The so-called ‘NATO 3’ were convicted today of mob action, but not of terrorism. The verdict triggered an explosive war of words between the defense lawyers and prosecutors
This case raises a lot of questions, about how we define terrorism and whether or not the accused were encouraged by undercover police. They’re convicted of possessing an incendiary device to commit arson- which on its own is serious– a super-class one felony, carrying up to 30 years in prison.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez spoke after the verdict, “Have we forgotten about Boston here? Have we forgotten about homemade bombs in backpacks?”
Accused by the NATO 3’s defense team of overcharging this case, Alvarez lashed-out, defending her department’s handling of the first case the county has ever brought under the state’s terrorism law.
“And you know what? I would bring these charges again because you know what we did? We saved people from being hurt,” she said.
The charges stem from the May 2012 NATO Summit, the question facing the jury—did these three men; 25-year-old Brent Betterly, 29-year-old Jared Chase and 22-year-old Brian Church, come to the city to throw firebombs and create anarchy—or were they simple-minded protesters who simply ran off at the mouth in front of undercover police?
In the end, they were found guilty not of terrorism but of mob action and possessing an incendiary device to commit arson.
The defense trumpets that as a huge victory. Proof, they say, that this entire case was designed to make Mayor Emanuel look good for spending millions securing the NATO Summit.
Defense Lawyer Tom Durkin said “This was a political prosecution– don’t kid yourself. It was a political prosecution in every sense of the word.”
Anita Alvarez said “Let me ask you- what do you think they were going to do with these devices? And I think it is atrocious that the defense was making fun of Molotov cocktails.”
After the verdict, reporters gathered in a room set aside for interviews with jurors. Not one of the seven men and five women wanted to talk to the media about their verdict.
The NATO 3 will be sentenced February 28th.