Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
For Immediate Release: May 19, 2012
National Lawyers Guild Decries Terrorism Charges Against Occupy Activists protesting NATO Summit
Preemptive raids, terrorism and conspiracy charges are common characteristics of National Special Security Events
Chicago, IL -- After holding NATO protesters for up to 48 hours, and releasing 6 out of 9 arrestees without any charges, the City of Chicago filed state charges last night against 3 Occupy activists from Florida, including possession of explosives or incendiary devices, material support for terrorism, and conspiracy. On Wednesday night at approximately 11:30pm, police raided a house in the Bridgeport neighborhood, detained several people in multiple apartments, and arrested 9 activists. Police broke down doors with guns drawn and searched residences without a warrant or consent.
"The National Lawyers Guild deplores the charges against Occupy activists in the strongest degree," said Sarah Gelsomino with the NLG and the People's Law Office. "It's outrageous for the city to apply terrorism charges when it's the police who have been terrorizing activists and threatening their right to protest."
NLG attorneys are questioning why it took the city 48 hours, the limit on holding arrestees without a court hearing, to impose such serious charges. Although some accusations of Molotov cocktails have been made by police, they have provided no evidence of criminal intent or wrongdoing on the part of the activists. On Thursday, when asked about the raid at a press conference, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy knew so little about the alleged terrorism investigation that he said he would have to gather further information before commenting.
The 3 activists charged are Jared Chase, Brent Beterly, and Brian Jacob Church. Last week, all three defendants were surrounded by several police squad cars outside of a CVS, detained for no apparent reason and asked questions about why they were in Chicago and what they planned to do during the NATO summit. One of the defendants recorded the encounter and posted an edited version on YouTube. When Superintendent McCarthy questioned the validity of the footage in the media, the entire video was quickly posted.
More than 20 people have been arrested so far in the lead up to the NATO summit, which begins tomorrow. At least 3 arrestees in addition to the ones charged tonight are still in custody. "Preemptive raids meant to intimidate and stifle dissent are all too common during National Special Security Events, such as the NATO summit," said Gelsomino.
NLG attorneys will be representing the 3 defendants in their criminal cases and will be at their bond hearing Saturday at 12pm at 2600 South California Ave.