      • They didn’t really question us. Just held us for a couple hours and cited us. So I don’t know if that matters- maybe they only have to mirandize you if they’re gonna question you? That’d make sense, I think.

      • As I understand it they only have to read your rights if they are going to question you. Also it does not have to be done in the formal TV/Movie campy way.

        This and whether or not your rights are protected under the First Amendment is why it’s a good idea to at least contact a lawyer.
        Do you have legal insurance through your employer? Do you have any friends who are or know a lawyer? Maybe we can find a lawyer with a Bill of Rights fetish who needs to complete some pro-bono work?

        I’m no lawyer but I have read a great deal about my rights as a photographer and artist. This is the way I see how our rights were violated: We stage a performance art demonstration which was interrupted by the police and their use of authority.
        Is it performance art? Yes, it was conducted in front of the art institute for goodness sake! There were at least as many photographers then pillow fighters all creating their individual expressions of the event. Whether or not you or any other participant realized it you were part of performance, even the members of the gathered crowd were part of the performance. I reference Jonathan Glass’s use of long silences to intentionally make the sounds of the audience a part of the performance as a similar expression. I have my own ideas of what the pillow fight meant to me as an artist. And whether or not the police understood the meaning of the performance it was still our right to express ourselves.
        The website says that we should fight until we are done “it could last for two hours or more” and then next talks about cleaning up. So that is the official plan of the performance. You were merely carrying out the full performance.

      • Whoops, I shouldn’t blog when I’m tired.
        I meant to reference Philip Glass’s music rather then Johnathan Glass. Also sorry for the flagrant use of typos.

      • Great pics, Molly. Yeah, that’s me getting busted there. Don’t I look a mess. I’m not too worried about getting a lawyer, I think it will be a pretty much cut and dried thing. I doubt we’ll even be there for more than twenty minutes (although we will probably spend longer than that waiting). I think they’ll shuffle us in, the judge will either tell us to behave from now on, an/or give us a token fine, and then we’ll be on our way. It’ll probably cost me as much to take the day off work as the fine itself.
        Thanks for the support, though. Maybe next year you can help us cover the bases in the artistic expression department, eh?

      • Dave,

        Thanks for the compliment. Apparently some knucklehead at work decided it would be funny to lock all the public computers so I wasn’t able to upload those additional pics of you cleaning up feathers, since then I have been off work and very busy.
        Do you care about seeing them? If yes I’ll gladly get them up but if no I won’t bother.


      • Hm, pics of me being stupid on the intarwebs? Let me think about it… sure, why not? ^_^

      • Hey, I was just reading your conversation about the arrests. I’m the short-haired girl that was also cited. I’m not completely sure how the system works, but Kate and I asked a few different cops while we were still at the Art Institute why we were being arrested and none of them had an answer. We didn’t actually find out until we got the tickets, hours later.

        (And Dave, thanks again for keeping us as calm as could be through the whole ordeal. :])

      • Hey, Maddie. I guess you guys got home ok? That’s good. Thanks to you and your friends for giving me a ride back to my car. I guess we’ll all meet again on the 26th. I hope your parents didn’t give you guys too much grief over it. Hopefully they have a sense of humor about the whole thing.

      • so maddie, what did it finally say on the ticket? why did you get arrested??
        ps kate probably showed you the pictures i have of you guys. you should check on flickr, there are a lot of shots of the both of you.

      • When we got home, my sister (Trish) and I decided to just tell my mom about the tickets and leave out the “arrest” detail which worked…until she saw pictures of us online the following day. But it turns out that she’s been really cool about the whole thing and not mad at all. Katie’s parents still don’t know-Trish is going to stand in for she and I at the hearing on the 26th if school ends up being crazy (I think exams for seniors are that week).

        It turns out that our tickets were a disorderly conduct for “casting refuse” and the explanation said that when asked to disperse, we refused (which was completely untrue). On the back, it says that there’s a maximum $50 fine so really, they could have just written our tickets at the site and be done with it instead of making a show of arresting us. Parking tickets are more expensive than ours. What did yours say, Dave?

        Thanks for the pictures. They’re priceless proof that you CAN get arrested for pillow fighting. :]

      • Maddie,
        I’m glad to hear your parents are understanding. I think the cops were out of line here, just because you get arrested doesn’t mean you did something bad.

      • Quoted from my ticket: “Count 1: He was observed engaged in a pillow fight. When asked to disburse [sic] refused. Count 2: Breaking the peace of passerbys [sic] who had to walk into traffic, and to refuse left behind.”

        Stilted English aside, these are pretty absurd charges to waste the time and resources (at least 8 officers, several carsm, and a paddywagon) on.

        I checked the back of the ticket, and it does list 35$/50$ as the maximum fine, but I’m pretty sure a judge can overrule that if they want to make an example of us. I doubt they will, though, and frankly it’s going to cost me more than that to take the day off work to go to court. Stupid.

        Glad your guys’ parents are being cool about it!

  10. hey dave, there are some comments directed to you in my article. you should check them out.

  11. fyi dave- i didn’t put that update in my article about the “arrest”. groundreport has editors that can change things. they took down that picture of the police officer too.

    • Really? That’s… wow. Like, isn’t that a pretty straightforward violation of journalistic integrity or something? I mean, could you (not you, them) kiss up to The Man any more blatantly? I’d be ticked if someone edited something with my name on it in a way that made it less accurate or informative. Hell, I’d be furious. I was annoyed and I didn’t even write it.

      Thanks for the heads-up, though. I had more or less forgotten about it, but were I in your place, I’d also want to make sure that wasn’t ascribed to me.

  12. […] Crap on a Stick, I am an Idiot. So, some of you may remember this post about getting arrested for pillowfighting from way […]

  13. Hey Dave, how’s it going? My sister said she didn’t see you last week. We ended up just paying $20 each and getting it erased from our records.

    • Hi, Maddie! So glad to hear that! Yeah, I was a bonehead and wrote the wrong date on my calendar. As a result I have been charged $740 in fines. But I’m REALLY glad to hear they went easy on you guys, I was afraid things had gone poorly. I am gonna try to appeal this, but I dunno if it will work.

      Thanks for checking in!

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