30 May 2014
Free the NATO 3 Now!
On April 25, Cook County judge Thaddeus Wilson sentenced Jared Chase, Brent Betterly and Brian Church to prison for eight, six and five years respectively. The three fell prey to a sting operation carried out in the name of the bipartisan “war on terror” after traveling to Chicago to join protests against a May 2012 gathering of NATO imperialist war criminals. Across the country, “anti-terror” witchhunts have increasingly become a club wielded by the Feds and local cops in their efforts to quash leftist political protest. All opponents of capitalist inequality and the depredations of U.S. imperialism as well as fighters for black and immigrant rights have an interest in demanding freedom for the NATO 3.
The young activists had been convicted on February 7 on two frame-up felony counts of possessing Molotov cocktails and two misdemeanor “mob action” charges in what was a chemically pure example of police entrapment. Undercover agents Nadia Chikko and Mehmet Uygun infiltrated the Occupy group with whom the defendants, who had driven up from Florida, were bunking. The agents provocateurs hatched a plan, pushed it forward and assembled some Molotov cocktails, goading and dragging along Betterly, Church and Chase at every step. Despite two weeks of intense surveillance, not a single piece of evidence was produced linking the NATO 3 to the assembly of the Molotov cocktails, as charged in the indictment.
In the lead-up to the NATO summit, Democratic mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy whipped up an atmosphere of hysteria and unleashed a massive display of police power to intimidate protesters (see “Defend Anti-NATO Protesters!” WV No. 1003, 25 May 2012). The “Welcome Wagon” offered by Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, was captured in a YouTube video, posted by the NATO 3 less than a week prior to their arrest, that shows squad cars surrounding their vehicle. Invoking the police riot against protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, one cop taunts them, “What did they say back in ’68?” Another cop replies: “Billy club to the fucking skull.”
The NATO 3 are the first to ever be charged with violating Illinois anti-terror statutes, which were enacted after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But, in a partial setback to the state, the jury did not buy the “conspiracy to commit terrorism” charges. Calling the proceedings a “terrorist show trial,” the NATO 3’s defense team aptly noted that the state’s definition of terrorism was so vague and broad that it could include “labor strikes, peaceful occupations and sit-ins, political protests and boycotts.” And “conspiracy” is what the government uses to nail those it wants to silence but cannot charge with demonstrable criminal acts. Organizing against slavery was “conspiratorial,” and labor unions used to be considered illegal conspiracies in this country.
The conviction and draconian sentences for these activists is a frontal attack on the right of protest. The Partisan Defense Committee has contributed to their defense and urges WV readers to do likewise. Donations can be made at www.wepay.com/donations/freethenato3.
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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1047, 30 May 2014)
Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.