Today in the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, the NATO 3 were sentenced to between 5 and 8 years in prison. The prosecutors had argued that they should receive 14 years and serve their sentences consecutively, whereas the defense attorneys had obviously argued that they should receive light sentences, if not simply being sentenced to time served. Brian Jacob Church was sentenced to 5 years, Brent Betterly to 6 years, and Jared Chase to 8 years. They will all serve this time at 50% of the sentenced time (e.g., 6 year sentence equals 3 years served) and will receive credit for the two years they have served pending trial. Upon release, they will each have two years of supervised release as well.
Supporters packed the courtroom for the NATO 3 today despite the draconian restrictions placed on public attendance by the judge. While the prosecutors had plenty of cops lined up to smear the defendants on the stand during the sentencing hearing, their side of the courtroom was notably empty. Not even Anita Alvarez, the head attorney who has been so vocal about the defendants being terrorists, was around today. After the jury issued its verdict, Alvarez claimed in an interview that the prosecutors had not lost the case even though all of their terrorist claims had been rejected. She melodramatically asked if the reporters had forgotten about the Boston Marathon bombing. She even asked one reporter if he would like a Molotov cocktail thrown at him.
Predictably, the prosecutors continued this ludicrous line of reasoning by repeatedly comparing the NATO 3 to the Boston Marathon bombers—with the only difference being that undercover cops had found and stopped them before they did what the bombers had done. This comparison is, of course, absurd and offensive. The defense objected to this comparison but was, predictably, overruled. Also predictably, the judge promoted this twisted perspective in his explanation of his sentencing.
If anything, the court’s blatant, unabashed explanation of this worldview shows all the more clearly how the NATO 3 were set up from the beginning. The undercovers entrapped them so that the case would exactly fit the prosecution’s designs, and the judge was more than happy to push this case along according to the desired script. This is no less of a conspiracy than what the defendants were charged with, albeit more nefarious because it is sanctioned by the spectacle of “justice” called the criminal legal system and enforced by the militarized policing apparatus that aids in the systemic oppression of the masses for the benefit of the elite. With this in mind, solidarity with the NATO 3 must necessarily include continuing to struggle against the economic and political forces that brought them to Chicago in the first place.
As the NATO 3 return to their cells to wait out the next few days before they are transferred to state prison, most of us will return to our homes and our lives. But we must not forget them or our other comrades behind bars. Stay tuned for updated addresses for the 3 so we can flood them with letters, postcards and books as soon as they are transferred. They have hard time yet to serve and we need to make sure they know that they are not alone.
In the near future, we will be sending out more detailed notes from today and updating our zine. In the meantime, check out our storify pages of tweets from the proceedings today.
* Post-trial motion hearing: https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-post-trial-motions
* State’s witnesses at sentencing hearing: https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentencing-hearing-state-witnesses
* Defense witness at sentencing hearing: https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentencing-hearing-defense-witness
* Aggravation and mitigation arguments: https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentencing-aggravation-and-mitigation-argum
* Statements by Jacob and Brent prior to sentencing: https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentencing-defendant-statements
* The sentences: https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentences
The defendants will all need support while in prison, so please donate to the NATO 3 support fund today!