Two weeks ago, Chicago police announced that they had thwarted a devilish plot by three "Black Bloc" anarchists with ties to Occupy Miami. Cops arrested Brian Church, Jared Chase, and Brent Betterly as they were allegedly in the middle of making Molotov cocktails they planned to throw at targets around the Windy City.
Prosecutors have charged the trio with plotting terrorism, as if the twenty-something-year-olds were members of Al Qaeda. Friends in Occupy Miami, meanwhile, insist that the protesters are innocent.
The truth is, however, that Church, Chase, and Betterly were wannabe revolutionaries with big mouths. Read all about the three occupiers in this week's metro, or click through for video of the Miami flophouse where they lived.
Chase, 27, and Betterly, 24, flitted in and out of Fort Peace, Occupy Miami's Overtown safe-house, before heading to Chicago. Here, their fellow occupier and friend Chris Escobar talks about the two protesters and their time in Miami, arguing that they may have been "talking shit" but weren't malicious people:
Our article examines Fort Peace's role in the arrest of the NATO 3, and what the graffitied slum says about their true intentions: "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."
But in another blow to the reeling Occupy Miami movement, Fort Peace is falling apart. In this video, tenants scream at their unwanted neighbors while occupiers try to make sense of a recent eviction notice:
Many Occupy Miami's activists have already left the Overtown safe-house, some scared off by the drug use and violence, others simply bored by the lack of meaningful change.
But a few true believers remain. In this video, Johnny (aka Colombia) argues that Occupy Miami is going nowhere:
But there is little doubt that the NATO 3 arrests have damaged the reputation not only of Occupy Miami but of the Occupy movement as a whole. Family and friends of the three have expressed disbelief over the charges, which could land the occupiers in jail for up to 85 years. A Cook County court hearing is scheduled for June 12.
Lawyers for the trio have argued that they were set-up and egged on by two undercover cops pretending to be protesters.
"Charging these people who are here to peacefully protest against NATO for terrorism when in reality the police have been terrorizing activists in Chicago is absolutely outrageous," said Sarah Gelsomino, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild shortly after the arrest.
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Now Gelsomino and another lawyer representing the 'NATO 3' have themselves come under attack for outing the undercover cops.
"What they're doing is they're putting police officers' lives in jeopardy right now," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said of the attorneys. "And I think that's pretty disgusting, quite frankly."
Read our full article here. And check back for more updates on "the NATO 3" as the case progresses this summer.