1 July 2016

Free NATO 3 Activist Jared Chase Now!

This past April, the last imprisoned member of the NATO 3, Jared Chase, was sentenced to an additional year in prison on bogus charges of aggravated battery against a guard while he was awaiting trial. This additional time is purely vindictive, especially in light of his serious health problems. Chase has been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a degenerative hereditary neurological condition, as well as hepatitis C. Prison authorities have repeatedly refused to provide him with adequate health care.

In May 2012, the NATO 3 were swept up in a wave of state repression targeting the thousands who were gathering in Chicago to protest a summit meeting of the NATO imperialist military alliance. The summit took place against the backdrop of the U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan and the bombing of Libya the year before. To ensure this gathering of war criminals in Commander-in-Chief Obama’s hometown went off without a hitch, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, mobilized thousands of National Guardsmen, active-duty troops and cops from as far away as North Carolina.

Four days before the summit, on May 16, Chicago cops raided an apartment housing out-of-town protesters and arrested Jared Chase, Brent Betterly and Brian Church. Undercover cops who were living in the apartment at the time of the police raid alleged that the three were plotting to make four Molotov cocktails and hurl them at police stations and other targets. They were slammed with frame-up charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device. As we said at the time, “the arrests of Betterly, Church and Chase have all the earmarks of a classic case of police entrapment and provocation” (“Defend Anti-NATO Protesters!” WV 1003, 25 May 2012).

The Illinois anti-terror statutes under which the NATO 3 were charged had been enacted as part of the “war on terror” in the wake of 9/11. From the beginning, we have warned that while the first targets of the “war on terror” were mainly immigrants, particularly Muslims and those from the Near East, the ultimate targets would be the labor movement, black people, the left and anyone who dared to protest the depredations of U.S. imperialism.

In February 2014, after having spent nearly two years in jail awaiting trial, Chase, Betterly and Church were convicted of possessing Molotov cocktails and of misdemeanor mob action. They were sentenced to prison terms of eight, six and five years respectively.

Chase received the longest sentence after a guard testified that Chase had thrown human waste at him. According to a professor of neurology who testified at Chase’s trial, it is common for people with Huntington’s to throw urine and feces. Other symptoms of the disease include personality changes, impulsiveness and impaired judgment, as well as slurred speech and involuntary, jerky movements. In April, Chase pleaded guilty to the alleged assault, fearing he would receive another three to five years if convicted. He has effectively been punished twice for the same incident.

We print below a June 13 letter by the PDC—a legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League—to the Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

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The Partisan Defense Committee writes to protest the inhumane treatment of prisoner Jared Chase, the last member of the “NATO 3” to remain behind bars. His inhumane treatment includes repeated beatings and harassment by prison guards, denial of needed medical treatment, and being stripped of good time credits.

Chase, along with Brent Betterly and Brian Church were victimized in a sting operation as part of the Chicago cops’ efforts to quash protest against the May 2012 gathering of NATO in Chicago. Although the jury rejected trumped-up charges of “conspiracy to commit terrorism,” the NATO 3 were convicted in 2014 on felony charges of possessing Molotov cocktails, as well as misdemeanor “mob action” charges.

On April 11, Chase was sentenced to an additional year in prison based on a new set of bogus charges, claiming that he committed “aggravated battery” against a Cook County guard while he was awaiting trial. Chase, who turned 32 years old this month, has also lost a year of good time based on a series of incident reports he received for persistently demanding treatment for Huntington’s disease, an incurable hereditary degenerative neural condition. Although Chase is rapidly deteriorating, he has faced inhuman conditions in prison, including beatings by guards and long periods in solitary confinement without access to visitors or necessary medical treatment.

Chase should never have spent a day behind bars. We demand his immediate release. We also demand that his good time be reinstated and that he receive all the medical care he urgently needs.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1092, 1 July2016)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.