Undercover UCPD detective infiltrates protest

An on-duty UCPD detective marched with protesters at Saturday's trauma center demonstration and did not identify herself to organizers, according to a Maroon investigation.

Photo: Anonymous Submission
Undercover UCPD detective Janelle Marcellis poses as a protester in a march against the opening of the University's new Center for Care and Discovery on February 23.

Update as of March 5 at 6:23 a.m.: Two UCPD employees have been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation. Read more here.

Update as of March 1 at 5:48 p.m.: Provost Thomas Rosenbaum has released a statement in response to the incident.

“The behavior as described is antithetical to the University’s values and we will not tolerate it. The University will investigate this expeditiously and take immediate steps to ensure it is not repeated,” the statement read.

Photo: Anonymous Submission
Detective Marcellis marches with the protesters from 60th and Cottage Grove to President Zimmer's house, holding a sign reading, "$700,000,000. Seriously??"

A Maroon investigation has obtained photographic evidence that an on-duty UCPD detective dressed in plainclothes posed as a protester and marched in the trauma center protest on Saturday. She has been identified as Detective Janelle Marcellis.  According to Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) and Students for Health Equity (SHE) leaders, she did not inform the protesters that she was a detective.

Detective Marcellis texted a UCPD official while marching in the protest

Photo: Anonymous Submission
Throughout the protest, Marcellis texts Deputy Chief of Investigative Services, Milton Owens, updates about the protest and the organizers' demands.

Marcellis participated actively with other protesters in the demonstration. During the march, she held a sign that read, “$700,000,000. Seriously??”, referring to the cost of construction of the Center for Care and Discovery (CCD), which opened the same day.

Photo: Anonymous Submission
A photo of Marcellis's phone reveals her conversation with Deputy Owens. She types, "In crowd w sign. All is well. They are talking about wanting three things charges dropped trauma center and police to work [...]"

Upon arrival at President Zimmer’s house on East 59th Street and South University Avenue, protesters placed stickers over their mouths in protestation of what they saw as the University’s attempt to silence dissent on the trauma center issue. Marcellis placed a sticker over her mouth that read, “Trauma center now,” in red marker.

After several FLY and SHE members noticed Marcellis and grew suspicious of her involvement, one protester decided to take photographs of her during the demonstration. Alex Goldenberg, an organizer of FLY who was one of three arrested during the January 27 protest, said Marcellis appeared out of place during the demonstration.

“She just didn’t look comfortable with herself, and she didn’t look like she knew people,” Goldenberg said.

While the demonstrators were at Zimmer’s home, Marcellis asked other protesters questions that, according to Goldenberg, were “in a way that a person going to an event [such as this] wouldn’t ask.”

“I was speaking with somebody else afterward about how she awkwardly asked them what we were doing at the president’s house,” he said. “She [then] asked if that was all we were doing.”

As shown in the photographs, Marcellis texted Deputy Chief of Investigative Services Milton Owens, relaying the proceedings of the event.

“In crowd w[ith] sign. All is well,” she wrote in a text message addressed to “Deputy Chief Owens (work).”

Patrick Dexter, third-year SHE member and a speaker during the press conference in front of the CCD, made three demands directed at the University: that charges for those arrested during the January 27 protest be dropped, that an adult level-one trauma center be re-established at the UCMC, and that the University work with the community to reduce violence in the neighborhood.

In a second message to Owens, Marcellis listed these demands.

“They are talking about wanting three things charges dropped trauma center and police to work,” reads the text, which she appears to be in the process of typing in one of the photos.

Olivia Woollam, fourth-year SHE member, and Duff Morton, a member of Southsiders Together Organizing for Power (STOP), acted as police liaisons during the protest on Saturday. Woollam said that both she and Morton made their roles clear throughout the demonstration, introducing themselves to officers at both the corner of East 58th Street and South Maryland Avenue by the CCD and at Zimmer’s house.

Woollam and Morton both attest that Marcellis never revealed herself as UCPD personnel.

When interviewed by the Maroon, Marcellis said she was “present and working” for UCPD during the protest, but declined to comment on the specific nature of her work.

Robert Mason, a crime analyst at the Investigative Services Bureau and Public Information Officer for UCPD, declined to comment on Marcellis’s participation in the demonstration. In a May 2012 article, the Maroon reported that, according to Mason, UCPD was considering hiring detectives to help with investigations. Marcellis and Robert Rodriguez were hired as detectives in September, according to a UCPD Operations Bulletin.

After repeated phone messages and e-mails, Deputy Chief Owens could not be reached for comment by the time of publication. Associate Vice President and UCPD Chief of Police Marlon Lynch redirected the Maroon to University Spokesperson Jeremy Manier without giving a direct comment.

