Three men arrested this week in a nighttime police raid planned to attack four police stations, President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house, according to court documents.
Brian Church, 22, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 27, of Miami; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla., were being held on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and providing material support.
The men were arrested Wednesday in an apartment building in the Bridgeport neighborhood. They're accused of trying to make Molotov cocktails ahead of the two-day summit that starts Sunday.
Six others arrested with them have been released without charges.
The defendants were staying at the home of William Vassilakis. He was among those outside the courthouse Saturday and said the charges against the three men are "bogus."
Vassilakis called the police action a "scare tactic" to dissuade people from protesting.
Outside court, attorney Michael Deutsch called their arrest "a Chicago Police set-up... entrapment to the highest degree."
Deutsch said that two of the people arrested were actually undercover officers.
"From our information the so-called incendiary devices and the plans to attack police stations, to attack the mayor’s office, that’s all coming from the minds of the police informants and not coming from our clients who are non-violent protesters,” he said.
Their attorney, Sarah Gelsomino, said the men were "absolutely in shock and have no idea where these charges are coming from."
"The National Lawyers Guild deplores the charges against Occupy activists in the strongest degree," Gelsomino said in a statement decrying the charges. "It's outrageous for the city to apply terrorism charges when it's the police who have been terrorizing activists and threatening their right to protest."
The accused said they weren't making explosives but homemade beer.
"We were handcuffed to a bench and our legs were shackled together. We were not told what was happening," one of the men arrested, Darrin Ammussek of Philadelphia, told NBC Chicago. "I believe very strongly in non-violence, and if I had seen anything that even resembled any plans or anything like that, we wouldn’t have been there."
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy declined to discuss the incident when asked about it Friday.
"We’re not going to talk about it, it’s an ongoing investigation that is not completed, we are not going to talk about it," he said.
Betterly has previous run-ins with the law, including an arrest following the break-in at a South Florida high school last year.
Chase grew up in Keene, N.H., and moved to Boston a few years ago before becoming active in the Occupy movement, said his aunt, Barbara Chase of Westmoreland, N.H.
She said she was stunned to learn of the charges against her nephew.
"That surprised me because he's not that dumb, at least I wouldn't have thought so anyway," said Barbara Chase, a factory worker. "He always seemed harmless, but who knows? Outside influences sometimes can sway people to do things that they normally wouldn't do."
Jared Chase's father, Steve Chase, died about five weeks ago after a long struggle with a disease that left him disabled, Barbara Chase said. The family had been waiting for him to come home before having a funeral.
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