Why No One Really Won In The Trial Of The NATO 3

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

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Assistant State’s Attorney John Blakey dubbed the three men “Mr. Cop on Fire,” “Captain Napalm” and “Professor Molotov” respectively, and of hatching a nearly super-villanous terrorism plot that would have included attacks on police stations, President Barack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters, Chase Tower and burning police officers in the streets.

The trial was the first time the Illinois State’s Attorney’s office prosecuted a case under a 12 year old terrorism law passed just after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Prosecutors argued the three men came to Chicago “ready for war” and presented the jury with inflammatory and incendiary statements the trio made recorded by undercover police, as well as four beer bottles filled partially with gasoline and a collection of various weapons including a bow and arrow, a throwing star, a slingshot and a homemade “shield” emblazoned with the words “austerity ain’t gonna happen.”

If one were to believe Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez Betterly, Chase and Church—who have spent nearly two years in Cook County Jail awaiting trial with $1.5 million bonds—were “cold, calculating terrorists.” Even Judge Thaddeus Wilson seemed to believe the rhetoric (at least in part) when he declined a move by the defense for a direct acquittal. Wilson repeated a line allegedly said by Church to the undercover officers that was not recorded: “Chicago will never be the same,” adding “the court has that as a backdrop for all this. Chicago will never be the same.”

But, were “Mr. Cop on Fire,” “Captain Napalm” and “Professor Molotov” hardened “violent anarchists” preparing a terrorist plot of chaos and destruction worthy of Cobra Commander, or were they a trio of loud mouthed, outspoken kids who spat a lot of tough violent sounding rhetoric after getting drunk and high when prompted by police? The defense showed—and the jury at least partly agreed—on the latter.

The prosecution’s case relied heavily on testimony about recordings made by two undercover police officers, Nadia Chikko and Mehmet Uygun, also known as “Gloves” and “Mo.” Both Uygun and Chikko, aided by intelligence units within the Chicago Police Department, spent months working undercover in Chicago’s activist community attempting to build relationships and trust with local organizers. Testimony from Chikko and Uygun revealed that police had spent plenty of time prior to the summit searching the city for “anarchists.” Chikko attended a punk show in Pilsen in March 2012 and spent some time chatting up a local young man, Ian Wise, because of a tattoo he had of Emiliano Zapata. After Wise expressed his distrust of police to Chikko, she took special note, saying “it could be something to look into.” Police took down license plate information from cars at more than one punk rock show. When asked on the stand about this, Uygun said “we are the police, sir. We run plates sometimes.”

Chikko and several other police officers spent time at Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park to see “if there was any criminal activity being talked about, discussed or planned.” According to reporter Kevin Gosztola from Firedoglake, police trolled Division Street looking for anarchists and graffiti related to anarchism. Uygun once even spent several hours handcuffed to an organizer of one of the protests held at the Woodlawn Mental Health clinic, when local activists attempted to fight its closure. Many of these things happened before Church, Chase and Betterly even set foot in Chicago. After the pair of undercover cops set their sights on the three, the recordings revealed “Mo” and “Gloves” spent more time talking about Molotovs than the three combined. In one recording, Uygun says “Dude, we got Molotovs — that’s not whack” with Chikko later chiming in “you guys got anything? Should we make some? You got bottles?”

It seems that no one even brought the idea up before May 16, the day the three were arrested during the raid on their Bridgeport apartment. As to the cache of weapons and other fantastical ideas about plotting to bring Chicago to its knees with a coordinated series of attacks, the prosecution could produce no evidence the NATO 3 planned on bringing the legally owned items to any of the demonstrations or evidence the trio attempted to recruit anyone.

In fact, the three were mostly too drunk or stoned to do anything more than talk big in front of undercover police all too eager to egg them on. The Tribune reported that in one recording, Church apologized for not making coherent plans because he was “fucking spaced out.” Uygun told him that he and Chase needed to “come up with something before you hit the bowl.” In another instance, then underage Church was too drunk to drive, so Chikko had to take the wheel. One night, Church and Chase skipped a protest at Woodlawn to drink and wait for a weed dealer to stop by the apartment in Bridgeport. Chase’s attorney, Thomas Durkin, quipped “The revolution had to take a bit of a hiatus that night.”

Much of the way the trial played out was something of a tragic comedy. If three young men hadn’t spent the past two years in jail and weren’t looking at spending another thirty years behind bars, it might be. Even after all of the testimony revealing much of the actions the three discussed wouldn’t have become more than words without the help of police, Anita Alvarez not only acted as if the arson charges weren’t enough, but had the three not been arrested prior to the NATO summit, Chicago would’ve been victimized by a brutal terrorist attack. In a press conference with reporters after the verdict was read, Alvarez said: “Have we forgotten about Boston here? Have we forgotten about homemade bombs in backpacks? We were able to stop people from being hurt, and I would do it again.” She even asked an Associated Press reporter if he would “like a molotov thrown at him,” when asked if the verdict meant defeat.

