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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/28/14

'NATO 3' in court on terrorism charges, defense claims entrapment

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Originally published at Digital Journal

The Traffic Stop

Three protesters stopped by Chicago police shortly before a 2012 NATO Summit protest who posted video of what clearly appears to be harassment are finally in court on terrorism charges after nearly two years in police custody.

The men, Brian Church, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Betterly, of Oakland Park, Fla., are victims of an entrapment according to defense attorneys. The men were between 20 and 24 at the time of the arrests.

The young mens' odyssey began when they were stopped for making a turn on "private property." Chicago police (featured video above) began asking about whether they were somehow involved in the upcoming protest against the NATO occupation in Afghanistan and about other issues. The men admitted as much as police embarked upon a search of their vehicle. The search was captured on one of the mens' camcorders, then posted on Youtube.

In it, the young men can be heard ribbing police as they search the trunk, saying "if you find any money in this car let me know, we're all pretty broke," and mocking "you're so funny." The police then joke about the 1968 National Democratic Convention, when police attacked anti-Vietnam War protesters, saying:

Police 1: "What did they say in '68?"
Police 2: "Billyclub to the f-ing skull."
One of the officers at one point says "Ok now I'll beat your white ass."

As the encounter ends, the police can be heard saying: "We'll come looking for you. Each and every one of you."

Less than a month later, all three were arrested on charges of conspiring to commit terrorist acts, with evidence obtained by police infiltrators who went under the names "Mo" and "Gloves." Police charge the three were planning to attack Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house, four different police stations, police cars, and other financial and institutional targets. The men, a court filing "Factual Proffer" states, were set to do battle with police with "swords, a hunting bow, throwing stars, and knives with brass-knuckle handles." The defense has accused the police of planting the weapons before the raid in which they were found.

In the indictment, however, no mention is made of the broad assortment of weapons. The grand jury returned only a bare-bones indictment charging the defendants "possessed and manufactured any incendiary device." (Read the indictment.)

Occupy Chicago activists have alleged "Mo" and "Gloves" have a history of attempting to provoke protesters to acts of violence. In a report on the NATO 3 by Matt Stroud and Steve Horn, Occupy Chicago mental health clinic activist Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle recalls he was arrested along with "Mo" in April of 2012, after they and other protesters barricaded themselves in a clinic scheduled for closure. Ginsberg-Jaeckle says while in jail, "Mo" approached him and said: "What's our next step? We need to step this up a notch."

Defense attorney Sarah Gelsomino of the National Lawyers Guild claimed "a pattern of harassment against the men" after they were arrested in May of 2012. Gelsomino said:

"They...posted video online in an attempt to expose the police misconduct. Each of those three are now being charged with these crimes."
Defense alleges the prosecution's case is built on:

"idle chatter, laced with bravado and abetted, encouraged and egged on by the undercover police agents."
The Chicago Tribune reports that any incendiary devices were in the possession of the undercover police at all times. One defendant, Jared Chase, was captured on video accompanied by "Mo" as they bought gasoline at a BP station across the street from the apartment where the men and other protesters were staying, referred to by police as a "safe house."

Gelsomino, a defense attorney for Chase, has said her client viewed the undercover officer as a father figure.

"Mo" and "Gloves"
Suspected Undercover Police Infiltrating Peaceful Protests
Suspected Undercover Police Infiltrating Peaceful Protests
(Image by Courtesy Occupy Chicago)
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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)

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