"This is not a terrorism case, this is a ridiculous terrorism case," said attorney Thomas Durkin. Phil Rogers reports.
But it was a very short day.
During a two minute hearing at the Criminal Courts Building at 26th and California, the three suspects, Brian Church, Jared Chase, and Brent Betterly, appeared before Judge Adam Bourgeois in yellow jumpsuits, their hands and feet shackled.
Prosecutors revealed that all three had been indicted by a Cook County Grand Jury.
But when defense lawyers asked exactly what charges their clients faced, prosecutors refused, saying that would be revealed in their next court appearance July 2nd. Even Bourgeois seemed taken aback by the lack of information.
"That’s the way they’re doing it,” he said. “It seems a little strange, but that’s the way it is.”
The three are accused of plotting in a Bridgeport apartment building, to firebomb sites around Chicago, including police stations, Mayor Emanuel’s home, and the Prudential Building campaign headquarters of President Barack Obama. After court, defense lawyers blasted the state terror statute as “preposterous."
“This is not a terrorism case, this is a ridiculous terrorism case,” said attorney Thomas Durkin. “It is overbroad. It is vague. You can be a terrorist if you just destroy beehives."
He was referring to a section of the Illinois statute which allowed for terrorism charges related to tampering with the food supply.
"Destroying cornfields! It sounds like every lobbyist in the state must have gotten their hands on somebody down in Springfield, to get their little private interests included in it," he said.
Durkin declared that the suspects appeared in shackles because the government must now treat them as terrorists, having charged them under the never-before-used statute.
“The handcuffs are just part and parcel of what’s called, ‘the new normal’ now,” he said. “That’s how we treat terrorism. The problem is, only the prosecutors get to define what’s terrorism or not.”
Outside the court, members of the Occupy movement unfurled a banner in tribute of their jailed colleagues. Spokesman Joe Iosbaker declared the charges stemmed from the government’s fear of what Occupy had accomplished.
“We put those warmakers under siege,” he said, referring to the weekend of the NATO Summit in Chicago. “There was no sightseeing. There was no tourism, because they knew everywhere they went, there were thousands and thousands of protesters!”