Read the full post at Chicagoist.

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  • Anarchy Pony

    Betterly kinda looks like me on a bad day.

    • echar

      You sure that’s a good thing? It seems pretty clear that they are making examples out of these jokers. One thing I learned real well, the way you look can affect you.

      • Anarchy Pony

        That’s why I wasted the time to add “on a bad day”.

        • echar

          Sorry I blew up!

      • Gjallarbru

        If you look like a duck, they’ll make you a duck. Is that it? ;)

        • echar

          A leather biker jacket will attract the wrong kind of attention, same with a mowhawk and trench coat. Lessons I have learned.

          • Gjallarbru

            I understand well, that is why even though I’m a pretty big guy, I try to meld with the crowd. Such ways have allowed me greater freedoms than with a more “original” look. Otherwise, I would really like to wear medieval armor, like chainmail. It’s great exercize, and I like the weight on my shoulders, but that would attract way too much attention.

            Which reminds me a story where my brother met two hitmen from a local motorcycle gang by way of a friend of his. My brother told me they seemed like the cleanest, most common kind of guys. They were even wearing suits. Can’t say that applies to the stooges in the story.

          • echar

            I’ve tried on chainmail before. It was tough raising it above my head. Wearing it, I felt like a badass. My carhartt jacket feels like armor, it’s kevlar reinforced.

            In my experience, keep distance from bikers.

          • Gjallarbru

            Bikers pay well if you’re a criminal lawyer, which was the guy my brother knew. Of course, he was himself as corrupt as could be.

          • American Cannibal

            Yeah. Bikers are thugs.

          • echar

            Some of them can be. Ruthless criminals is more applicable though.

          • American Cannibal

            Das Racist

          • echar

            Is it?

          • American Cannibal

            See, you don’t even know how racist you are! That’s the problem with you people.

          • echar

            Oh, I see the confusion. I am not human. You’re all barely evolved to me. Jokester!

          • American Cannibal

            Yuk-yuk-yuk!! I’m a clown.

          • echar

            Pierrot the clown?

          • American Cannibal

            IT”S BOZO THE CLOWN!!

            Jesus. Christ.

          • echar

            Woah… woah… Slow your roll! Don’t shoot the messenger.

          • American Cannibal

            I’m pantomiming a middle finger right now.

          • echar

            Is that not the essence of this character that you play, anyhow?

          • American Cannibal

            u way off

          • echar

            Is he dead or does he live? Honestly I just wanted say Pierrot the clown. No offense intended, unless of course for comedic intentions. In that case FUUUUUUU!

            Also there’s nothing wrong with mimes, imo. Jodorowski famously got his beginning as one. The sad clown (Pierrot) can convey as much as the plucky physical can.

            also.. .behold this fantastic song

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUWbMRl_GHg

          • Calypso_1

            The only wrong kind of attention I’ve had with leather was walking down the street past a gay bar.

          • echar

            I was harrassed by pigs.

          • American Cannibal

            You got to pet the pigs, or they get cranky. You can’t keep them in the pen all day long either. Let them walk around in the afternoon before you turn them in for the night. A farmer gave me that tip.

          • echar

            Farmers, aka rednecks are full of all sorts of great wisdom.

          • misinformation

            Redneck has an interesting etymology. Like many words, it appears that it may have been co-opted. Rednecks in Scotland were rebelling against tyranny. That, I can get on board with…and I’m a farmer.

            Historical Scottish Covenanter usage

            In Scotland in the 1640s, the Covenanters
            rejected rule by bishops, often signing manifestos using their own blood. Some wore red cloth around their neck to signify their position, and were called rednecks by the Scottish ruling class to denote that they were the rebels in what came to be known as The Bishop’s War that preceded the rise of Cromwell. Eventually, the term began to mean simply “Presbyterian”, especially in communities along the Scottish border. Because of the large number of Scottish immigrants in the pre-revolutionary American South, some historians have suggested that this may be the origin of the term in the United States.

          • echar

            I didn’t know that. Thank you. For the records, the many of the farmers I knew were some of the hardest working and down to earth people I have ever had the honor to meet.

          • misinformation

            For the record, I wasn’t offended or anything and I’ve never considered myself a redneck, nor would my background indicate such. I just learned the etymology recently and thought it was interesting to see how things morph over time.

          • American Cannibal

            Wrong kind of attention: Did they ignore you, or cat-call?

          • Calypso_1

            I was assaulted.

