NATO 3 revealed plot on Facebook: prosecutors
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter January 29, 2014 9:28PM
Brent Vincent Betterly (left), Jared Chase and Brian Church | Chicago Police photos
Updated: March 3, 2014 4:35PM
Cook County prosecutors Wednesday said Facebook exchanges of two NATO 3 activists show that the men were preparing for a wild showdown with authorities during the international summit here two years ago.
Weeks before the out-of-town protesters were arrested on terrorism charges in the spring of 2012, Brent Betterly anticipated “riots” and then mulled over the possibility of catching “some charges” and ending up a “fugitive.”
“U can’t apologize after throwing a Molotov cocktail,” Betterly, 25, allegedly wrote on Facebook to a friend days before, authorities said, he made the crude firebombs with Brian Church, 22, and Jared Chase, 29.
“We’re definitely gonna get our riots,” Betterly allegedly wrote to another pal on Facebook.
Church was just as excited: “Doom on,” he allegedly wrote on the social networking website.
Betterly’s attorney Molly Armour wanted to tell jurors that her client often erroneously referred to large protests as riots, but stuck to trying to convince them that Betterly was far from violent with a Facebook picture of his toddler holding a sign at an Occupy movement event in Florida.
“Welcome to the Ft. Lauderdale Occupy, please no drugs, no alcohol, no violence, be respectful,” the sign read.
Church, who expressed a desire to be on the “front lines” in Chicago, told a friend on Facebook that he had a “soft spot for all living things” and loathed violence.
However Church also allegedly wrote on the social media site that only a “bullet to the head” could stop the rage that’s uncorked when he has to defend himself and innocent people.
When a relative on Facebook suggested that he search for a job instead of demonstrating in Chicago, Church allegedly replied, “I’m not a slave.”
Church took breaks to walk his puppy and tend to a lonely girlfriend while chatting with Facebook friends about the horrors of war, failures of world leaders and the younger generation’s need to “make things” right, prosecutors said.
Betterly, who was eating at homeless shelters in Florida before shacking up at a Bridgeport apartment, said he wanted to wield a Captain America shield at the protests, authorities said.
On May 15, 2012--the day before he and his friends were arrested — Betterly logged onto Facebook to complain about the Chicago Police officers who stopped the men during a traffic stop.
“Got the f------ pigs etched into my brains. . . . I thought it was kind of cute. They must be so afraid of scaaaary protesters,” he allegedly wrote.
Chase’s Facebook activity was also touched upon in court Wednesday but it mostly centered on the logistics of Church driving him and Betterly from Florida to Chicago.
Church was going to “gas jug” it to the Windy City, meaning he’d be carrying a can to fill up small amounts of gasoline as the group drove across the country.
That red can, prosecutors said, ended up as the vessel for the gas used for the Molotov cocktails the men planned to throw at cops.