Hearing for jailed anti-NATO protesters held on $1.5 million bail
State’s Attorney refuses again to present evidence
Chicago, IL – Three of the young men arrested in the days before the NATO summit appeared in court here, June 12. Charged with “material support for terrorism, possession of an incendiary device and conspiracy,” Jared Chase, Brent Betterly and Brian Jacob Church have been held for nearly a month on $1.5 million bail each. They expected to be able to see the evidence against them, such as police reports, a search warrant and an affidavit.
Wearing prison jumpsuits and shackles, the men were briefly ushered into the court, only to be sent back to their cells. Their supporters were disappointed and even the judge was surprised when the States Attorney declined to present any evidence. The judge ordered the States Attorney to present the evidence at an arraignment on July 2.
Attempts were made by the Chicago Police Department to brutally suppress the anti-NATO protests, especially on May 20 after the end of the permitted march and rallies sponsored by the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8). The National Lawyers Guild recorded 80 people injured by baton blows. The case of Betterly, Chase and Church has been highly controversial because it involves infiltration and an untested Illinois state terrorism law. There are two others who face indictments on June 13, one under the same terrorism law and another under explosives charges. Three others are awaiting indictments on felony charges as well.
Tom Durkin, one of the attorneys for the three, harshly criticized the state’s case and treatment of the men. “These defendants are being treated differently than other prisoners,” Durkin said. “They are treated worse than murderers,” he said, “and they justify that with the domestic terrorism charges.”
Durkin also scoffed at the law behind the case. “The statute is ridiculous. For example, burning a corn field is considered terrorism.” Regarding the state’s case, he remarked, “When this is over, I’m sure this is not a terrorism case; it might not be a case at all.” Finally, he stated, “The case stinks. It’s an informant created case.”
Over 20 Occupy Chicago activists, along with other supporters of the NATO 5, were present in the court room and vowed to continue to demand that all charges be dropped. Joe Iosbaker, an anti-war activist whose home was raided by the FBI in September 2010, urged the anti-NATO protesters to continue their resistance. He pointed to the case of Carlos Montes who won a victory in Los Angeles last week. “The District Attorney said he wanted Montes to spend five years in prison for his anti-war activism,” explained Iosbaker. “But the pressure from our movement forced the D.A. to accept a plea with no prison time for our brother. Repression can be defeated, if we unite, and if we mobilize broad support.”