          • American Cannibal

            For wearing leather pants? That’s strange. Now my joke is ruineded. Please explain.

          • Calypso_1

            abducted, drugged & assaulted in a variety of manners.

          • American Cannibal

            Right off the street!? What city/country was this? Saudi?

          • Calypso_1

            yep, I was very drunk.

          • American Cannibal

            Oh. So you had it coming. Ladies: Take note.

          • Calypso_1

            Don’t forget I was dressed for it. They said I was a leather boy.

          • echar

            Are you from London?

          • Calypso_1

            no

          • American Cannibal

            Are you a bottom?

          • Calypso_1

            i am hetero.

          • American Cannibal

            Are you also a biker?

          • Calypso_1

            not in the affiliative sense. I can ride and have owned bikes. More of a rocker, leather jacket is pretty standard. Though I’ve been in in plenty of scraps and prefer something between me and sharp things.

          • American Cannibal

            How did this end? Silence? Arrests? Or did you get all Death Wish on ‘em?

          • Calypso_1

            waking in a place I didn’t know with nobody there.
            Completely disassociated, near amnesia with only flashes of memory due to my own alcohol consumption & ketamine I was injected with.
            Crisis center, law enforcement, hospital.
            I don’t know who they were. The evidence was insufficient and no one was caught. Used the experience to grow and got over it.

          • American Cannibal

            And you lived to share the tale. Hot Damn! You got lucky, in a way, that they didn’t murder you. I’ve been in a couple close calls, thankfully not rapey close-calls, but definitely would have ended badly for me if I was more out of it. Of course, I’m a coke man, so that helped keep me sharp, agile.

          • Calypso_1

            The cops thought so too. They said this stuff happens more than gets reported and the individuals obviously were not first timers. Appreciation that I wasn’t killed didn’t set in till some time later. I’ve been in a number of deadly situations & trust me it is way different when the fight aspect never gets activated. All I had was flight when I woke – it was primal and controlled every thing.

          • American Cannibal

            Near death + flight = PURE TERROR

            Got PTSD?

          • Calypso_1

            No. I’ve had mild PTSD from extreme high-stress operating environments.

            For me though that was not from terror but a combination of too much fatigue and environmental stressors resulting in the symptoms. I found Near death + Fight = F’nA. For some that would be terror. If you were good at flight and that is what saved your ass than it could be exhilarating.

          • echar

            If you don’t mind answering. What was it that assisted you in getting over it?

          • Calypso_1

            I’ve been broken and put back together too many times. All along the way I’ve acquired the skills to work through things. It was almost frightening how easy it was (time of recovery, not intensity). I can’t image being someone who went through this and it brought them to some existential crisis, that combined with the event trauma would be devastating. I didn’t have any ‘why me?’.
            The most untenable place for me was being in such a disassociated state of consciousness from the event that made areas of memory unavailable but the emotional impact could come unexpectedly from nowhere. You just have to accept that and be prepared for it.
            There are things you don’t need to integrate, you just let go. There is no need to give the event or perpetrators anymore power over you than they had in the moment. For me, since there was no way to defend myself at the time, my only defense was in how well I recovered.

          • echar

            Thank you.

          • echar

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFvpq5RRQk8

            I can’t tell if you are being serious. If so that’s awful and I apologize if I trivialized this event.

          • Calypso_1

            am serious. no apologies necessary.

          • echar

            Ack! I am so sorry.

          • Jin The Ninja

            apologise for the previous upvote. i interpreted your comment as containing your trademark intellectual dry wit. i am sorry you experienced something so heinous.

          • American Cannibal

            What the hell you apologizing to him for? I’m the one who lost out on points. Jeez.

          • Calypso_1

            I appreciate the consideration. There was some humor intended and I would not have thrown it out there if I wasn’t accepting of further comment and self disclosure. At some point even the worst of experiences may be worthy of the application of humor. It has however made me quite aware of the underlying social ills and callousness of humor related to sexual violence that is so readily displayed in everyday language.

          • American Cannibal

            I retroactively apologize too. I had no idea where that was going, so I had to keep my option open. You know how it is these days.

          • Calypso_1

            No worries.

          • American Cannibal

            I dedicate this Paul McCartney song to you.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2E7r7vlJ_tU&list=PL5E13AF0E5205D540

          • echar
          • American Cannibal

            I love you.

          • echar

            God damn these electric sex pants!

        • echar

          Another way I’ve heard it put:

          If you want to get treated like a clown, dress like one.

      • Rhoid Rager

        but being mouthy is what got them in trouble, not necessarily their looks. never mouth off in front of people you don’t know is the bigger lesson here; but realizing that just comes with age. they were young and stupid and easy to throw under the bus.