SHE, FLY, met with UCPD and campus administrators before the protest

The day before the protest, Dexter, third-year SHE member Michael McCown, and graduate student Molly Cunningham met with UCPD Chief Marlon Lynch, Executive Director of the Office of University Affairs at UCMC Leif Elsmo, and Assistant Vice President of Campus and Student Life Eleanor Daugherty in order to communicate the demonstrators’ intentions.

“They had already had a similar meeting earlier with some organ from FLY, so…there wasn’t a lot of negotiating going on,” Cunningham said. “Sort of initially we thought a lot more was going to happen in that meeting.”

Cunningham added that it was a meeting for administrators to “double-check” with them. By the end of the meeting, University officials knew the path of the march that the demonstrators intended to walk, and the protesters agreed that a bullhorn would not be used in close proximity to the CCD.

According to Dexter, the demonstrators had no intention of testing the law at the protest after an incident at a January 27 demonstration when three protesters were arrested. This was the second of two meetings that were intended to ensure that the demonstration followed the temporary ordinances put in place for the CCD’s move-in day. The protesters abided by the restrictions.

Two UCPD vehicles remained on the street outside Zimmer’s house during the protest while a UCPD officer stood on his front porch.

UCPD employs detectives as part of the Investigative Services Bureau

Marcellis serves as a detective in the UCPD’s Investigative Services Bureau. According to the UCPD’s Web site, “the Investigative Services Bureau is responsible for identifying emerging crime patterns, proactively combating crime and for follow up investigations of crimes which occur on the University of Chicago property.”

“It’s very weird considering the interactions [between SHE and UCPD] leading up to the march…that that seemed necessary,” Woollam said, referring to Marcellis’s presence at the protest without identifying herself as a detective.

According to former UCPD Chief Rudy Nimocks, UCPD officers were never directed to work undercover at peaceful protests during his time as chief from 1989 to 2009. However, in 1998, the UCPD began installing plainclothes officers in “unmarked, regular vehicles” in order to “focus on hot-spots of theft and burglary in the area,” according to a March 1998 Hyde Park Herald article. The UCPD did not employ detectives during Nimocks’ tenure.

—Additional reporting by Celia Bever, Marina Fang, and Jennifer Standish

  • Gene G

    For a change, really really excellent reporting by the MAROON. Congrats on reporting what I find to be a disturbing new practice on the part of the administration and UCPD. Fight the power!

  • sbc

    “in protestation”


    Methinks the word you’re looking for here is “in protest”

  • Fourth year student

    This is a new low for UofC admin.

  • Anonymous
  • Alumnus

    This is how democracy dies. I disagree wholeheartedly with the protesters, and I have generally not disapproved of the UCPD’s actions, but this is going too far.

    • Also Anonymous


  • David Gaballa

    Wealthy benefactors should donate to erect a standalone panel to oversees the operations of the UCPD. This department has become an absolute embarrassment for the university community and alumni body.

  • Economics student

    Marcellis placed a sticker over her mouth that read, “Trauma center now,” in red marker.

    >> So the UCPD also supports a Trauma Center now?

  • Maddie W

    really impressed !!! go students !

  • Temporarily ignorant

    Enlighten my ignorance: What are the problems that people are having with this move by the UCPD? I’m usually on the side of the protesters, but I’m not bothered by this undercover detective.

    My first thought was that having someone from the UCPD present makes sure that they’re seeing the whole story and not having to make reaction decisions when called into the middle of potentially dangerous/illegal activity. If the protesters are within the law, what could the undercover detective do?

    I think UCPD and the CPD have a terrible history, moments of abusiveness, and inappropriate reactions at times, but I don’t think everything they do is evil. When they helped catch the people who mugged my friend? When they politely break up a party keeping up the family of four downstairs? Our community has every right to protest and call them out on over-aggressiveness, racism, and corruption, but this story doesn’t seem like any of those to me.

  • Rob Smith

    Are you guys kidding me. Would it honestly surprise anyone here to learn that when Barack Obama is at an event there plain-clothed secret service agents in the crowd? This is just a smart strategy. Often in protest, a lone individual or small group may decide to blend into the crowd for the purpose of causing violence. Having a cops secretly in the crowd would allow them to quickly apprehend those individuals before they could blend back into the crowd. I am sure SHE and FLY wouldn’t want to be blamed for the poor judgement of a protester. Finally, this is poor judgement on the part of the paper to publish the picture of the cop and make it seem like it was malicious. The cop was just there to do her job and keep things orderly. This is almost like getting on an airplane and then you figure out who the air marshal is and take a picture of them with your cellphone and post it online. Good job Maroon.

    • anon

      The problem with that, as seen numerous times with occupy, is that sometimes the cops ARE that one lone person trying to start violence in order to make everyone else look bad

      • JohnDoe

        Have any proof to backup that assertion?

