National Lawyers Guild Attorneys Accuse City of Sensational Charges Applied to NATO Protesters
Use of terrorism-related charges by police stem from infiltration, provocation according to defense attorneys
Chicago, IL – Three NATO protesters were brought before a bond judge today on charges of possession of explosives or incendiary devices, material support for terrorism, and conspiracy. For the first time since a Wednesday night raid on a Bridgeport home where activists were staying, the State’s Attorney’s Office read a laundry list of allegations and sought $5 million cash bonds for each of them. However, after hearing from National Lawyers Guild (NLG) attorneys defending the three Occupy activists, Cook County Judge Edward Harmening imposed a $1.5 million D-Bond.
During the Wednesday night house raid, police broke down the doors of multiple apartment units with guns drawn and searched residences without a warrant or consent. In addition to 9 arrests made that night, NLG attorneys believe that two undercover police or confidential informants were arrested with the others and were later released. Of the 9 activists arrested, 6 were released without any charges despite being shackled for at least 18 hours in solitary confinement and denied access to attorneys.
“These sensational accusations are unfounded and contradict the accounts of other detained witnesses and released arrestees,” said NLG attorney Michael Deutsch with the People’s Law Office. “This effort to vilify protesters smacks of entrapment based on manufactured crimes, and is a common tactic of law enforcement during National Special Security Events.” In the bond hearing, the State’s Attorney said that the defendants were self-described anarchists, yet no such political beliefs were expressed by any of them.
During the raid, police seized computers, cell phones and home brew-making equipment among other items. However, police have not yet disclosed the search warrant or the affidavit of probable cause. The 3 defendants, Jared Chase, Brent Betterly, and Brian Jacob Church, will appear again in Cook County Court, Branch 98 at 2600 South California on Tuesday at 11:30am to determine how the State’s Attorney will proceed with the criminal cases.
Just last week, all three defendants were surrounded by several police squad cars outside of a CVS, detained for no apparent reason and asked questions about why they were in Chicago and what they planned to do during the NATO summit. One of the defendants recorded the encounter and posted an edited version on YouTube. When Superintendent McCarthy questioned the validity of the footage in the media, the entire video was quickly posted.
More than two-dozen people have been arrested so far in the lead up to the NATO summit, which begins tomorrow. At least 7 arrestees in addition to the ones with terrorism-related charges are currently in custody. The NLG is staffing a 24-hour hotline, as well as dispatching dozens of Legal Observers to record police misconduct and representing anyone arrested during the demonstrations.
Photographs of aftermath of house raid in Bridgeport: