Local activist charged after filming fight on Metra train

Sun-Times File

CHICAGO (STMW) - A local activist was charged with battery and reckless conduct early Tuesday after filming an interaction between Metra officials and two fighting passengers.

Metra police arrested Michael “Mike” Siviwe Elliott shortly after midnight on the Electric Line platform at 115th Street, according agency spokeswoman Meg Thomas-Reile. Elliott works with the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR).

A conductor unsuccessfully tried to defuse a fight between two women, Thomas-Reile said. Another passenger, a uniformed private security officer, tried to intervene when he was struck by one of the women. The fight continued from the train to the platform.

Elliott recorded a video of the fight and subsequent arrest with his phone. Thomas-Reile said he did not return to his seat when the conductor asked him to back away from the situation.

A statement from CAARPR claims that Elliott saw “officers getting rough with a young woman.” Elliott said he was falsely accused of assault when a Metra police officer tried to snatch his phone and he pulled his hand away.

An officer did ask Elliott for his phone, but the incident report from Metra police said Elliott “swatted” at the officer.

Elliott, the two women and the security guard were eventually taken to the Chicago Police Fifth District Station where the security guard signed a complaint against one woman who was charged with battery, Thomas-Reile said. The other woman was released without charges.

Elliot was released later that morning, according to the CAARPR.

The phone is being held as evidence until Elliott’s next court date in January because the video may contain information relevant to the charges against the woman, Thomas Reile said.

Elliott invoked images of recent protests against police brutality as well as police-involved shootings in the CAARPR statement saying, “My arrest is further evidence that the police here are not being held accountable on any level.”

He and the other woman who was arrested are scheduled to appear in court Jan. 13.