  • Mike

    I think the administration should create a committee of admin, faculty, and student representatives to investigate the data gathering practices of the ISB and publicize their findings. What is the ISB collecting, how do they collect it, with whom do they share, and do investigative targets have a right to review their files? We don’t need a red squad at the U of C. This is very wrong.

    • Brian O’Connell

      Bad analogy Rob. When I fly on an airplane I am contracting with a private company to provide a service. Part of that service is to make sure my flight is secure. I understand that air marshals are part of that security and I know why they are on a flight. It would be extremely unethical, and possibly illegal, for me to reveal the identity of an air marshal. If I am part of a peaceful protest, exercising my CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, I see no reason why I should have some undercover cop meddling in what I’m doing. I also see no reason whatsoever, ethical or legal, why I should not reveal their identity. As a child of the 60s I could go into a whole history of police abuse of peaceful organizations involved in protest but in the interest of brevity I would suggest that you just check out what went on at UC Davis recently and ask yourself if that is the sort of incident you would like UC to be associated with.

  • Gene G

    Mike is right. What data is the UCPD collecting as part of this undercover infiltration? The UCPD and the administration crossed a line today, a line that impedes free speech. Undercover officers actually participating in public protest have the power to alter the dialog and debate. Absent a serious threat to public safety this cannot be tolerated, especially on a college campus. Did public safety concerns really necessitate this approach? Absolutely not. That the U off C and UCPD would resort to this is truly extraordinary. Some serious discussion needs to take place between UCPD, the administration, and the student community regarding the guidelines for this type of police (mis)conduct. Nothing warranted this extreme approach today.

    • Rob Smith

      Remember what started all this. The same peaceful protesters had infiltrated a tour group to gain access to the new hospital. Once they gained entry they planned to conduct an illegal action, a sit-in. Their crime was trespassing on private property. So this time around the UCPD took preemptive action, all they did was place someone with the protesters incase thing got out of hand. we’ve all seen the news when anonymous people within a protest start to smash things up. This is not a case of entrapment, it’s not like the cop yelled out, “lets go to Zimmer’s house and smash his windows”. What gets under the skin of the protesters is that the university took legal,smart, and decisive action. I don’t know what an investigation will do.

  • Maroon ’15

    People are missing the point as to why this is bad. I’d encourage everyone to reread their Discipline and Punish like a good U of C student.

  • Anonymous

    This is all very hilarious and sort of disturbing, but I found the close-up pictures of her phone to be a bit invasive.

    • Anonymous 2

      I think those photos were necessary to show that she was an undercover cop.

      • WH

        That’s like saying it’s okay to record library patrons viewing their e-mails because they look menacing, or forcing people who “look like drug dealers” to give up their cell phones to police. The kids got lucky, but what if you had someone standing behind you snapping a photo of your text messages? How would you feel about that? The ends do not justify the means.

    • rdel

      Almost as invasive as a police officer masquerading as a comrade… Luckily there wasn’t any foul entrapment or sabotage tactics.

      • Katie

        If she wants to look at her phone screen in a public place in a crowd, then it’s her risk to take as to whether or not it’s photographed.

  • Concerned Campus

    Googling this recently-hired detective reveals not just a messy personal life but her long history of involvement with “Special Operations”. Why did the UCPD find it necessary to hire a person with a specific background in undercover operations? This is not what the U of C needs. VERY disturbing. Way to go free press!

    • Brian

      Well, obviously only someone with special training can gather this sort of high value intelligence on this group’s real motives. I mean, come on, how else are you going to find out what they want? It’s not like they’re walking around with their demands written on signs or shouting about what they’d like to see happen. Only by going undercover would we have learned that “they are talking about wanting three things[:] charges dropped[, a] trauma center[,] and police to work…” and so on.

  • Noah Moskowitz

    It’s worth pointing out that CPD officers infiltrated protest actions that STOP conducted last year and that students were a part of. They conducted surveillance and tried to get them to say incriminating things and all that. The use of similar tactics by the UCPD against students is extremely troubling and goes directly against what the UCPD is here for.

  • John Doe

    Sounds like much ado about nothing. Police masquerading in a protest crowd: color me shocked. But I’m sure most of you will continue to make mountains out of mole hills.

    The whole protesting is misguided anyway. Stop trying to force a private institution to solely foot the bill for a trauma center. If they want one so badly, lobby the city or state to open one in one of the state or city-run hospitals.

    And if I remember correctly, there is plenty of literature available that shows there is little correlation between patient survival and the abundance of trauma centers. It is more about paramedics getting to the victim first.

  • ANNA

    John Doe & Rob Smith-

    No one involved seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill… This article definitely does not make it seem that anyone except for Rosenbaum is particularly angry about this incident. They seem to find it confusing and bizarre and maybe even funny. If a protester had infiltrated the ranks of the UCPD in a UCPD police uniform, people would definitely find it a very big deal.

