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Three activists in Chicago for the NATO Summit protests — Bryan Church, Jarred Chase, Brent Betterly — are being charged with a major terrorist plot and "material support for terrorism" after they posted a video of police threatening the three with violence during the NATO summit.  The terror attacks were to include numerous Chicago police stations,  Obama’s national campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building, and Rahm Emanuel’s home in Ravenswood.  The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) contends the charges are fabricated and that the arrests are retaliation.  Guild attorney Michael Deustch charged that firebombs, "Molotov cocktails," were brought by undercover officers to the apartment where the three were staying.  The Chicago police are claiming the charges are the result of a "month-long investigation."

The following is the video posted on May 10, 2012:

 (Unedited version 27 minutes)

National Lawyers Guild attorney Sarah Gelsomino who is representing the activists said “Charging these people who are here to peacefully protest against NATO for terrorism when in reality the police have been terrorizing activists in Chicago is completely outrageous."

The men's attorneys released photos of home brew beer making equipment after charges were handed down alleging the filling of beer bottles with gasoline.  Home brewers often use clean, empty beer bottles and reusable caps to store and refrigerate finished beer.  The Chicago Tribune reports that the National Lawyers Guild "scoffed at accusations of bomb making and insisted the NATO protesters simply possessed beer-making equipment."  A Molotov cocktail is a crude bomb made of gasoline in a bottle with a wick.  The beer-making equipment was confiscated by the CPD.


Above: Home beer-making equipment, "NATO 3"


Above: Home beer-making equipment image from Homebrewingonline.com


Above: Color of gasoline in mason jar

The home brew equipment in the accuseds' apartment is filled with a liquid which seems to be beer, with foam on top.  For comparison, a photo from a home brewing website is below it, followed by a photo of a jar of gasoline, which is almost clear.  The color of the substances in the evidence and of the known beer is almost identical.  In no instance does gasoline contain foam.

The attorneys also released a photo of the apartment after it had been overturned by police after an unwarranted search, below:



Overturned room, "NATO 3"

A total of 9 activists were initially arrested in the apartment raid on Wednesday night, May 16.  FireDogLake reports:

Dan, one of the activists, described a horrifying experience where he had been held for a “number of hours” but did not know how long exactly because the police did not ever give the activists the time. They were not charged at any point during their detention, but Dan says he was threatened with felony conspiracy charges.

The police held them as long as they did so they could get them to falsely confess or snitch on someone in the movement, Dan adds.

Officers were rude. They would not provide the activists information on why they were being held in custody. They would not make a differentiation as to whether they were being detained in custody or whether they were under arrest and charged with something. The limbo was held over the activists’ head to terrify them and make them say something the police could use against activists here to protest NATO.

In the video which has gone viral on Youtube one officer can be heard in the video saying, “We’ll come look for you, each and every one of you.”   In the video the officers can be heard asking for and obtaining identification from at least two of the men.  The police can also be heard saying:

CPD Officer 1: “You like that, he knows these guys know, ’68. You guys know all about ’68. What did they say back in ’68?”

CPD Officer 2: “Billy club to the fucking skull.”

Commentary

The blogosphere has posted the official indictment, assumed here to be a true copy.  On May 16, six days after the video of the police stop was posted, it alleges that the defendants were in the apartment making firebombs using beer bottles and cutting up bandanas for wicks.  Why cut up and waste good bandanas? Any rag will do for a wick. This sounds to me like a cop idea for making the plot sound more "anarchisty."  They wear bandanas don't they?

The CPD had placed two informants/infiltrators in the house, which would be easy since it was a crash pad for 11, nine of whom were arrested that night.  Counsel for the defense Michael Deutsch has asserted that infiltrators planted "illegal materials" for the police to find during the raid.  The indictment alleges swords, hunting bows, throwing stars, knives, and a mortar tube were stockpiled at the apartment. Then the indictment alleges that defendants were going to "recruit" four groups of four people each, within days, to accept bombs and weapons from people they didn't know, possibly undercover police, for actions against targets which included fortress-like inner city police stations and the campaign headquarters of the president of the United States.  These are crimes which could draw life in prison or the death penalty should people be killed.  

It is unknown how many martial arts experts or expert bowmen the defendants expected to meet in the coming days, and what they would do against thousands of policemen all with sidearms, and many special teams with assault rifles .  It is hard to fathom what would happen to someone walking around with a hunting bow, large and difficult to conceal, in the middle of a protest.  

The indictment states that on May 16, Chase went to the BP gas station at 31st and Halsted and then returned to the apartment to help make bombs.  The indictment includes details of alleged conversation such as Church stating that:

"he wanted to recruit four groups of four coconspirators (for a total of 16 people) to conduct the raids, and that reconnaissance had already been conducted at CPD headquarters located at 3510 for the purpose of a planned attack."

Prosecution also alleges that defendants had discussed escape routes, targets, and avoidance of detection.

Given the presence of two informants, the prosecution should be able to produce extensive audio, if not hidden camera video as well, supporting these claims, as well as footage of Chase buying gasoline at the BP.  Even without a dedicated surveillance camera it is difficult to conceive that an inner city gas station is not monitored by surveillance cameras (GeoCommons.com dataset, Chicago.)

UPDATE III: Updates have been incorporated into the main diary, many thanks to all for great research and insight which makes an unbelievable de facto research department.  Last major additions to the diary:

- Defendant's counsel now says that gasoline-filled bottles were planted by undercovers mentioned in indictment, asserting more than entrapment, blatant evidence-planting.

- The question has been nagging me: Why did defense release photo of home brew kit?  What did that have to do with anything?  Answer: The attorneys released photos of home brew beer making equipment only after charges were handed down alleging the filling of beer bottles with gasoline.  Home brewers often use clean, empty beer bottles and reusable caps to store and refrigerate finished beer.  A good attorney can see where this is headed on the stand:

- "Were you filling beer bottles, Mr. X?"  

- "Yes, but..."

- "Thank you Mr. X, that will be all."

Originally posted to Ralph Lopez on Sat May 19, 2012 at 09:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group.

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