Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly, three activists arrested in a midnight raid in the days leading up to the NATO Summit, appeared today in Cook County Criminal Court. The activists are facing trump-up terrorism related charges that defense attorneys suspect stem from a set-up concocted by government infiltrators and provocateurs. The three were assigned to their trial judge, Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson, entered their pleas of not guilty today.
In the gallery, supporters wearing yellow t-shirts stood up in unison when the three activists were brought into the courtroom. Many in the gallery silently raised their fists in the air in a show of support.
At their last court date, prosecutors refused to turn over the activists’ indictment to defense attorneys, citing today’s court date as the unveiling date. However, defense attorneys were able to obtain a copy from the Cook County Clerk’s office before today’s appearance. Among the litany of exaggerated charges, the indictment alleges a conspiracy beginning as early as October of 2011, yet, the limited evidence that prosecutors have provided so far fails to demonstrate what allegedly occurred prior to May 2012. In addition, the State has not provided any material the role of federal agencies in the case. As Michael Deutsch of People’s Law Office said to the press after the court date, “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 of this case.”
The limited evidence and discovery thus far demonstrate the efforts of the State’s Attorney’s Office to obfuscate the facts, making it clear that this is a political prosecution. The highly charged rhetoric and sensationalized charges of “terrorism” are intended to discredit the Occupy Movement, the protest movement against NATO and other social justice causes.
People’s Law Office and other attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild will continue to defend the three against these spurious charges. The next court date set for July 16th at 10am in front of Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson in court room 303 at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building.