    In my personal opinion, this incident is hilarious- and from the looks of it, members of the UCPD support a trauma center!

    The attitude that private institutions cannot be held accountable for the communities they impact is a misplaced one. Besides, the hospital is a non-profit, meaning that they receive huge tax breaks in return for liberally serving the public good. Given their hundreds of millions in profits last year alone and huge revenue streams, it seems they can afford to do more for the local community- not just the “community” they have decided it is worth serving.

    The University/ the hospital is more powerful in determining health policy outcomes for people on the South Side then any state or local legislators. Instead of asking why the protesters don’t change their targets, why not ask why the University refuses to employ its high ranking connections (Obama, etc) to seek the funding for a trauma center. The funding COULD be there, but their is currently so little internal desire for one within the hospital, it will never come to fruition.

    I am not affiliated with this campaign, and think like any movement it has it problems, but the attitude of deferring to the supposed good will of all forms of authority (police, hospital admins, school admins) in creating fair policies definitely seems more problematic than whatever the campaign is doing that might offend our sensibilities.

    • John Doe

      Your comparison is not the same thing at all. If the UCPD officer was directly influencing the protest, sure, you have some complaints. But if she was just standing around and reporting back, I don’t see the problem.

      As for the tired-old, make lots of money so they should feel free to give it away: Another article in this very paper states: “As a result, UCMC took on losses of up to $1.5 million per year for the two years it was in operation. Adjusting for inflation, that would be $3 million per year today.” It was losing money by operating a trauma center because they weren’t being reimbursed enough. Just because they get huge tax breaks and can make a fair bit of money doesn’t mean that they should be devoting limited resources to an unneeded trauma center. There are other plenty of other good things the University can spend its money on.

      But now, you’re also suggesting that they lobby through their special connections (the activity that everyone loves to hate on except when it benefits themselves) to get money? I don’t see how that would solve the problem. Obama does not control the U.S. purse strings and isn’t going to expend the political capital to get Medicare and Medicaid to change there reimbursement formula. And if you haven’t noticed, the government is being forced into austerity mode. Even if they could use their connections, spending more taxpayer money is becoming a political third-rail.

      The University continues to do a lot for the community, regardless of whether it operates a superfluous trauma center or not. Maybe the University should just cut to the chase and start cutting the community some checks to help pay for their rent. After all, the direct impact of having an economic center on the south side is driving up the cost of rent in the area…

    • Rob Smith

      Good point. I don’t understand why these protesters don’t turn their attention about 2miles northwest and of the university and demand that Provident Hospital, which is part of the cook county health system, provide them with a trauma center. It only make sense to demand public services out of public institutions.

      • Katie


        Why do all these people want the university to provide a trauma center? There are other hospitals nearby, and why on earth would anyone want people involved with gang activity near our campus? Plus they don’t **want** to. We can’t force a private entity to do anything they don’t want to do.

        • chi anon


          I find your comment about “why on earth would anyone want people involved with gang activity near our campus” to be racist and reeking of privilege. And your idea that we can’t force a private entity to do anything they don’t want to do is naive and stupid. Private entities are forced to do things they don’t want to all the time, such as pay taxes and hire women and people of color. Of course in this case with the trauma center, no one can force UCMC to do anything. However, the protesters are trying to pressure them by bringing public attention to the fact that a) there is no adult level 1 trauma center on the south side, meaning not even the students of U of C can access the UCMC’s care if they require trauma care; b) the UCMC receives millions in tax breaks but spends only a fraction of that on charity care; c) systemic racism continues to disinvest in communities of color when it comes to things like health care, housing, jobs, education, etc. that is a big factor in the continued violence in these communities; d) the attitude of the UCPD is to address these concerns with violence and COINTELPRO type tactics such as spying on the university’s own students.

          That’s what protesters do: bring about public pressure to get changes. How do you think traditionally marginalized groups have won any rights at all? By sitting around and waiting for those in power to do the right thing? I don’t think so.

          The U of C makes billions of dollars based on its reputation. It has a moral obligation to contribute to the community in which the campus resides, and anyone who is afraid of being near “people involved with gang activity” has no business being at the UofC.

  • WH

    Usually, people who want to divulge the private conversations of suspicious-looking individuals need a warrant to do so. Apparently, the Maroon finds itself above all the petty ethical, moral, and legal concerns regarding an individual’s privacy.

    Granted, using your own private police force to investigate your own students reflects extremely poorly on Zimmer and the UCPD, but the Maroon’s “investigative journalism” should have gone through (at least) the legal avenues to be taken seriously. As such, this article reflects as poorly on the Maroon and its editorial staff as it does on Zimmer and the UCPD.

    • Podgenut

      lol plz

      Someone gave the Maroon photos that showed the officer’s text messages. The reporters looked at the photos, and then included those messages in their story. Nothing illegal about that. It was potentially illegal for the source—not a Maroon staffer, so far as we know—to photograph the messages in the first place, but in the Land of the Free, that has no bearing on the legality of what the Maroon did.

