NATO 3's Bumbling Miami Background

March 14 was shaping up to be another day of protests and partying at Fort Peace, Occupy Miami's grungy Overtown safe house. More than a dozen members had shaken off their hangovers and emerged to demonstrate against a bank. But before they could gather their handmade signs and head downtown, the place was suddenly overrun with cops.

Two armored vehicles and a dozen police cars squealed up to the front gate. Cops in SWAT gear gripping assault rifles poured out. One wore a bulletproof vest over civilian clothes. He pointed a pistol in the protesters' faces and shouted, "Everybody on the ground!"

Police swarmed the three-story building, ordering occupiers and tenants alike into the courtyard. They zip-cuffed several protesters, including a tall, tattooed 27-year-old named Jared Chase. Then they demanded to know if they had any weapons. There were none.

Two weeks ago, cops again detained Chase on the eve of a major NATO summit in Chicago. This time, however, they're not letting him go. They claim that Chase and an Occupy Fort Lauderdale member named Brian Church made Molotov cocktails for firebombing police stations, banks, and political targets. And they argue that a third man, a dreadlocked Occupy Miami member named Brent Betterly, helped prepare the homemade explosives.

Prosecutors have labeled the young men domestic terrorists. If convicted, they each face up to 85 years in jail. Yet Miamians who know the trio — dubbed the NATO 3 — say they are peaceful activists set up by authorities.

The truth is, though, they were wannabe revolutionaries with big mouths. The Overtown building where they lived for three months is a chaotic, alcohol-infused crash pad for idealistic dropouts and the homeless. No one there likes the cops, but Occupiers spend lazy days boasting about protests and arrest records, not plotting acts of terror.

"We all have our fairy-tale ideas of how revolution is going to go, but people talking shit doesn't mean that they are actually going to go do anything malicious," says Chris Escobar, an Occupy Miami member and Chase and Betterly's friend. "The evidence against them speaks for itself. It's bullshit."

The arrest of the NATO 3 has made headlines nationwide. But lost among the hype is the role Miami played in the protesters' path to Chicago.

Like the Occupy movement as a whole, Fort Peace was born of good intentions but little planning. Last October, Occupy Miami began a 14-week stay at downtown's Stephen P. Clark Government Center. On January 31, when Miami-Dade police finally shut down the tent city, Overtown landlord Rodrigo Duque volunteered his 52-unit housing complex. He tore the doors off empty apartments and dubbed the building "Peace City," baffling rent-paying tenants.

But the 30 or so Occupy Miamians who immediately moved in named the place "Fort Peace." Said one protester: "It would take thousands of cops to get us out of here."

Jared Chase would have been one of Fort Peace's earliest arrivals had he not been locked up. The night of the eviction from Government Center, Chase and other protesters had driven around the camp in a red pickup truck while egging on the crowd. When cops spotted the vehicle nearby, they found Chase and three others sitting in back with a baseball bat, bolt cutters, and a sledgehammer. Police arrested them for loitering but quickly dropped the charges.

It wasn't Chase's first night in jail. The tall, quiet, aspiring rapper first got into trouble as a teenager in his hometown of Keene, New Hampshire. In June 2003, the then-18-year-old was charged with felony reckless conduct after slamming his car into a pedestrian. The accident smashed his windshield, according to the Keene Sentinel. Nine days later, he showed up at a supermarket with a knife and threatened a woman who had witnessed the crash. He didn't follow through.

Chase spent six months in jail for the incident. During the next two years, he violated probation three times for cocaine use, consorting with criminals, and missing curfew, according to the Keene Sentinel. He later moved to Boston, where he worked as a cook at a P.F. Chang's. Then, on October 13, he posted on Facebook that he was headed to an Occupy Boston event.

Soon he migrated to Rhode Island and then down to Washington, D.C. At a demonstration outside the White House on December 19, Chase met Brent Betterly, a 24-year-old from Oakland Park with bright-blond dreadlocks and goatee. The two locked arms with other demonstrators and protested the indefinite military detention of Americans suspected of terrorist activities. "Got arrested at the white house demonstration last nite lol," Chase wrote on his Facebook page. "Any man who would trade even a litle [sic] liberty, for security, deserve neither," he added, paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson.

A few weeks later, Chase and Betterly drove to Miami to join the hundred or so activists camped out at Government Center. After Duque founded Fort Peace, the two occupiers stayed at the crumbling apartment complex for days on end, drinking beer, smoking, and listening to loud music late into the night before crashing on bare mattresses or the graffitied floor.

