Sunday, May 20, 2012

Activists arrested in Chicago, accused of plotting attacks

Police say the trio manufactured Molotov cocktails for use during the NATO summit. Defense lawyers say the charges are scare tactics to deter protesters

Three activists who traveled to Chicago for a NATO summit were accused Saturday of manufacturing Molotov cocktails in a plot to attack President Obama's campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home and other targets.

But defense lawyers shot back that Chicago police had trumped up the charges to frighten peaceful protesters away, telling a judge it was undercover officers known to the activists as Mo and Gloves who brought the firebombs to an apartment where the men were arrested.

"This is just propaganda to create a climate of fear," Michael Deutsch said. "My clients came to peacefully protest."

Coming on the eve of the summit, the allegations were reminiscent of previous police actions ahead of major political events, when authorities moved quickly to prevent suspected plots but sometimes quietly dropped the charges later.

Prosecutors said the men were self-described anarchists who boasted weeks earlier about the damage they would do in Chicago, including one who declared, "After NATO, the city will never be the same."

At one point, one of the suspects allegedly asked the others if they had ever seen a "cop on fire."

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy dismissed the idea that the arrests were anything more than an effort to stop "an imminent threat."

The men are accused of buying fuel at a gas station for the makeshift bombs, pouring it into beer bottles and cutting up bandannas to serve as fuses.

The suspects are Brian Church, 20, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla.

If convicted on all counts - conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism and possession of explosives - the men could get up to 85 years in prison.

Outside the courtroom, Deutsch said the two undercover police officers or informants were also arrested during the Wednesday raid, and defense attorneys later lost track of the two.

"We believe this is all a setup and entrapment to the highest degree," Deutsch said.

The suspects were each being held on $1.5 million bond.

Six others arrested Wednesday in the raid were released Friday without being charged.

By The Associated Press

Source: The Los Angeles Times

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