Attorneys representing five men charged with attempting to build bombs or make terrorist threats during the NATO summit in Chicago allege their clients were set up by undercover police officers.
Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, N.H.; and, Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla. were arrested before the NATO summit began for conspiracy to commit terrorism. Police say the trio possessed either Molotov cocktails or the materials necessary to make them.
But defense lawyers Kris Hermes and Sarah Gelsomino of the National Lawyers Guild say Church, Chase and Betterly, and two Chicago men facing similar charges in an unrelated incident, are victims of entrapment that were set up by two undercover police officers who infiltrated activist groups in the weeks leading up to the global summit.
This week, Gelsomino and Hermes began circulating a photo of a man who identified himself to many protesters and Occupy participants as "Moe," an anarchist protester who traveled to Chicago with his cousin, known as "Gloves." According to Fox Chicago, the attorneys believe Moe and Gloves were undercover police officers who framed or goaded the five suspects and assisted in their arrest.
The three visiting demonstrators were taken into custody Wednesday after a raid in Bridgeport, where police confirmed that spies were embedded to help secure a warrant and arrests, according to ABC Chicago. They say weapons, equipment to make Molotov cocktails and plans for pipe bombs were found during the raid. Defense attorneys say the equipment was for brewing beer and question the warrant's legitimacy.
Hermes told the Associated Press that the arrests were part of a successful "effort to frighten people and to diminish the size of the demonstrations," pointing out that "even if charges are dropped or reduced later, [the police] will have succeeded in spreading fear and intimidation."
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and his predecessor Jody Weis, have both come out defending the undercover officers' work and condemning the defense attorneys for undermining the investigation -- and the officers' safety.
"I'm pretty outraged to hear that," McCarthy told Fox Chicago (see video above). "What they're doing is they're putting police officers' lives in jeopardy right now. And I think that's pretty disgusting, quite frankly."
Chase, Church and Betterly appeared before a judge late Tuesday morning to be either indicted or given a preliminary hearing, according to Occupy Chicago. The organization began circulating their own photos of "Moe" and "Gloves" Tuesday in advance of the hearing, including dissemination to various media outlets.
Meanwhile, two more NATO protesters were charged Tuesday with felonies, the Chicago Tribune reports. Christopher French, 21, of Wisconsin was charged with aggravated assault of a police officer in connection to a Sunday incident and Alex Cerajewski, 20, was charged with felony mob action in connection a separate confrontation with police Sunday.
The charges against French and Cerajewski bring the total of NATO protesters charged with felonies to date to six, according to the Tribune.