Three men who came to Chicago for the NATO Summit were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and possession of an explosive Saturday.
The men were identified as 20-year-old Brian Church, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 24-year-old Jarred Chase of Keene, New Hampshire and 24-year-old Brent Betterly, of Oakland Park, Fla. At a press conference Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said that the evidence will show the men came to Chicago to hurt people.
“They are domestic terrorists with an anarchist agenda,” Alvarez said at a press conference that was live streamed. “They had intent to harm our police officers.”
McCarthy credited the Chicago Police Department for conducting a thorough investigation and said that all procedures followed were proper. He also said that a search warrant was obtained, contrary to what was originally reported.
“They weren’t going trick or treating,” McCarthy said, “It is clear from the evidence that they were making bombs.”
According to court documents, one of the defendants asked if the others had ever seen a “cop on fire,” and then allegedly suggested throwing a Molotov cocktail into a district police station. The documents also indicated that other possible targets included the campaign headquarters of President Barack Obama and the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Sarah Gelsomino, their defense attorney, said that three undercover police officers, nicknamed Nadia, Moe and Gluss, allegedly brought the materials to incite the individuals into using them. The defense also said that the men were allegedly held for over 30 hours, shackled on hands and feet for most of that time. They also said the defendants were allegedly not informed of what they were being charged with by police officers.
The defense attorney said the materials acquired by police as evidence were items used for brewing homemade beer.
“This could be a clear case of entrapment, or worse, if these facts are proven,” she said.
Michael Deutsche, an assistant defense attorney from the National Lawyers Guild, said that his clients denied being a part of any anarchist agenda or Black Bloc group. He also said that the bail was set at $1.5 million to ensure these men are not bailed out.
“These men had no intention to commit a violent act. One is even a student to become an emergency medical technician,” he said.
The men were arrested during a Wednesday raid of a Bridgeport apartment building. Nine people were arrested, but six were released, police said.
Steven Ramirez, a member of the Occupy group from Portland, Oregon, came to the court house to protest what he claimed is a scare tactic by police to intimidate protesters.
“Clearly the police force is concerned with the protests,” he said, “They are using these charges to scare and incite fear into activists.”
The next court hearing will be Tuesday.