The “NATO 3,” Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly appeared once again in Cook County Criminal Court today. The three activists were arrested in a midnight raid in the Bridgeport neighborhood in the days leading up to the NATO Summit. All three have since pled not guilty to the terrorism related charges they are currently facing. Defense attorneys for the three activists continue to assert these charges are the result of undercover infiltrator’s provocation of the three young men.
Immediately before the three activists were trotted out before the court, Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson read from a Decorum Order, indicated what behavior would be accepted by individuals in the gallery. The Order read: “All persons in the courtroom must remain silent during all proceedings. There will be no talking, noise making, standing, kneeling, waving, hand raising or other conduct of solidarity, camaraderie, protest, approval or disapproval in the courtroom or in the hallway outside the courtroom.” By reading this Order it appeared to be a warning directed to supporters for the three activists. At the last court date, supporters wearing yellow t-shirts stood up in unison and silently raised their fists in a moving show of solidarity with the political prisoners. The Order further warns that any person found to be in violation of the Decorum may be excluded from the courtroom and/or held in contempt and face up to 6 months in prison or a fine of up to $500.
Prosecutors turned over discovery to defense attorneys today, which included 23 CDs of audio recordings and approximately 200 pages of documents. These audio recordings are amongst the first evidence obtained by the defense in what is likely to be a drawn-out discovery process, which the prosecution has promised to make a “good faith effort” to complete by September 4, 2012. However, the State’s Attorney has yet to provide any of the requested documents regarding the role played by federal agencies in the case against the activists. After the last court date Michael Deutsch of the People’s Law Office told the press, “there’s going to be a lot of fighting around the discovery in this case because we know there were other law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and the provocateurs in this case.” Additionally, Judge Wilson predicted there would be a number of pre-trial motions made by attorneys for both sides.
The limited evidence and discovery thus far continue to demonstrate the charges against the “NATO 3” are the result of police entrapment, and are intended to discredit the Occupy Movement, the protest movement against NATO and other social justice causes.
Michael Deutsch and Sarah Gelsomino of the People’s Law Office and other attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild will continue to defend the three activists against the trumped-up, politically motivated charges. The next court date is set for August 27, 2012 at 10am in front of Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson in court room 303 at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building.
People’s Law Office is defending Brian Jacob Church as part of a long-standing commitment to defend activists who the government seeks to discredit by labeling them “terrorists.” To read more about our work defending dissent, visit the Political Repression and Free Speech pages on this site.