Betterly, with his good looks and dreadlocks, was a hippie who attended rainbow gatherings. But he also had a criminal record before he joined the Fort Lauderdale Occupy movement. On September 27, he and two friends broke into an Oakland Park high school after a night of swigging tequila. They swam in the pool and played with fire extinguishers, sending one canister into a bus and another through the window of the cafeteria. On October 13, Betterly was charged with burglary. No decision has been rendered yet.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
11 comments
Weaver Jannie
Weaver Jannie

what George replied I'm amazed that anyone able to earn $5349 in one month on the internet. did you see this site httplazycash42.c()m

Suckadick
Suckadick

these people are IDIOTS. i am sorry this whole occupy thing is STUPID.

marvalightbourne
marvalightbourne

these young men were very helpful in the housing demonstration & with OCCUPY FT. LAUDERDALE in our efforts to keep homeowners from being EVICTED by the marshalls.. they are not TERRORISTS !!.. ( a little misguided, young & all.. ) but with a lot of potential.. this is very distrubing for me to read, these SERIOUS CHARGES will send them away for the rest of thier lives, these young men were ALWAYS >> " willing /able" to help the OCCUPY MIAMI CAUSE, whenever I was in thier attendance.. SO SORRY, this OCCUPY MIAMI has falling apart, keeping them in my prayers for release of these FEDERAL CHARGES !!..chairwomen concerned citizens committee, inc. liberty city.

Theshoten
Theshoten

Dear Mike Miller,"The night of the eviction from Government Center, Chase and other protesters had driven around the camp in a red pickup truck while egging on the crowd. "

This quote is incorrect, as this group was waiting to pick people up from the camp in order to move their belongings to the fort.

Chase wrote on his Facebook page. "Any man who would trade even a litle [sic] liberty, for security, deserve neither," he added, paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson.

and this quote is Benjamin Franklin.

you are a sloppy "selective fact" writer... where are all the activists you interviewed that gave you good answers, i dont see them.

Hmm
Hmm

Mike Miller writes these hit pieces because he is obviously incapable of producing substantial journalism. Tell me Mike, are you writing for the Miami New Times because TMZ and all the other gossip rags even found your writing to be too distasteful for their taste?

nanook5
nanook5

"objective journalism," he laughs, "i will jump straight towards indicting people i have already shown disdain for as contributing to terrorist activity, for i am mike miller!"

Bruce Wayne Stanley
Bruce Wayne Stanley

You conveniently forgot to mention the involvement of undercover agents in the arrests. (http://bit.ly/Jx7Vth) And this comes on the heels of questionable FBI tactics such as in the Cleveland bridge bomb plot, where the FBI informant was the one who suggested the plot and provided the fake explosives! (http://bit.ly/J6MELX) Rather than cover that angle, which might risk making the wrong powerful people uncomfortable, it sure must have been a lot easier to scape social media profiles for potentially incriminating quotes, much like the authorities.

In a world where the act of violence by state actors is completely unaccountable, and the sale of weaponized drones is on the rise, it's comforting to know that when anti-terror laws get applied to peaceful protesters, the watchdog media is right there to ask the hard questions.

Bruce Wayne Stanley
Bruce Wayne Stanley

You conveniently forgot to mention the involvement of undercover agents in the arrests. (http://bit.ly/Jx7Vth) And this comes on the heels of questionable FBI tactics such as in the Cleveland bridge bomb plot, where the FBI informant was the one who suggested the plot and provided the fake explosives! (http://bit.ly/J6MELX) Rather than cover that angle, which might risk making the wrong powerful people uncomfortable, it sure must have been a lot easier to scape social media profiles for potentially incriminating quotes, much like the authorities.

In a world where the act of violence by state actors is completely unaccountable, and the sale of weaponized drones is on the rise, it's comforting to know that when anti-terror laws get applied to peaceful protesters, the watchdog media is right there to ask the hard questions.

Zr0ks
Zr0ks

Obviously this "writer", isn't much of one. Michael E. Miller, your a dumb ass. If you had ANYTHING of substance to write about.. you obviously would have had something better to write about than "Fort peace". But then again, your the troll of the Miami New Times. If am not mistaken, this article seems very similar to the other hit piece you wrote about fort peace not so long ago.. Is it that protesting and practicing the freedom of speech makes your butthole hurt? Or you really have NOTHING BETTER to write about?

Michael Miller
Michael Miller

That information is from the police report, which says that Chase and others did, indeed, drive around egging people on before parking next to the Miami River, where they were arrested.

Second, Chase himself attributed his quote to Thomas Jefferson, who is cited as saying: "A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither."

Not that it really matters. You're missing the forest for the trees. The article's point is clearly that these guys were klutzes, not Al Qaeda as they've been made out to be.

 
Miami Concert Tickets
Loading...