After the past weekend in Chicago at the NATO summit where nearly 100 protesters were arrested, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! speaks to National Lawyers Guild attorney Sarah Gelsomino who is representing on of the five activists charged with terror-related crimes. Two are accused of attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices, and three more are accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism and possession of explosives.
While many have been impressed by what is viewed as restraint on the part of the Chicago police department as far as violence towards occupy protesters goes, the #NoNATO protests may well be unparalleled in the abuse of legal authority and flagrant disregard for constitutional rights by law enforcement.
Gelsomino says the so-called "NATO Three" were set up by government informants who planted the explosives. "Our clients who are facing the most serious charges of terrorism are actually in solitary confinement right now, we just learned," Gelsomino says. "A very top priority this week is to get them out of that extremely punitive and extremely dangerous condition that they’re in right now."
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to the protesters detained during the NATO summit. According to the Chicago Police Department, nearly a hundred people were arrested over the course of the week. Five of them stand accused of terrorism-related offenses. Two men were arrested over the weekend for allegedly engaging in threatening behavior before the NATO summit. Sebastian Senakiewicz was charged with falsely making a terrorist threat, and Mark Neiweem was accused of attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices.
Before the weekend began, three activists were arrested on terror charges for an alleged plot to attack President Obama’s campaign headquarters and other sites around Chicago during the NATO summit. Jared Chase, Brent Betterly and Brian Jacob Church are accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism and possession of explosives. Police say they recovered materials for making Molotov cocktails in a raid last week. But attorneys for the so-called "NATO Three" say they were set up by government informants who planted the explosives. Supporters also say police seized equipment that was used for brewing homemade beer.
Michael Deutsch, an attorney for the protesters with the National Lawyers Guild, accused Chicago police of entrapment.
MICHAEL DEUTSCH: Obviously, we don’t have access to all the information that the state has. But what we do know is, is that there were police—undercover police officers that ingratiated themselves with people who come from out of town. And from our information, these so-called incendiary devices and the plans to attack police stations, attack the mayor’s office, is all coming from the mind of the police informants and are not coming from our clients, who are nonviolent protesters. They are not anarchists. They don’t belong to a Black Bloc organization. They’re involved with nonviolent protest. And what we believe is, is that this is a way to stir up prejudice against the people who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
AMY GOODMAN: To discuss the implications of these charges, we’re going to Chicago to speak with Sarah Gelsomino, an attorney with the People’s Law Office and the National Lawyers Guild. She’s representing one of the protesters facing terror charges from the summit.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Sarah.
SARAH GELSOMINO: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about exactly what happened.
SARAH GELSOMINO: Well, last Wednesday night at around 11:30 at night, the Chicago police executed a midnight raid on a house in the Bridgeport area in the Near South Side in Chicago, and they entered three different—excuse me, four apartment buildings in that house. In one of those apartments, they arrested nine people. In the other three, they, without warrant or consent, detained the individuals who lived in those building—in those apartments, interrogated them about their political beliefs and about their knowledge of the people who lived in that apartment where they arrested the nine people and searched their apartments. They also entered that fourth apartment, again without showing a warrant and without any consent. And there is where they eventually arrested the nine people. They arrested two additional people down the street. Six of those people have since been released without charges. As you know, the NATO Three are facing very serious terrorism threats—or terrorism charges. And the other two are who we now believe to be police informants.
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