Activists demand release of NATO protesters charged under anti-terrorism laws

07/02/12 Janelle Irwin
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In response to the three NATO protesters who today plead not guilty to charges that they were planning an attack on President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, groups nationwide are asking Cook County State’s attorney Anita Alvarez to drop the charges.

“Hi, my name is Jared Hamil. I’m calling to demand that all charges be dropped against anti-NATO protesters. As a fellow activist, I was at the anti-NATO protest in Chicago. We were all there together to say no more killings, no more murders and to demand the right for all people to self determination. Protesting is not a crime and rightfully opposing the U.S. led NATO war in Afghanistan is not either. Release them all now.”

The accused are Brian Church and Brent Vincent Betterly from Florida and Jared Chase from New Hampshire. Each was charged with 11 criminal violations including four that were filed under Illinois’ unprecedented anti-terrorism statutes and several charges of arson. Jared Hamil who is with the group Coalition to March on the RNC said events like the NATO Summit and political conventions are creating a massive attack on protesters by officials and police.

“And so they trump up these charges dealing with terrorism so that they can silence the voice of the protest, do away with the protest, repress the protest. So, what we saw in 2008, what we saw in Chicago and what we’re probably going to see here in Tampa is heavy, militarized police force.”

The National call-in day was initiated by the Committee to stop FBI Repression which was organized following the raid of protesters homes before the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Hamil said it’s impossible to know just how many people will be calling Cook County’s Alvarez today, but a Facebook page for the effort shows 38 people who plan to take action. Hamil’s call was left on a voicemail. The group originally intended a call-in to Tampa city officials to ask them to ensure protester’s rights. Hamil said the group will likely resume that effort soon.

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