Free the #NATO3! – Occupy Wall St statement in defense of the 3 arrested

WOS note: We point out that although this statement is supportive, it is not directly from the 3 and doesn’t seem to be from their close friends and comrades. We will continue to post relevant information but also remind that at this point much of the information is from the police and media. We will be posting any statements we receive from the arrested or their affinities about their situation and desires.
from occupywallst:
Late Wednesday night, nine #noNATO activists were arrested in a preemptive raid in the southside Chicago neighborhood Bridgeport. Chicago police broke into multiple homes with guns drawn and began rounding up the sleeping activists and bystanders.They did not present a warrant. Police ransacked the home, destroying property, throwing possessions around, dumping bags out, insulting people with homophobic slurs, and seizing cell phones. One person who had been staying at the house but was not present during the raid was even arrested while at a nearby pharmacy.
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Update, 1:30pm ET: Protesters are gathering outside the bond hearing. The Sheriff originally allowed only three people to enter before ultimately allowing 10. Bail has been set at $1.5 million each. Mainstream corporate media are reporting that the 3 arrested activists were planning attacks on police stations, the Mayor’s home, and the Obama campaign headquarters — despite the fact that authorities “have provided no evidence of criminal intent or wrongdoing on the part of the activists,” according to a press release from the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild. Chicago Police admit they had infiltrated organizers. According to the Chicago Sun Times, ¨the undercover operation had been underway for weeks.¨ Lawyers, friends, and family of the accused maintain the ¨bomb making¨ equipment seized by police was actually a homebrew beer-making kit belonging to one of the residents and that the terrorism charges are sensational allegations to terrorize NATO protesters. It seems to have had an opposite effect – #NATO3 is trending on Twitter. A solidarity march has been called for LaSalle and Jackson to Daley Plaza at 3:30PM Central.


This video shows Chicago police questioning occupiers about Occupy Chicago, the NATO protests, and threatening violence after arbitrarily pulling over their car in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago earlier this week. The video went viral after the activists posted it to social media. Now, three of them are being charged with terrorism in the wake of a warrantless preemptive raid on activists’ homes in Chicago.

An attorney from the National Lawyers Guild describes the video:

They were driving in a car and were pulled over without any kind of justification or reason by the Chicago police department. They were surrounded by police and they were questioned for a very long period of time about what they were doing in Chicago, why they were here to protest, what their political affiliations were, how they identified politically—All kinds of absolutely outrageous questions that certainly do not indicate any kind of illegal behavior because it is not constitutional simply to accuse them of a crime because of a political belief.

One officer can be heard in the video saying, “We’ll come look for you, each and every one of you.” Police also made references to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where protesters were violently beaten back by National Guardsmen:

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.”

Late Wednesday night, nine #noNATO activists were arrested in a preemptive raid in the southside Chicago neighborhood Bridgeport. Chicago police broke into multiple homes with guns drawn and began rounding up the sleeping activists and bystanders.They did not present a warrant. Police ransacked the home, destroying property, throwing possessions around, dumping bags out, insulting people with homophobic slurs, and seizing cell phones. One person who had been staying at the house but was not present during the raid was even arrested while at a nearby pharmacy.

They were then held in the Organized Crime Division for nearly 36 hours until Friday night. One of the activists said police held them without ever saying why and threatened them with felony conspiracy charges in an attempt to get them to falsely accuse someone from the movement. While in detention, they were shackled, taunted, and called terrorists by police. Six were later released without charge.

Three of them have now been charged with “possession of incendiary or explosive device, conspiracy to commit terrorism & providing material support for terrorism,” according to attorney Sarah Gelsomino with the National Lawyers Guild. The three being charged are the same people who posted the viral video depicting police threatening activists.

Police waited until 2am, when most protesters were asleep, to announce the charges. The 3 are still in jail. Occupy Chicago has called the trumped-up charges retaliation for posting the video exposing police threatening activists. The NLG declared, “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 three activists will appear in bond court at noon (May 19) at 26th & California. Occupy Chicago is calling for jail support! Arrive at 11am Central.

Bail Fund – PLEASE DONATE!


PRESS RELEASE
Chicago Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
For Immediate Release:
May 19, 2012

National Lawyers Guild Decries Terrorism Charges Against Occupy Activists protesting NATO Summit
Preemptive raids and conspiracy charges are common characteristics of National Special Security Events

Chicago, IL — After holding NATO protesters for up to 48 hours, and releasing 6 out of 9 arrestees without any charges, the City of Chicago filed state charges last night against 3 Occupy activists from Florida, including possession of explosives or incendiary devices, material support for terrorism, and conspiracy. On Wednesday night at approximately 11:30pm, police raided a house in the Bridgeport neighborhood, detained several people in multiple apartments, and arrested 9 activists. Police broke down doors with guns drawn and searched residences without a warrant or consent.

“The National Lawyers Guild deplores the charges against Occupy activists in the strongest degree,” said Sarah Gelsomino with the NLG and the People’s Law Office. “It’s outrageous for the city to apply terrorism charges when it’s the police who have been terrorizing activists and threatening their right to protest.”

NLG attorneys are questioning why it took the city 48 hours, the limit on holding arrestees without a court hearing, to impose such serious charges. Although some accusations of Molotov cocktails have been made by police, they have provided no evidence of criminal intent or wrongdoing on the part of the activists. On Thursday, when asked about the raid at a press conference, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy knew so little about the alleged terrorism investigation that he said he would have to gather further information before commenting.

The 3 activists charged are Jared Chase, Brent Beterly, and Brian Jacob Church. Last week, all three defendants were surrounded by several police squad cars outside of a CVS, detained for no apparent reason and asked questions about why they were in Chicago and what they planned to do during the NATO summit. One of the defendants recorded the encounter and posted an edited version on YouTube. When Superintendent McCarthy questioned the validity of the footage in the media, the entire video was quickly posted.

More than 20 people have been arrested so far in the lead up to the NATO summit, which begins tomorrow. At least 3 arrestees in addition to the ones charged tonight are still in custody. “Preemptive raids meant to intimidate and stifle dissent are all too common during National Special Security Events, such as the NATO summit,” said Gelsomino.

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