The Dissenter

In Spite of Political Prosecution, Jury Acquits NATO 3 of All Terrorism Charges

A jury found the “NATO 3” not guilty of all state terrorism charges including material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and possession and manufacturing of an incendiary device with the intent to commit terrorism. They were found not guilty of possessing an incendiary device with the intention to commit arson and not guilty of solicitation of arson. It was a huge victory for defense attorneys in the case.

However, the three men were found guilty of possessing an incendiary device to commit arson, a charge that carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. They also were found guilty of possessing an incendiary device with the knowledge that it would be used to commit arson and found guilty of lesser mob action charges, which jurors were able to select if they did not want to find the “NATO 3” guilty of terrorism.

That the judge granted defense attorneys’ motion to have mob action added as a lesser-included offense to the material support for terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism charges was key to the outcome. It gave the jury the option of finding them guilty of these charges instead.

Brian Jacob Church, Brent Betterly and Jared Chase, who came here for protests at the NATO summit, were targeted by undercover police and then arrested for their alleged involvement in making Molotov cocktails late in the evening on May 16, 2012. They were labeled terrorists by the State’s Attorney Office in a criminal complaint that was a fantasy of radical terror.

All of this took place a little over two days before the NATO meeting.

Michael Deutsch, defense attorney for Church, “This is a victory not only for these three young men but a victory for everyone. When you start to trivialize terrorism and charge protesters with terrorism, then we are threatening all kinds of rights to protest and to speak out.”

He called it a “victory for the city of Chicago” and “all the people who came here to protest NATO.” It is obviously disappointing “there were some counts they were convicted of but “the fact of the matter is that [Illinois State’s Attorney of Cook County] Anita Alvarez should be made to be held accountable for politically motivated charges.”

To the idea that Alvarez and prosecutors in this case were pleased, Deutsch said, “They’re not being honest with you. They made a terrorism charge. They promoted it as terrorism. They argued it as terrorism. And they lost each and every one.”

“This is a huge, huge victory,” Thomas Durkin, defense attorney for Chase, said. “You cannot imagine what it takes to stand up to the type of pressure and those type of charges and have a jury stand up to the pressure and innuendo and all the fear thrown around that courtroom and come back and say no..” This is a tribute to the system, Durkin added. It was a “big day for the rule of law” in Chicago and the country.

Alvarez maintained in her comments to reporters, according to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Rummana Hussain, that this case was not “overcharged.”

…”The statute was created for this very purpose. Chicago doesn’t host NATO every year, so everybody is criticizing me for bringing charges under a statute that was never used [in Chicago]. But why is that statute there? The statute was this very purpose,” a visibly angry Alvarez said.

“I did not overcharge. Defense attorneys can say what ever they want. The charges were bought and we felt very strongly that the facts supported the charges and I would bring them again tomorrow with no apologies and no second guessing. Defense attorneys can say whatever they want. They’re being paid to say whatever they want to…”

Alvarez invoked a real terrorism event to insinuate and cling to her fantasy that these men ever were going to commit terrorism, “You know what? My job is public safety, and that’s exactly what we did. Have we forgotten about Boston? Have we forgotten about homemade bombs in backpacks?”

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."