      To put a finer point on it: If the Maroon needed a warrant to print these messages, then the NYTimes, Der Spiegel, and the Guardian needed a warrant to print the WikiLeaks cables. The NYTimes needed a warrant to print the Pentagon Papers. Deadspin needed a warrant to print Brett Favre’s dick pic.*

      Fortunately, you’re wrong and we live in a country where reporters aren’t implicated in crimes committed by their sources. And thank god—if you were making the rules, most of America’s best reporters would have been locked behind bars long ago.

      *Actually, I’m not sure how Deadspin got a hold of that dick pic, so this may be a bad analogy. How about this: If the Maroon needed a warrant to print these messages, then Gawker needed a warrant to print those Dubya paintings from the Bush family’s hacked email accounts.

  • Concerned

    I am surprised that a former law enforcement officer with such a history (criminal and suspicious behavior) would be hired as a law enforcement officer here.

  • David

    I don’t see this as a big deal unless she was acting as an agent provocateur. It doesn’t sound like she was.

    • Also Anonymous

      this comment right here. i’ve been run over by someone in u of c’s district already; do i really want a cop w/ a DUI on her record roaming about the streets? we already see how the police (ucpd & cpd alike) love to flout traffic laws around here. marcellis gotta go.

  • Matt Andersson, MBA ’96

    Seems Greg Lukianoff (FIRE) has another case. As for UCPD infiltration, wait until it obtains small surveillance drones in coordination with Chicago. Literally, small remote controlled drones with cameras, infrared sensing and audio capture will eventually be loitering over Hyde Park:

    Moreover, US administrative “health care” plans include the insertion of bio-metric devices; UC may at some point require students to wear or be subject to implant, an ID traceable by satellite or microwave sensing. 1984 indeed.

    As Thoreau said, “The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law free.”

    Protests? The 1960s may come to look benign. And that scares institutions.

    Matt Andersson, MBA ’96

  • John

    It is disturbing and it is something that needs addressed. There is a difference between police working in plainclothes around demonstrations and police working undercover infiltrating events AS protesters. It’s important to maintain a real line between the two because once you have police becoming protesters you inevitably end up with the temptation to try and influence events through that participation. Such involvement is anti-democratic and makes it really difficult for citizens to organize with one another to collectively address problems. It also seriously degrades trust in the government and makes other protesters paranoid, both of which negatively influences the direction of campaigns.

    You see all of this time and time again once the state begins getting involved. First they are at protests, then attending meetings, then steering meetings, then working to shape the outcome of campaigns. Even being a “protester” during a protest there is a human incentive to try to influence what happens. When you look around the country you see cases officers have just gotten bored, sometimes they have pushed for things to escalate because it makes them more valuable and can advance their careers, often they’ve engaged in clashes with the police or done property damage in order to try to identify other militant protesters. It’s just bad policy and a slippery slope.

  • John

    And to the people saying “but she was only doing ___” How do you know that’s all that was happening? The point here is we’re not having this discussion because there is a clear policy with checks and balances. We’re debating because an investigation happened to discover this one case with irrefutable proof. Are there other cases at this protest or others? Has this happened before? Are there guidelines covering how the police are allowed to participate and are they public? Who decides these things and who reviews their decisions? What checks are in place to ensure that police are not influencing campaigns?

    It’s not about whether you trust the police, it’s about citizens responsibility to make sure you don’t NEED to trust the police to be reasonably sure harm will not come about due to existing policies. The only way to do that is to draw a sharp line that says policing can not morph into participating.

  • Jake

    Looks like we forgot about kent state pretty quick

  • cat mosele

    UCPD has changed since the days of clean honest police work and building alliances with the student body…..the current UCPD Administration should be exposed….don’t just look at the senseless infiltration of an obviously misguided detective, dig a little deeper plenty of what is going on in the department is illegal and unethical.

    • Thinker

      Jake, you have it backwards. This type of police work avoids the type of over reaction that lead to the deaths on the Kent State campus in the 1970’s. Her texts indicated that all is calm, even from a vantage point inside the protest. This keeps law enforcement calm. As stated elsewhere in this thread, it’s done to protect the president, and elsewhere. I don’t see it as a problem.

      As to some weird concern about ‘infiltration’, what are the protesters worried about? Isn’t the idea to express their opinions? Get the word out? Let everyone know what is important? If so, why is it such a problem to tell this detective what’s going on? If they are truly law abiding, just, honorable and harmless — why not invite the police in? Maybe the police would agree with the message?

      [P.S. I haven’t googled intel on the detective, and if she shouldn’t have been hired, that is a completely different issue that I might agree with.

