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Chicago man sentenced to 300 days over taping of event

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A 31-year-old Chicago man was sentenced to 300 days in jail on Sept. 8 after he reportedly resisted arrest while…

A 31-year-old Chicago man was sentenced to 300 days in jail on Sept. 8 after he reportedly resisted arrest while videotaping a speaker last year at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago, in Skokie, Ill.

Cook County Circuit Judge Marguerite Quinn sentenced Gregory Koger after he was convicted in August of misdemeanor criminal trespass, resisting arrest and simple battery at the Cook County Court House in Skokie. Quinn sentenced Koger to 300 days in jail despite a petition signed by 1,000 supporters and 25 submitted statements calling for Koger to receive no jail time.

On Nov. 1, 2009, Koger filmed Sunsara Taylor, a New York-based writer for the Revolutionary Communist Party’s newspaper Revolution, at the Ethical Humanist Society. Taylor had been invited to speak at the society, but the invitation was later withdrawn. Taylor was supposed to give a lecture on “morality without gods.”

Taylor planned a short speech objecting to her cancelation and detailing where her off-site speech would be, which she asked Koger to film. The director of the Ethical Humanist Society, Matthew Cole, hired security for the event and did not want Koger filming, according to Scott Frankel, Koger’s attorney.

An off-duty police officer asked Koger to stop filming with a camera, which he did, according to Frankel. When Taylor began her speech, Koger resumed filming using his iPhone. At this point, police sprayed Koger with mace, wrestled him to the ground and handcuffed him, Frankel said. Koger was convicted of resisting arrest, though he and his attorney deny the charges.

“At one point there were four or five police officers,” Frankel said. “I don’t see how it would be possible [to resist arrest].”

Koger plans to appeal the charges and ask for his release on bond, Frankel said.

This isn’t the first time Koger has been to jail. According to his blog, he was homeless at 15, in a gang at 17 and ended up in jail in the late 1990s. He also claims to have reformed while in jail and is now a paralegal who lobbies for social justice issues, according to a press release from Ad Hoc Committee for Reason, a group lobbying for Koger’s release.

At the courthouse, 40 supporters showed up for the hearing and seven people testified to Koger’s character, according to the press release. Koger currently resides in the Cook County jail, Frankel said.

The Ethical Humanist Society describes itself as an organization that seeks "a rational, compassionate philosophy of life without regard to belief or nonbelief in a supreme being,” according to its website.