National Lawyers Guild Uncovers Terrorism Indictments in Chicago NATO Protest Case
Eleven charges come without any supporting evidence, arraignments to follow on July 2nd
Chicago, IL — After being denied access to the charges brought last week by the State’s Attorney’s Office against three NATO protesters accused of terrorism crimes, defense counsel obtained the indictment today from the Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court. In addition to the previous State charges of material support for terrorism, possession of an incendiary device, and conspiracy to commit terrorism, prosecutors also charged the three defendants — Brent Betterly, Jared Chase, and Brian Jacob Church — with additional counts of possession of an incendiary device, attempted arson, solicitation to commit arson, conspiracy to commit arson and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, totalling 11 charges each. All three defendants remain in jail on $1.5 million bond.
“The prosecutor controls the grand jury and is able to obtain a rubber-stamped indictment for any charges it desires,” said Chicago National Lawyers Guild (NLG) attorney Michael Deutsch, from the People’s Law Office and one of Church’s defense attorneys. “The fact that the indictment charges the defendants with 11 serious felonies, including ‘terrorism’ and two separate ‘conspiracy’ charges for the alleged possession of 4 makeshift incendiary devices shows that the State is intent on continuing its strategy to sensationalize this case.”
While this is the first time the State’s Attorney’s Office has filed charges under the Illinois terrorism statute, certain aspects of the case, such as infiltration and the politicization of criminal activity, are common to other contemporary high-profile cases elsewhere in the country. In early May, federal terrorism and explosives charges were brought against five men in a Cleveland case that involved at least one infiltrator, questions of provocation, and the intentional use by prosecutors of terms like “anarchists” and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in an effort to politicize the accusations. Another federal explosives case stemming from the 2008 Republican convention protests in St. Paul also involved informants.
“The common thread running through the NATO 3 case and other similar contemporary cases is politically motivated infiltration,” said Chicago NLG spokesperson Kris Hermes. “Given that no Molotov cocktails or other incendiary devices have been used at any political demonstration in the U.S. in recent memory, questions of whether law enforcement is in fact provoking or manufacturing criminal activity remain unanswered and extremely relevant.”
At least two infiltrators were used to arrest the NATO 3 defendants, as well as two other activists seriously charged during the NATO demonstrations in May. “Mo” and “Gloves” were part of a months-long investigation into Occupy Chicago, including getting arrested in April during protests to keep the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic open. Questions remain as to the infiltrators’ intent, as well as the breadth of their involvement. The infiltrators were also arrested in the Bridgeport house raid, at the same time the NATO 3 defendants were arrested, but “Mo” and “Gloves” have not been seen since. Six other activists arrested in the raid were released more than 30 hours later without any charges.
The NATO 3 were formally indicted by grand jury on June 12th and are expected to be arraigned at 9am on Monday, July 2nd in room 101 of the Cook County Courthouse at 2600 S. California.