      • John

        “Thinker” have you read the other comments? Let me ask you this. What did she do by pretending to be a protester that she could not have done by monitoring the protest from a distance and not pretending to me one of them?

        • Brian

          Thinker: “As to some weird concern about ‘infiltration’, what are the protesters worried about? Isn’t the idea to express their opinions? Get the word out? Let everyone know what is important? If so, why is it such a problem to tell this detective what’s going on?”

          Why is it such a problem for the police to ask? The protestors were, as you shrewdly point out, openly voicing and advertising their concerns and desires. This officer gathered no information that wouldn’t have been obvious and apparent to a uniformed officer.

          Having an undercover officer falsely posing as one of the protestors did accomplished something, though: It erode the remaining trust between the police and the policed.

          Thinker: “If they are truly law abiding, just, honorable and harmless — why not invite the police in? ”

          If you think that being just, honorable and harmless is good reason to invite surveillance, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t call the police right now and invite them to follow you undercover whenever you’re in public. In fact, why bother having uniformed officers at all, Thinker? Imagine how safe we would be if police officers never had to identify themselves.

        • Thinker

          What could she do under cover? How about discover something that would avoid a Kent State type tragedy maybe? That was the topic of the original post that you and Brian are now defending.

          And, Brian (below) the next time that I organize a protest on a public street involving dozens of people, sure, I’d invite the police in. Follow me around? That’s fine, but a big waste of resources since I am a law abiding citizen and not involved in any event (i.e. a protest) that could lead to a dangerous situation. Listen, I’m having some fun with you all of you who I’m sure are very concerned about this, and I don’t want a police state, either. But monitoring a mob is not a police state.

          • Brian

            Since you’ve acknowledged that you’re merely “having some fun” with this discussion I don’t expect a serious response, but for the record it should be made clear that the organizers of the protest did, in fact, meet with police before the protest, discussed their plans with the police, and received approval for the route of their march from the police. This was not a spontaneous mob. This was a planned, prepared, well-organized event.

            Overblown rhetoric about Kent State and police states isn’t going to change the fact that sending an undercover officer to masquerade (badly) as a fellow protestor only served to erode the remaining trust between the police and the policed.

  • FED

    The FBI does this all the time. They joined campus protests in the 60s–and they do the same thing today.

  • Matt Andersson, MBA ’96

    The student and general population doesn’t generally understand or appreciate the degree to which the State (ie government)and universities are intertwined. This is marekedly so at UC. Moreover, certain ethno-religious priorities and agendas are particularly protected, nurtured and incubated. UC is led and governed by (though by no means controlled–that is by students ultimately) a radical ethnic sect that is fungible with its current radicalised state actors.

  • OK

    UCPD are nicer than CPD.

  • Anonymous

    Great hire UCPD:

    Janelle Marcellis, a 10-year officer, resigned [from the Glendale Heights police] in June 2010 while facing an unrelated driving under the influence charge, to which she pleaded guilty last October, according to court records.

  • greg

    Really? All this over a plain clothes police officer standing in a crowd on a public street using her cell phone to tell her boss that the protest is peaceful and following the rules? You just made it ten times harder for the detective to do her job in the future. I can’t wait until you kids get out into the real world. You have a rude awakening. Oh wait, you will probably just stay in school another 4 to 6 years and get your Masters, then your PhD, so you can be a liberal professor in a university and convey all your vast knowledge onto the youth of America. You know what they say, those that can’t do…teach.

    • Paul

      Is “Greg” a real person or is there an anti-intellectual spam bot programmed to spew these clichés?

      • Chris

        Don’t flatter yourself. You don’t strike me as an ‘intellectual.’

        • Ray

          Dude, he used an accent mark on “cliches”. That’s pretty intellectual.

  • Art

    Obviously, the official whom the detective text was incompetent at that type of work, for placing the detective who was ill prepared and not adept at that type of undercover work in that position.


    UCPD has put two employees on administrative leave following this incident, according to the Chicago Tribune:,0,5938282.story

  • ApplePie’sBastard

    I find this perplexing. Trying to coerce a private entity to spend (certainly not investing) on a trauma center its not obligated to have. There are many Chicagoland hospitals, especially ones that are publicly funded. Why not divert efforts elsewhere?

    I just don’t get this and divestment in climate change. When it comes to privately invested money, things just are not as simple as conceding to the discretionary actions of a few individuals who are impeded and narrowed by being excessively sentimental and motherly

  • Gersh Mayer

    If the officer wasn’t acting as a provocateur, there’s really not a problem, although she could have done the surveillance in uniform and obtained the same result. It does make the University look pretty foolish to be playing cloak and dagger this way.
    I remember the CPD trying something similar during a couple of CADRE (Chicago Area Draft Resistors) meetings during the Viet Nam war. They used a couple of cadets who didn’t even know how to lie. We embarassed them at a meeting and they never showed up again.

