FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 13, 2014
Jury Selection Commences for the NATO 3 in First Case Under Several IL Terrorism Statutes
Supporters Decry the Charges as Politically Motivated, Vow to Pack the Courtroom in Solidarity
Chicago – Today, jury selection began for the NATO 3 case. Brent Betterly, Brian Jacob Church and Jared Chase were pre-emptively arrested in a spectacular raid by the Chicago Police Department on May 16, 2012, just days before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s summit and scheduled protests against its war practices and repressive role in world economics and politics. Two undercover Chicago police officers,known as “Mo” and “Gloves,” had infiltrated Occupy Chicago and quickly targeted the three activists who had traveled here together from Florida. Supporters of the defendants have long held that the defendants were targeted because of their political beliefs, associations and activism.
The 3 defendants have been charged with 11 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit arson, and several arson-related charges. The police and prosecution allege that the defendants constructed Molotov cocktails and planned to attack several targets in the city, including police precincts. Defense attorneys have characterized these charges as politically motivated and “worse than entrapment.” The defendants have been locked up in Cook County Jail since their arrest and are facing up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
“These charges are a clear attempt by the government to justify its exorbitant security expenditures for the NATO summit,” said Michelle Day. “Targeting these three activists enabled the government to claim that it was protecting the public while simultaneously sending a threat to everyone who dared to protest NATO and its policies. That threat was to stay home or risk spending decades in prison.”
The charges against these three defendants are not an isolated incident but part of a pattern of repressing social justice movements and criminalizing dissent. The Occupy movement itself was heavily spied upon by various law enforcement agencies across the country, as revealed by documents obtained in late 2012 through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.
“The government has a long history of infiltrating social justice movements and pressing outlandish charges to make examples of individual activists,” said Jude Ortiz. “These tactics threaten our work for social justice and we remain steadfast in our support of these latest targets of state repression.”
Jury selection will continue tomorrow and the opening statements in the trial will commence after the jury is selected. Supporters have vowed to pack the courtroom during trial to show both the defendants and the public that there is an entire social movement standing in solidarity with them. The defendants have received support from activists around the world since they were arrested.