We are calling on comrades around the world to help raise awareness of the NATO 5 cases and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests. Please read the call-out below and start planning your action or event today!
On May 16, 2012, Chicago cops raided an apartment in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago in an all-too-common attempt to scare people away from the imminent protests against the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit. With guns drawn, the cops arrested 11 people in or around the apartment and quickly disappeared them into the bowels of the extensive network of detention facilities in Cook County, Illinois.
After a few days, a few things started becoming clear: 2 of the arrested “activists” were actually undercover Chicago cops who had targeted the real activists for arrest, 6 of them were illegally held and released at the last possible minute before court action could be taken to force their release, and 3 had been charged with trumped-up, politically motivated terrorism charges. These three—Brent Betterly, Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase—are now known as the NATO 3. They were ultimately charged with 11 felony counts, including material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and creating Molotov cocktails. They face up to 40 years in prison and are expected to go to trial in September. Their lawyers recently filed a motion to dismiss the terrorism charges for being unconstitutional.
Two other Chicago-area activists—Mark Neiweem and Sebastian Senakiewicz—were also preemptively arrested. Mark was arrested in a spectacular snatch-and-grab as he was leaving a restaurant. He was charged with soliciting materials for an explosive device and is facing up to 30 years in prison; his trial date has not yet been set. Sebastian was arrested in another spectacular house raid and charged with falsely making a terrorist threat for allegedly claiming that he had explosive materials and wanted to use them during the convention. Facing 15 years in prison followed by deportation to his native Poland after serving his sentence, he took a non-cooperating plea deal last November. He was sentenced to 4 years with a recommendation of 4 months in boot camp. He is expected to begin his immigration proceedings immediately after completing his sentence.
As the one-year anniversary of these preemptive, politically motivated arrests draws near, we are calling for a week of solidarity actions and fundraisers for the NATO 5. All five defendants have been incarcerated since their arrests last May. Being held hostage in jail is extremely expensive for prisoners, as they are forced to purchase all their hygiene products, writing supplies, additional food to supplement the starvation portions given to them each day, and other basic necessities from the jail’s commissary at exorbitant prices. The legal defense costs for the defendants is also mounting, as their lawyers are working hard to help them win their freedom and there is a ton of evidence to sift through and other preparations to make.
This May, stand in solidarity with the NATO 5! Organize a house party, bake sale, silent auction, cabaret, raffle, rally, noise demo, art auction, street theater performance, concert…whatever you and your friends want! Send us an email at nato5solidarity(A)gmail.com to let us know what you have planned and then send us photos afterwards! You can also write the defendants to let them know what you have planned (https://nato5support.wordpress.com/contact/).
The NATO 5 cases are linked by a few common threads. People around the world have come together to protest NATO’s role in worldwide military expenditures and operations, the organization’s penchant for wantonly killing civilians for the benefit of its member nations—particularly the United States—and its disregard for human rights. Additionally, undercover Chicago police officers targeted and entrapped the activists because of their politics, which is part of a broader pattern of state repression against political activists, in which charging activists as terrorists is one of many strategies being used to silence dissent and dismantle activist communities. Other recent cases in which activists have been targeted include the Cleveland 4 (http://www.cleveland4solidarity.org/), the Green Scare cases (http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/), and the Pacific Northwest Grand Jury resisters (http://nopoliticalrepression.wordpress.com/).
Many of these prisoners need your financial support and solidarity as well. The Pacific Northwest Grand Jury resisters are calling for a week of solidarity actions from April 24–May 1 (http://saynothing.noblogs.org/call-for-coordinated-week-of-solidarity-actions/) and the Tinley Park 5 are calling for a day of solidarity on May 19 (http://www.anarchistnews.org/content/one-year-anniversary-arrest-tp5). And don’t forget about June 11th, the International Day of Solidarity with long-term anarchist prisoners Eric McDavid and Marie Mason (http://june11.org/).
Make this spring and summer a time of solidarity for the NATO 5 and all targets of state repression!