    After reading the Google info on Marcellis, you have to wonder what the hiring standards are for the UCPD.

    By the way, part of the reason for anger over the trauma center is that for years there was one at UC. “Those people” could be you lying in the back of an ambulance on its way to Northwestern Hospital after being injured in a car accident on the Midway. The UC Hospitals get tax breaks with the understanding that a certain amount of “charity” care will be provided, like a trauma center maybe? It also has a lot more resources than Provident Hospital. Since everybody is opposed to tax money being wasted on health care, how are you going fund a real trauma center at Provident?

    What kind of racist B.S. is this talking about not wanting people “involved with gang activity near our campus?” Some of these “people” are somebody’s grandma or uncle hit by stray bullets.
    Trauma centers treat victims; the cops deal with “people involved in gang activity’.
    Take that NIMBY stuff back to the gated compound you came from!

    • John Doe

      The UCMC did not ‘have a trauma center’ for years. It closed the level 1 adult trauma center in 1988, after only 2 years of operation.

      Running a trauma center is expensive and with limited resources and the goals of the university (it doesn’t exist solely as a charity), the closed it.

      The University still provides a large amount of charity work, particularly in the clinical setting. There is more to healthcare than treating the trauma victims.

      If you could show me some peer reviewed studies showing that location of a trauma center relative to the victim is the most important part, you may have an argument in your 3rd paragraph, otherwise, you’re just tugging at heartstrings and appealing to emotion.

    • spanky

      The U of C received $15,981,214 in NIH grants in 2013. Although it is a “private” university it has a public responsibility, particularly to its local community.

      • JohnDoe

        How many of those NIH grants went to research labs versus functions that the hospital is actually performing? NIH funding covers a broad array, from basic research to clinical research. The public outcome of those grants is also the knowledge gained from new research.

        And that still doesn’t answer the question – why is trauma center needed? Will survivability dramatically increase because the ambulance ride becomes 5 minutes shorter? If you want to increase survivability, decrease the EMS response time.

  • Anon

    Kudos to everyone at the Maroon for a great article – not as good as Greg Nance (, but still a solid piece.

    • Gersh Mayer

      Well golly, I just don’t happen to have a peer reviewed study regarding distance to a trauma center as a factor in recovery.

      I do however, have a certain amount of common sense. If I ever come across someone who needs immediate medical attention, I’m heading to the nearest medical facility; does that seem counter-intuitive to you??

      • JohnDoe

        Studies have shown that the key is for paramedics to get to a victim first. The hospital being a 5 minute or a 15 minute ride makes almost no difference in the survival of a victim.

        Your argument by ‘logic’ isn’t that sound.

  • Chris

    Nice police work, Officer Marcellis et al. I wish the CPD had used more undercover people like Officer Marcellis last May during the NATO Summit protests – in might have prevented me from getting banged around by a group of infiltrating thugs.

  • jared

    this is a fun story.

  • Concerned

    You should investigate the background of a few if the officers that UCPD has hired. Police brutality lawsuits filed against them, fired from other Depts for questionable behavior. It’s full of bad seeds!

    • ApplePie’sBastard

      I honestly believe that even though someone has committed injustice or any act that is accountable by the fallacy of human nature isn’t sufficient grounds to terminate or label an officer incompetent or corrupt. sure if their past actions were quite egregious, i can understand.

  • Jane

    FYI: it has been identified that detective Marcellis was given direct orders to infiltrate from the chiefs in the department including chief lynch. They held a role call meeting the day of to dictate the departments actions which included all the deputy chiefs and chiefs for a plan for the protest actions. They were all aware of detectives Marcellis actions and gave her strict orders to do what she did. Don’t let them fool you!

  • concerned citizen

    Facts for the Maroon investigation:
    University of Chicago Police Chief Marlon Lynch said the undercover officer was not part of the police department plan to provide security for the Feb. 23 demonstration (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES).
    The following information was obtained by a reliable source within the UCPD Command Staff.
    Early Saturday morning on Feb. 23 Roll-Call (police meeting) was held by UCPD command staff addressing approximately 30 UCPD Officers in preparation for the protest. In this meeting UCPD Chief Marlon Lynch was present, while it was discussed that Detective Marcellis would be participating in an undercover role in the protest.
    This is an example of a good officers being misled, Detective Marcellis was just following orders handed down by Deputy Chief Owens who in turn was following orders handed down by Chief Marlon Lynch.
    Chief Marlon Lynch you are a LIAR this is antithetical to the University’s values and should not be tolerated it.

  • Copper

    Why are you blasting the detective? If she was on duty, then I assume that her boss assigned her to the detail and she was following a lawful order. Your beef should be with the administration and not the copper.

