Chicago police are being accused of entrapping a trio of South Florida activists into agreeing to commit violent terrorist acts against the city during the NATO Summit protests, leading to their arrest and some very serious charges.
One of the men arrested is an Occupy Miami activist who spent the night in jail with me after my last arrest.
As a result, I spent the weekend fielding calls from reporters who were trying to find details on Jared Chase, a 27-year-old man who is facing 85 years in prison along with Brian Church, 22, and Brent Betterly, 24, for allegedly planning to use Molotov cocktails to attack police precincts, the mayor’s home and Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago.
Lawyers for the men, or the Nato 3 as they’ve been labeled, state that two activists who had befriended them turned out to be police informants or undercover officers named “Mo” and “Gloves” who most likely conjured the idea of committing terrorist acts.
UPDATE: Below is a photo of “Mo” as he is being lead away in handcuffs, even though he never made it to the jail. The picture was snapped by activists who gave it to the National Lawyers Guild, who then passed it on to Truthout, which provides a detailed update on this case.
Lawyers also say that the equipment to make the Molotov cocktails was nothing more than beer-making material and that the rest of the evidence was planted by the cops/informants.
But prosecutors say that Chase purchased the gasoline and brought it back to a home where they were staying, then proceeded to assist in the preparation of the Molotov cocktails with the other two men. Read the attorney general’s complaint here.
Of the five Occupy Miami activists that were incarcerated with me that night, Chase was the quiet one who spent most of the night sleeping on the cold concrete floor of the jail cell, so I really didn’t have much to say about him to the media.
All I could tell reporters from Local 10, Univision and the Chicago Sun-Times was that the Occupy Miami encampment had always emphasized a message of peace, which is why there was very little static with police compared to Occupy encampments throughout the country.
I also reminded reporters that law enforcement has a history of encouraging people to commit terrorism acts they would never have committed otherwise, only for them to wind up behind bars on felony charges.
Local 10’s Christina Vazquez actually interviewed Chase on January 31 right before the Occupy Miami eviction and his subsequent arrest and he stressed that same message of peace they all had been stressing for months.
CBS didn’t call me, but dragged me into the case by posting my mug shot along with Chase’s, giving the impression that I was part of the NATO 3, which means the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is probably debating whether to introduce that clip as evidence in its upcoming trial against me.
I ended up getting hired for the day as a photographer (and unofficial city guide) to work with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihalopoulus who did an excellent job in shining more light on the individuals arrested.
But the real story, of course, is in Chicago. This is what their lawyer had to say, according to Truth Out:
“We believe these are fabricated charges that are based on police informants and provocateurs,” said Deutsch. “This is a common pattern for people protesting. We know there were two police informants who infiltrated the group and we believe they’re the ones who provoked this and they’re the ones who had the illegal activity and the illegal materials. That’s our understanding.”
“Why would police do such a thing?,” Deutsch was asked in a press gathering in the aftermath of the bail hearing.
His response: “To discredit protesters that come to the city and to make it seem like the police are under attack when people are peacefully protesting.” Inside the courtroom, Deutsch said, “This is just propaganda to create a climate of fear. My clients came to peacefully protest.”
Entrapment, legally defined, is “when [a person] is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers or their agents to commit a crime that he had no previous intent to commit; and the law as a matter of policy forbids conviction in such a case.”
A few days before police raided the Southside Chicago home on Wednesday, the men were pulled over by Chicago police for making an illegal U-turn, which evidently gave police enough reasonable suspicion to search their car.
One of the men video recorded the traffic stop, which you can see above, even to the acknowledgement of police who are no longer allowed to arrest people on wiretapping charges for recording them in public without their consent.
One of the officers brought up the violence between cops and protesters during 1968 Democratic National Convention in which the saying among officers was “Billy club to the fucking skull.”
One of the activists pointed out that much of that violence was rooted in racial tensions, which prompted the cop to respond, “OK, now we’ll beat your white ass.”
Cops didn’t find anything illegal in the car, so they let them go by saying, “We’ll come looking for you. Each and every one of you.”
A few days later, they did just that. Not necessarily those cops but a whole swarm of Chicago cops as well as FBI and Secret Service agents.
They are being held on a $1.5 million bond and their next hearing is Tuesday.
I don’t condone any violent acts, but I wish I could live in a world where I could simply believe the police side of the story.
But this case sounds all too familiar.
According to a September 2011 Salon article:
The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade — much of it valid — but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting its own Terrorist plots. Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out — only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI.
Last year, the FBI subjected 19-year-old Somali-American Mohamed Osman Mohamud to months of encouragement, support and money and convinced him to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon, only to arrest him at the last moment and then issue a Press Release boasting of its success. In late 2009, the FBI persuaded and enabled Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian citizen, to place a fake bomb at a Dallas skyscraper and separately convinced Farooque Ahmed, a 34-year-old naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, to bomb the Washington Metro. And now, the FBI has yet again saved us all from its own Terrorist plot by arresting 26-year-old American citizen Rezwan Ferdaus after having spent months providing him with the plans and materials to attack the Pentagon, American troops in Iraq, and possibly the Capitol Building using “remote-controlled” model airplanes carrying explosives.
None of these cases entail the FBI’s learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it. They all involve the FBI’s purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them.
Or take the case of the Liberty City Seven in which seven young black men in Miami who had no money, no weapons, no contact with Al Qaeda and no knowledge of how to commit terrorist acts were arrested, tried and five eventually convicted of terrorism charges, even though the FBI director stated their plan was more “aspirational than operational.”
Or the case of the Texas Two, Bradley Crowder and David McKay, two Texas youths who traveled to Minneapolis in 2008 to protest during the Republican National Convention with a friend who not only turned out to be an informant, but who introduced the idea of making Molotov cocktails.
They ended up imprisoned after accepting a plea deal. A documentary “Better This World” was released in 2011 about their case. Check out the trailer below.
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