Lawyers for the three Occupy activists, known as the “NATO 3,” charged with material support for terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism under a never previously used Illinois statute passed in haste after September, 11, 2001, filed a motion and memorandum of law challenging the statutory definitions of “terrorism” as unconstitutionally vague. The activists also argue that the enumeration of “terrorist acts” under the statute fail to require that such acts violate state or federal law and thus encompasses potentially legal acts, including those protected by the First Amendment.
The legal papers assert that the definition of terrorism, “an intent to coerce or intimidate a significant portion of the civilian population” without requiring an element of force or violence, or defining the meaning of “significant portion of the civilian population,” also impinges on First Amendment advocacy, and fails to provide the constitutionally required notice to those facing potential criminal charges. The vague statute also allows for the arbitrary and politically motivated use of the statute by the police and prosecutors.
In fact, the activists assert that the use of the vague open-ended charges of terrorism was part of a law enforcement plan, using undercover Chicago Police, to infiltrate and discredit Occupy and the Anti-NATO demonstrators. On the eve of the major anti-NATO demonstration in May, 2012, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office charged the three activists with terrorism, issuing a press release alleging sensationalist plots, none of which ever occurred.
The activists allege that the statute is unconstitutionally vague on its face, as well as applied to the specific facts alleged against them. After the State’s response, the activists expect on hearing on their motion in February.