  • Follow us at @StopChicago and check us out on Facebook. We have nothing to hide. We are a non-violent movement of youth from the south side trying to improve our community. We want life-saving care, just like you would want if your family were in an accident or suffered a traumatic injury on the south side. The U of C is the richest single hospital in Chicago and gets $60 million in public tax breaks every year. They just built a $700 million new research building. They pay their Chief Financial Officer $2 million a year. Yet instead of investing in saving lives, which can help stop the cycle of violence and give a chance for intervention to stop retaliation, they are using resources to infiltrate our protests, sending police to confront us with violence during peaceful sit-ins, spending millions on a PR campaign, and continuing to show that they don’t care about the communities around them. It is time for this to change! Get involved! Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Email us at [email protected].

  • Jar Jar Binks

    Is anyone else worried that a major overhaul of UCPD will really cut into the proposed Trauma Center budget?

  • bert smart

    How are they able to get away with this crap!!!!!
    1.President dating professor after split with wife – The Chicago Maroon
    Feb 2, 2010 … President Robert Zimmer is dating a faculty member after separating from his wife and moving out of the President’s house in September.
    Incident report
    Recent UCPD profiling complaints expose a larger problem in campus community.
    by Adam Janofsky – May 13, 2011 8:06 am CST

    Most students who were on campus last year have heard the story of Maurice Dawson, who was arrested at the Regenstein Library last February and set off a University-wide discourse on racial profiling on campus. Regardless of whether Dawson’s particular situation called for police action, one issue that was raised by the incident was that many African-American students felt like the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) treated them differently because of their skin color
    3.Zimmer marries Classics professor Shadi Bartsch – The Chicago …
    Oct 14, 2011 … President Robert Zimmer and Classics professor Shadi Bartsch (Ph.D. ’92) were married this weekend in a private ceremony
    4.Explanation needed from campus cops – The Chicago Maroon
    Jan 28, 2013 … The protest and arrests were a front-page story on the Tribune’s … protest in a not -yet operational hospital warranted any semblance of a violent .
    Undercover UCPD detective infiltrates protest
    An on-duty UCPD detective marched with protesters at Saturday’s trauma center demonstration and did not identify herself to organizers, according to a Maroon investigation.
    6.Janelle Marcellis, a 10-year officer, resigned [from the Glendale Heights police] in June 2010 while facing an unrelated driving under the influence charge, to which she pleaded guilty last October, according to court records.
    7.This is an example of a good officers being misled, Detective Marcellis was just following orders handed down by Deputy Chief Owens who in turn was following orders handed down by Chief Marlon Lynch.
    Chief Marlon Lynch you are a LIAR this is antithetical to the University’s values and should not be tolerated it.

  • Reader

    I think the Maroon should do a follow up article on this type of law enforcement action. I believe it is quite legitimate for UCPD to put an officer in the crowd to alert them to problems. This has been done in many situations and I think it can be a good idea. As long as they are not acting as an agent provocateur. The protest proceeds as desired, that is the important thing, this is just an extra guard to keep it peaceful.

  • TWC

    This may be the best soap opera that’s happened on campus in a while. I’m looking forward to seeing “Trauma Center” on TV.

  • Art

    I don’t blame the President of the University for being upset at this behavior exhibited by the UCPD. Yes I do know that Chief Marlon Lynch was at the meeting and knew the detective would be intermingling with the protesters in civilian dress after being debriefed by Deputy Chief Milton Owens. Every UCPD Officer assigned to the protest was or was suppose to be present at that meeting. Chief Lynch after the incident directed the officers not to talk to the news media and not to talk about the incident. There are some similarities reminiscent of the Chicago Police Department Red Squad that was disbanded for constitutional violations back in the 1960s and 1970s.

    I wonder how many law suits have occurred involving the UCPD during Chief Lynch’s tenure and how many more are forth coming. Using buffers such as Deputy Owens as well as others to take the heat while subsequently washing your hands of matters gets old.

  • Terry Bennet

    Get back to me when the undercover police officer does something more provocative than text messaging. Taking down names, perhaps.

  • Art

    The Detective through no fault of her own was not experienced enough to get names although that would have been another step. She was uncomfortable as she appeared to protesters. Another Detective was hired about the same time as Det. Marcellis. This one was a seasoned Chicago Police Detective. He sensed the volatile behavior of the UCPD brass and quit the UCPD after two months. Why not talk to him.

  • ID

    The Medical Center has hired a new Executive Director of Public Affairs to help guide it, and manage its image, during this controversy:

  • Retired-Cop

    #1 Det. Marcellis and her chief should be fired. If the cops want to be present at a march, either be in uniform or be in plain clothes as an observer, not a faux participant. She was in touch with her superior during the march…he knows the rules..well maybe not. #2 She not only violated public trust, she didn’t even know how to be undercover w/o detection. Duh! #3 She’s even wearing what appears to be a police style leather jacket, which would draw suspicion in a real undercover operation. The whole thing is unprofessional and lame.