NATO 3 sentenced to prison

From comrades from NATO 3 Support:

Today in the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, the NATO 3 were sentenced to between 5 and 8 years in prison. The prosecutors had argued that they should receive 14 years and serve their sentences consecutively, whereas the defense attorneys had obviously argued that they should receive light sentences, if not simply being sentenced to time served. Brian Jacob Church was sentenced to 5 years, Brent Betterly to 6 years, and Jared Chase to 8 years. They will all serve this time at 50% of the sentenced time (e.g., 6 year sentence equals 3 years served) and will receive credit for the two years they have served pending trial. Upon release, they will each have two years of supervised release as well.

Supporters packed the courtroom for the NATO 3 today despite the draconian restrictions placed on public attendance by the judge. While the prosecutors had plenty of cops lined up to smear the defendants on the stand during the sentencing hearing, their side of the courtroom was notably empty. Not even Anita Alvarez, the head attorney who has been so vocal about the defendants being terrorists, was around today. After the jury issued its verdict, Alvarez claimed in an interview that the prosecutors had not lost the case even though all of their terrorist claims had been rejected. She melodramatically asked if the reporters had forgotten about the Boston Marathon bombing. She even asked one reporter if he would like a Molotov cocktail thrown at him.

Predictably, the prosecutors continued this ludicrous line of reasoning by repeatedly comparing the NATO 3 to the Boston Marathon bombers—with the only difference being that undercover cops had found and stopped them before they did what the bombers had done. This comparison is, of course, absurd and offensive. The defense objected to this comparison but was, predictably, overruled. Also predictably, the judge promoted this twisted perspective in his explanation of his sentencing.

If anything, the court’s blatant, unabashed explanation of this worldview shows all the more clearly how the NATO 3 were set up from the beginning. The undercovers entrapped them so that the case would exactly fit the prosecution’s designs, and the judge was more than happy to push this case along according to the desired script. This is no less of a conspiracy than what the defendants were charged with, albeit more nefarious because it is sanctioned by the spectacle of “justice” called the criminal legal system and enforced by the militarized policing apparatus that aids in the systemic oppression of the masses for the benefit of the elite. With this in mind, solidarity with the NATO 3 must necessarily include continuing to struggle against the economic and political forces that brought them to Chicago in the first place.

As the NATO 3 return to their cells to wait out the next few days before they are transferred to state prison, most of us will return to our homes and our lives. But we must not forget them or our other comrades behind bars. Stay tuned for updated addresses for the 3 so we can flood them with letters, postcards and books as soon as they are transferred. They have hard time yet to serve and we need to make sure they know that they are not alone.

In the near future, we will be sending out more detailed notes from today and updating our zine. In the meantime, check out our storify pages of tweets from the proceedings today.

* Post-trial motion hearing:
https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-post-trial-motions
* State’s witnesses at sentencing hearing:
https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentencing-hearing-state-witnesses
* Defense witness at sentencing hearing:
https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentencing-hearing-defense-witness
* Aggravation and mitigation arguments:
https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentencing-aggravation-and-mitigation-argum
* Statements by Jacob and Brent prior to sentencing:
https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentencing-defendant-statements
* The sentences: https://storify.com/FreeNATO3/nato-3-sentences

The defendants will all need support while in prison, so please donate
to their support fund today! https://freethenato3.wordpress.com/donate/

NATO 3 Not Guilty of Terrorism! Convicted of Possession of Incendiary Device Charges and Facing 30 Years

On Friday, February 7, 2014, the jury in the NATO 3 trial returned its
verdicts against Brent Betterly, Jared Chase, and Brian Jacob Church.
These three had been held in Cook County Jail in Chicago since they were
arrested on May 16, 2012. They faced trumped up, politically motivated
terrorism, conspiracy, and arson charges because of their perceived
politics and political activities (mostly through the Occupy movement).

The cops and prosecutors had demonized them from the beginning as
violent anarchists and domestic terrorists who needed to be locked away
for decades because of their nefarious intents to terrorize the city of
Chicago. We knew all along that they had been targeted as part of a
broad campaign of state repression against activists, particularly
anarchists. We knew all along that they had been singled out to send a
message to us all that any dissent will be severely punished, that any
step outside of the bounds of the mainstream power structures will be
met with fierce consequences.

The jury did not buy the state’s lies about our comrades being
terrorists. They acquitted the NATO 3 of all the terrorism charges:
conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism,
possession of an incendiary device with the intent to commit terrorism,
possession of an incendiary device with the knowledge that someone else
intended to commit terrorism. They also acquitted them of the
solicitation to commit arson charge.

Yet the jury played its role in the criminal legal system by finding
them all guilty of possession of an incendiary device with the intent to
commit arson and possession of an incendiary device with the knowledge
that another intended to commit arson. They also found them all guilty
of mob action, a lower-level crime that was offered to the jury as an
alternative to the conspiracy to commit terrorism and material support
for terrorism charges. The possession charges carry a maximum sentence
of 30 years in prison.

We can celebrate the victory over the state’s worst lies and their
defeat on their own battlefield, but we must not forget that these three
individuals are still being made to pay the price for our resistance. We
do not know how long they will continue to be held captive by our
enemies, but we do know that we will continue to stand in solidarity
with them and fight for their freedom until each of them walk out of the
prison gate.

Free the NATO 3!
Free all political prisoners and prisoners of war!
Destroy all prisons!
Smash the state!

The NATO 3 will be sentenced on Friday, February 28 at 2pm. We will send
word in the near future about ways you can show your solidarity for
them, so stay tuned. In the meantime, we are asking for donations for
their support needs in case they will be kept from us for many years to
come. https://www.wepay.com/donations/freethenato3. They also need to
hear from comrades around the world that they are not alone!

Brent Betterly
#2012-0519001
PO Box 089002
Chicago, IL 60608

Brian Church
#2012-0519002
PO Box 089002
Chicago, IL 60608

Jared Chase
#2012-0519003
PO Box 089002
Chicago, IL 60608