Charges dropped against popular poet arrested during Laquan McDonald march

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -  A popular spoken-word poet and community activist who once appeared at a TED Talk was charged with punching a Chicago Police officer in the face during protests tied to the deadly shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

But those charges were dropped Wednesday.

A California man also had been booked on felony charges and three others were given for misdemeanors following Tuesday night’s demonstrations.

The arrest of the poet, Malcolm X. London, had caused a collective uproar amongst his friends and fellow protesters, who started a #FreeMalcolmLondon hastag on Twitter and called on others to raise money to post bail.

Dozens of people Wednesday gathered at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse where 22-year-old London was expected to appear for a bond hearing.

London, whose talents drew the attention of shoulders with Chance the Rapper and actor Matt Damon, had been accused of punching an officer in the right eye in the 100 block of East Balbo.

After Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with McDonald’s murder and officials were about to release the grisly video of the teen’s, London Tweeted a video himself, telling his followers, “No matter what is on the video, your life matters.”

He also paraphrased Frederick Douglass and said, “The only thing worse than rebellion is a reason for it.”

London was identified after he was captured on a “Breaking News” site punching the officer, a police report said.

The officer suffered blue and purple bruising to the right eye, the report said.

Because London tried to pull away from the arresting officers, police said they used “escort holds and emergency handcuffing.”

London, of the 4900 block of West Huron Street, was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer.

London is a well-respected artist and alum of the Young Adult Council of the prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre.

He is a “gem,” said Hallie Gordon, the artistic and educational director of Steppenwolf for Young Adults. “He means a lot to us and our organization.”

London has appeared at the Louder Than A Bomb annual youth poetry festival and on TED Talks, a prestigious online forum where speakers are invited to expound on a variety of topics.

Also arrested during Tuesday’s protest was 38-year-old Dean M. Vanriper.

Vanriper, 38, was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

The California man was also charged with misdemeanors for having a Taser and a knife.

Three others were charged with one misdemeanor count each of resisting a police officer. Johnae A. Strong, 25, of the 1400 block of East 55th Street; Troy T. Alim, 24, of the 4600 block of South Drexel Boulevard; and May Page, 26, of the 5300 block of South Harper Avenue were all released on their own recognizance, police said.

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