This article was originally posted over at the Occupied Chicago Tribune.
Yesterday, at the Cook County Courthouse at 26th and California, the state’s attorney indicted Brian Church, Jared Chase, and Brent Betterly. But the prosecution wouldn’t share the indictment with either the defense or the judge.
Defense attorney Michael Deutsch asked for, and was denied, a copy. In response, Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. said, “It seems a little strange, but that’s the way it is.”
The prosecution plans to withhold the indictment until the July 2 arraignment. Church, Chase, and Betterly will continue to live behind bars, on $1.5 million bail each, under the pretext of phantom accusations. Although the prosecution laid out terrorism-related charges in its original proffer at the bond hearing, it has so far produced no evidence whatsoever to support such claims.
The charges against these three activists, like the separate terrorism-related charges brought against Mark Niewann and Sebastian Senakiewicz, seem to be based solely on conversations with undercover police officers (or informants) “Mo” and “Gloves.” Niewann and Sebastian are to be indicted tomorrow. Altogether, these detained activists are known as the “NATO 5,” though they were arrested at three different times.
“The Nato 3 have been locked up with draconian bail for almost a month and the State has refused to provide defense counsel with any evidence in support of their sensationalist politically motivated charges,” said Deutsch. “The refusal to provide even the search warrant or a copy of a returned indictment until July 2 is evidence that in a case which they characterize as a terrorism case the rules are interpreted to favor the prosecution. This is clearly underscored by the presence of the defendants in court in schackles, hands and feet, surrounded by a phalanx of sheriffs.”
Witnesses to the May 16 raid of the Bridgeport apartment building where the defendants were staying told the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) that not only was there no search warrant when the raid began, but four hours later, when police finally produced a warrant, it did not contain a signature from a judge.
Kris Hermes of the National Lawyers Guild said the prosecution’s withholding of the indictment “indicates that they have something to hide. Either the case is weak or they have some other motive, perhaps trying to conceal information about the infiltrators. Who did they work for? Did they provoke or instigate criminal activity?”
Meanwhile, Occupy Chicago’s jail solidarity crew said they were harassed outside the courthouse by police. Cigarette butts thrown on dry grass by passersby had left some patches smoldering. Members of Occupy Chicago snuffed them out and alerted police about the hazard. Police in turn moved the jail solidarity protesters across the street, demanded to see everyone’s ID and arrested one man who had told others he had a previous warrant.
“It seemed like the police were trying to find some way to harass us,” said Occupy Chicago’s Micah Philbrook. ”They decided to use the dry grass smoldering as their excuse, which is ironic since we were the ones who first pointed out the fires to the police, who then called the fire department. It was clearly just a way to run our IDs and pick up anyone with warrants, which unfortunately one of our comrades had. They had no legal reason to ask for our IDs.”