His younger brother Drew was arrested in 2010 and charged with murdering a man during a drug deal. Brent was supportive of his brother, attorney Andrew Coffey told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I know he had a tough upbringing," he said of Brent. "He's pretty much a good kid... a free-spirited kid."

Fellow occupiers at Fort Peace say Betterly was known for his creativity and commitment to fighting foreclosures. When cops would stop protesters, he would improvise rhyming chants for the occasion ("NDAA, go away!" was a favorite), says Arianna Uguccioni. And when police gave protesters a deadline to leave their Occupy Fort Lauderdale camp, Betterly urged them to peacefully resist.

Chase was the most enigmatic of the three, according to his friend Escobar. The chain-smoker was a computer whiz who once fixed Escobar's laptop with barely any tools. He also spent days wandering around downtown and talking to homeless people. And he rarely spoke of his past. One day Escobar heard Chase listening to a rap album and asked what it was. Chase quietly admitted it was his own record. "It was pretty damn good," Escobar remembers. "But it didn't even sound like him." Nor did the peaceful activist much resemble his online persona as a troubled, drug-addicted former gang member turned DJ.

"Learn[ed] to survive in the city," Chase wrote in a bio on the music-sharing website SoundClick. "And [I] did, first through drugz, then selling drugz, then gangs, [I] was a full fledged criminal. Most people called [me] a psycho. But [I'm] only as sick as this world made [me]." In one online conversation, Chase told a rapper: "I hope you got kids or a wife so I can cut there [sic] throat while they sleeping, and then rape them after there [sic] dead." He posted copies of his New Hampshire arrests online for others to see.

When Escobar first met Chase, he was dressed in a mock police uniform with a hockey mask over a pig costume and a riot shield labeled, "Go home and consume." On February 6, Chase wrote on his Facebook wall: "Miami has the most crooked cops in the country. We should execute them before they do something we'll regret."

But Escobar says Chase shouldn't be judged by his Internet posturing. "He wasn't a malicious person," he says, adding that Chase was trusted enough to work security for the tent city. "He never got violent with anyone."

Two later incidents would only strengthen Chase's distaste for the fuzz. The first was the humiliating March 13 Miami police raid. The second happened shortly after Chase and Betterly abruptly headed to Chicago for the NATO summit protests. Brian Church, a skinny Occupy Fort Lauderdale member with auburn hair, picked them up at Fort Peace.

The three hadn't even made it to the Windy City when they were pulled over by cops, however. Chicago police told them to stay away from protests and threatened to give them a "billy club to the fucking skull," according to video the trio secretly filmed and later posted online.

A week later, SWAT officers burst through the door of the apartment where Church, Chase, and Betterly were staying and arrested them. Authorities said they found Molotov cocktails made out of beer bottles filled with gasoline, as well as a sword, a hunting bow, throwing stars, knives, and a mortar tube. And prosecutors claim to have evidence that the three protesters planned attacks on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house, Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, banks, and police stations. At one point, Church asked the others if they had ever seen "a cop on fire," according to court documents.

The three men have been charged with supporting and conspiring to commit terrorism as well as possession of explosives. They are being held in separate cells on $1.5 million bond each and face up to 85 years apiece.

But the apartment didn't belong to the trio, and others were staying there, including two suspected undercover cops. Escobar believes his friends are big-talkers whose empty boasts were seized upon by law enforcement. Lawyers representing the NATO 3 insist the weapons were planted in the apartment and that the bottles weren't explosives but part of a beer-making kit. "They are destroying these kids' lives without knowing if anything was really going to happen," Escobar says.

While Chase, Betterly, and Church sit in a Chicago jail, Fort Peace is falling apart. There are hardly any activists left, just homeless people living off Duque's hospitality. The landlord, who calls himself Señor Paz, was arrested May 11 and accused of imprisoning and battering one of his tenants. His wife says the charges are ludicrous, but because no one is paying rent anymore, she doesn't have the $750 needed to bail him out. When she asked Occupy Miami members for donations, she was rebuffed. Now she plans to evict them.

With three members behind bars and its safe house in shambles, Occupy Miami is faltering. Protesters are gradually moving out, to the delight of local police ("We hate their fucking guts," one officer told New Times). Escobar says he plans to leave town completely.

"I thought this building had a lot of potential," he says from the second-story landing where he used to hang out with Chase and Betterly. "Now it's a failure."

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11 comments
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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.

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.

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?

 
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