        But in the end, they got ratted out by the people they thought were their friends–Mo and Gloves. Fucking pigs can break the law, entrap and even fuck people to get ‘their’ man. It’s disgusting. The ponzi scheme state system has hypnotized so many to do terrible things.

        • echar

          That’s true. I thought of this later, and I am not just making that up. Reading this created flashbacks to my youth. Thank you RR.

          I agree about pigs. They expect you to tell the truth, but can and will decieve to get their collar. They’ll tell you something like “everything we have points at you. So fess up or give us a name.” Fuckers want you to do their job for them. Even though you may be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

          • emperorreagan

            You almost need to give kids a pamphlet:

            Never talk to police. If they have cause to arrest you, they will. Anything else you say will just be used or twisted against you – don’t wait for the Miranda crap like on TV to take the opportunity to clam up.

            Only do one illegal thing at a time. For example, if you are holding in a neighborhood where drug activity is monitored and jay walk, a cop may stop you for jay walking with the intent/expectation that they’re going to bust you for something bigger.

            Don’t document anything you do that could be construed as illegal or used against you – don’t take pictures of your stash, don’t take pictures with guns, don’t blog/email/write about illegal activity…

            Anyone who tries to talk you into doing something for them that they can readily do themselves is an asshole; if the thing they’re trying to talk you into is illegal, they’re probably a cop.

            Etc…

          • echar

            Was it R.A.W. that said, the ones that look most like the part are usually the narcs?

          • emperorreagan

            Seems like something he said, but I’m never good at remembering where a particular quote comes from.

          • aaroncynic

            That’s the thing here – these guys were young – one of ‘em just 20 years old at the time. While they may have been part of some Occupy encampments before they came to Chicago, my bet is they had limited experience in doing a lot of activism. Plus, even more seasoned folks tend to shoot their mouths off when they’re younger and feeling more comfortable (be it due to someone gaining their trust, being drunk/stoned or both). This was basically a textbook op from law enforcement – find the out of towners who are younger and more impressionable, get ‘em to say shoot their mouths off, commit to doing something stupid, then make arrests.

    • Rhoid Rager

      You got blond dreds? I’m growing out my hair–have been since I’ve come to japan. Got it in a pony tail right now. is that why you took the nick a’ pony?

      • Anarchy Pony

        No but I do have a bitchin goatee and am unfortunately pale.

        • Jin The Ninja

          #whitepeopleproblems?

          true talk, i also maintain facial hair. i haven’t been baby faced since at least ’05.

          • Anarchy Pony

            Pretty much.

          • Jin The Ninja

            you know i jest. because i am olivine, i tend towards a genuinely ash coloured pallor in the winter. i’d take pale any day.

          • Rhoid Rager

            sunburns suck, tho. my face turns red really easily–which made getting embarrassed in school that much worse. now i don’t give a shit, but my kids always ask me why my head and neck are so red.
            I’ve got a goatee and long blond hair–past my shoulders now and still going. My mustache is getting tapered on the ends, so it’s kind of a French The Dude look.

          • American Cannibal

            Like Blond Dali?

          • Rhoid Rager

            Exactly. But moor unkempt.

  • BuzzCoastin

    without homeland help
    it would difficult to be a terrorist

    they never publish the iQz of those entrapped
    my bet is
    there’s not an Einstein in the bunch

  • sonicbphuct

    This is just sad. I have a hard time fathoming how the ChiTown DA, the pigs, the judge, the whole cabal of stupidity – how they could at any point ever believe that what the pigs made up was *actual* truth.

    “the backdrop of this case: chicago will never be the same” … I suppose they’ve never said they would kill anyone if anyone did X or Y or whatever. I can only come up with some kind of “they-are-a-different-species” kind of argument because I really, truly can not comprehend how this managed to get so far with seemingly serious people at the helm.

    • Rhoid Rager

      I find myself coming back to that argument all the time. How the hell could it have gotten this bad. The whole Gnostic narrative about the archons certainly seems to ring true in a lot of situations I come across.

      • echar

        It’s simple, the authorities got a hard-on for anarchists. Hence my comment about appearance. Which was related to white guy dreads and goatees.

        • Rhoid Rager

          i was speaking more generally, tho. ala They Live.

          • echar

            I don’t understand, but that’s ok. I am aware of the archons within gnostic allegory. Perhaps I am missing something.

          • Jin The Ninja

            if you haven’t seen ‘they live’ it is a must watch.
            john carpenter, he’s like all prophetic and magical and shit.

          • American Cannibal

            Would you mind starting another fight with someone, since you’re all out of gum? I’m not done laughing for the day. I need more giggles.

            Thanks

          • echar

            I own it. Is it a reference to the movie? It’s been years since I’ve watched.

  • davakins

    Are these the guys that were busted with home brewing equipment?

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