by Stephen Lendman
On May 19 and 20, NATO occupied Chicago violently. Downtown residents were in virtual lockdown. No-fly zones were imposed. Elaborate barricades were erected. Constitutional rights were suspended.
Getting around was hazardous. Anyone could be stopped, searched, interrogated, or arrested. Chicagoans were under siege.
NATO is the world's first global war-making alliance. Largely a US imperial tool, it's a killing machine. Its 28 members and dozens of partner states comprise about one-third of the world's nations.
They menace humanity. For days, thousands protested nonviolently during their Chicago summit. Police brutality confronted them.
They faced no-holds barred surveillance, vigilantism, and brutality. They're viciousness is infamous. Their tactics include physical confrontation, flagrant abuses, and criminal assaults. Their odious reputation is well-deserved.
In full riot gear, they faced off against peaceful protesters. They blocked free access to public streets. They bludgeoned anyone confronting them. Pitched battles erupted.
Innocent victims were brutalized. Carte blanche authority let them harass, abuse, beat, detain, and levy false charges. Dozens of arrests were made. Most were held for a day or so and released. Others weren't as lucky.
Activists were targeted. Constitutional law was discarded. On May 17, an NLG press release condemned a preemptive Bridgeport neighborhood raid. At least eight arrests were made. No one committed a crime.
Witnesses said cops burst into a six-unit apartment building violently with no search warrant. Doing so is illegal. They entered guns drawn.
One tenant was tackled in his kitchen. Two were handcuffed for two hours in their living room while police searched their apartment and a neighboring one.
A search warrant produced four hours later had no authorizing signature. Beer-making supplies and cell phones were seized.
Three youths were charged with possession of incendiary devices, material support for terrorism, and conspiracy to commit it. An indictment explained below added more spurious accusations.
Corroborating evidence wasn't explained because there is none. The NATO 3 are innocent.
Nonetheless, on June 20, AP headlined "NATO protesters indicted on 11 counts in Chicago, including terror-related and other charges," saying:
A grand jury indicted Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly on 11 counts. They include four terrorism related ones and "half a dozen new charges."
Days before NATO's summit began, they were arrested. Illinois' anti-terrorism statutes were used for the first time. All charges were baseless.
Defense lawyers gave AP the 12 page indictment. It "provides no details about the evidence" because there is none. Church, Chase and Betterly are victims. They committed no crimes. They're bogusly charged.
They face long prison terms if convicted. A July 2 arraignment is scheduled.
On June 20, the National Lawyers Guild Chicago chapter headlined "NLG Uncovers Terrorism Indictments in Chicago NATO Protest Case," saying:
"Eleven charges come without any supporting evidence."
NLG lawyers representing the defendants were initially denied access to charges brought against them. Finally the indictment was obtained. Charges include:
Providing material support for terrorism.
Conspiracy to commit terrorism.
Multiple counts of possession of an incendiary device.
Conspiracy to commit arson.
Solicitation to commit arson.
Two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
Defendants are detained on a $1.5 million bond. NLG attorney Michael Deutsch said:
"The prosecutor controls the grand jury and is able to obtain a rubber-stamped indictment for any charges it desires."
"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."
It's common prosecutorial strategy when no evidence exists. Juries are intimidated to indict and convict. Headlines stoke fear. Innocent victims are imprisoned despite no plot, crimes, or intent to commit them.
It's the American way.
Illinois terrorism statutes were used for the first time. "(I)nfiltration and the politicization of criminal activity are common to other contemporary high-profile cases elsewhere in the country."
Chicago NLG spokesperson Kris Hermes said:
"The common thread running through the NATO 3 case and other similar contemporary cases is politically motivated infiltration."
"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 ("Mo" and "Gloves") framed Church, Chase and Betterly. They were involved in a months-long Occupy Chicago investigation.
In April, they were arrested during protests to keep the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic open. Questions remain about the "intent" and "breadth" of their involvement.
They were also arrested in Bridgeport where the defendants were apprehended. They've since disappeared from view and haven't been seen. Six other activists arrested during the raid were released uncharged after 30 hours in custody.
"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."
They're up against prosecutors determined to convict. They'll use every dirty they know to do it.
Ordinary people face long odds. Victims charged with terrorist related charges rarely achieve justice.
Despite no plot, crimes, or malicious intent, NATO 3 victims may face decades in prison.
It's the American way!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.