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Three NATO Protesters Charged With Terrorism; Protesters Say They Were Only Brewing Beer (UPDATED)

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 19, 2012 2:30PM

Brent Betterly, Brian Church and Jared Chase have been charged in an alleged NATO summit terror plot. CPD photos.

Chicago Police have charged three men with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device.

The three men, Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, NH; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla.; were among eight arrested Wednesday in a raid of a Bridgeport apartment by police attorneys for the men alleged was illegal.

Police Department sources told the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC7 they seized "several Molotov cocktails" in the raid. Sarah Gelsomino of the National Lawyers Guild, which is representing the three men, disputed that and said what police actually confiscated was homebrewing equipment.

“Although some accusations of Molotov cocktails have been made by police, they have provided no evidence of criminal intent or wrongdoing on the part of the activists,” she said in the statement. “On Thursday, when asked about the raid at a press conference, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy knew so little about the alleged terrorism investigation that he said he would have to gather further information before commenting.”

Gelsomino also said the charges against Betterly, Chase and Church is part of an ongoing pattern of harassment by police directed at the three.

Betterly, Chase and Church were also in a car that was stopped by Chicago police last week. Video of that incident alleges police tried to intimidate and harass the men.

UPDATE 2:45 P.M. — Prosecutors say the three men had planned attacks on the Obama campaign headquarters, Rahm's Ravenswood home and a police station. The three have been charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and possessing an explosive device. They are being held on $1.5 million bond.

"My friends Zoe and Bill live in the apartment. They're home-brewing enthusiasts. They brew their own beer. You have materials like that," Occupy Chicago's Rachael Perotta told ABC7.