Anarchism on Trial: An Update on the NATO 3 Case


The NATO 3, Brent Betterly, Jared Chase, and Brian Jacob Church, are three political prisoners still at Cook County Jail awaiting trial. They have been imprisoned since the 2012 NATO Summit protests took place in Chicago.

On December 2nd, the defense argued that the over-use of the word terrorism and the labeling of the NATO 3 as supposed terrorists would strongly influence the jury to view these political prisoners as dangerous criminals without any clear factual basis. The prosecutors have already repeatedly used the term to automatically and prejudicially criminalize the defendants both in court filings and in the press.

Additionally, this trial date featured a lengthy argument over the state’s continued reference to the defendant’s Anarchist politics and their alleged participation in the so-called, “Black Bloc Group.” Defense attorney Michael Deutsche implored judge Thaddeus Wilson to prevent the prosecution from putting the politics of the defendants on trial, to distract from the inadequacy of their case and the gross police brutality and surveillance that took place during the NATO Summit protests. The defense cited the multitude of Anarchist perspectives, calling into question the very idea that there is one essentialist definition of, “Anarchism,” that could be attached to the defendant’s beliefs or that this definition of Anarchism implied the use of violence as a tactic. In regards to references to the Black Bloc, Deutsche rejected the very idea that Black Bloc is anything but the practice of wearing black in a public demonstration and couldn’t possibly demonstrate any particular organizational affiliation. Attorney Molly Armour compared the prosecution of the 3 to the Red Scares of the 1920s and 50s, forcing the defense to argue the legitimacy of their beliefs rather than the factual reality of a (non) existent plot.

The next court date is December 19th at 2pm in courtroom 303 at the Chicago criminal court house. The trial itself is set to start on January 13th at the same location. As the trial looms, these political prisoners need our support as much as possible. They have weathered through a year and a half at cook county jail to get their day in court and put the state on trial for attempting to marginalize protests against militarism, police violence, and economic inequality. Whatever personal or financial supports you can provide through donations, letter writing, and attendance at court dates and the trial are all crucial to the struggle against the political repression of the NATO 3.

For a full summary of their last court date, see the article on @news.

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