Agence France-Presse

NATO protesters targeted Obama, Emanuel in Chicago

Chicago mounted police officers watch over a protest taking place in the Federal Building Plaza in Chicago, Illinois. Wednesday marked the third straight day of protests as Chicago prepares to host the NATO Summit on Sunday and Monday.
Credit: Scott Olson

Three protesters at the NATO summit in Chicago have been charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, police said today.

They are accused of plotting to make Molotov cocktails, the Chicago Tribune reported. They were also charged with providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device.

Prosecutors said today they planned attacks on President Barack Obama's headquarters as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home, Agence France-Presse reported.

"The individuals we charged in this investigation are not peaceful protesters," state attorney Anita Alvarez said, according to AFP. "They are domestic terrorists."

Bail is $1.5 million, and the trio are to appear in court on May 22, Reuters reported.

Court documents released today said the men are "self-described anarchists."

Prosecutors said police found a mortar, knives and a hunting bow during the raid.

The charges proceeded after police learned the men wanted to attack police stations and cars in Chicago, site of a two-day NATO summit that starts on Sunday, according to Reuters.

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A police spokesman identified the men as Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, NH., and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla.

They were among nine people arrested in a raid on an apartment in the Bridgeport area of Chicago on Wednesday night, after what the Tribune said was a month-long police investigation into a group suspected of making Molotov cocktails.

The six others have been released without charge, according to the Associated Press.

The protesters maintain that the only equipment found in the apartment was for brewing their own beer, NBC Chicago said.

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The National Lawyers Guild, which is representing the three defendants, said the police had failed to produce any evidence of criminal intent or wrongdoing.

"It's outrageous for the city to apply terrorism charges when it's the police who have been terrorizing activists and threatening their right to protest," said attorney Sarah Gelsomino. The three men had been stopped and questioned on the street by police a few days prior to their arrest "for no apparent reason," the Guild's statement said.

Police in Chicago have described NATO protests so far as "very peaceful." Just one arrest was reported during rallies yesterday.

The NATO summit begins on Sunday.

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