I sent Jared Chase a friend request on Facebook last month, but there’s a good chance he will never be able to accept it. I met him washing dishes in Dewey Square, where we chatted about life, and how hopeful we felt about the possibility of real change in the world. He was a most gentle and kind young man.
Now he is in jail on charges of terrorism, and there is a fair chance he will spend the rest of his life in jail.
Hailing from from New Hampshire, last Summer he came down to Boston to find work. He found a job at P.F. Chang’s restaurant, washing dishes and prepping orders. When Occupy Boston started up, he was so inspired that he soon came to live there for a couple weeks. Then he moved on to Occupy Miami, where he spent several months before heading up to Chicago with a couple of friends to take part in the protest against the NATO summit. While there, he was most likely a victim of entrapment, set up by undercover agents trained in successful entrapment techniques.
He was staying a friend’s apartment when agents raided the place. They also raided neighboring apartments and acted with utter impunity that betrays their biased and bigoted mindset, and refused to show warrants to any of the occupants they raided. They arrested Chase and others. Two supposed protesters soon disappeared and were revealed to be undercover agents involved in the setup.
Chase is charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, among other serious charges. His bail is set at $1.5 million, virtually guaranteeing that he will remain in jail until the trial.
Law enforcement agents train in ways of setting up people while avoiding the entrapment defense. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin from January 2012 states, “In the wake of 9/11, it no longer is enough for law enforcement officers to solve crimes after their commission. Investigative activity that preempts crimes, particularly terrorism in a post-9/11 world, has become commonplace. To help ensure a successful prosecution, law enforcement officers need to recognize the risks associated with proactive investigations and anticipate affirmative defenses, such as entrapment, as they initiate undercover operations.”
Charges all seem to relate to possession of four alleged firebombs, made from pouring gasoline into four bottles. Yet witnesses claim that what the police took away as evidence was actually beer-making equipment. The state purports to have recordings that show intent to firebomb some locations. But nearly everyone who knows Jared Chase does not believe that he and his fellow activists planned anything more than to protest and speak their minds in Chicago.
Police can and do lie. It happened to me in 2001, when I was charged with two felonies for simply holding a sign in front of Senator Lieberman’s office in Hartford. Police colluded to write absolute falsehoods in their reports. They stole video that would have proven the untruth of their claims. I was also given an excessive and punitive bail, which in retrospect I recognize as unconstitutional. Law enforcement sometimes does set up and frame victims – whether out of spite, or to quell a movement, or to intimidate by public spectacle. In light of these facts, I ask the reader, what is the definition of terrorism, and could it be applied to police tactics like these?
Jared’s 28th birthday just passed in jail, on June 12. Let us hope he turns 29 free to help us all change the world.