CHICAGO, Illinois (CBS4) – Three men with ties to South Florida and to the South Florida Occupy movement are accused of plotting a domestic terrorist attack at the NATO Summit in Chicago, and have been arrested there on state terrorism charges.
Brent Betterly, 24, Brian Church, 20, and Jared Chase, 24, are charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism, and possession of an explosive incendiary device.
“These individuals charged today are self-proclaimed anarchists,” said Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez. “Their intent was to commit terrorist acts of violence during the NATO conference.”
Betterly is from Oakland Park. Church lives in Fort Lauderdale. Authorities say Chase is from New Hampshire, but has spent time participating in the Occupy movement in South Florida.
Prosecutors say the men drove from Florida to Illinois to protest the NATO summit.
They were accused Saturday of manufacturing Molotov cocktails in a plot to attack President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago home and other targets.
An attorney speaking on behalf of the accused said the men were making beer, not explosives.
“There is absolutely no evidence brought before any of us regarding Molotov cocktails or anything else,” said National Lawyers Guild attorney Kris Hermes.
Betterly, Chase and Church were frequent participants of the Occupy movement in South Florida. Chase was arrested at an Occupy Miami event earlier this year.
According to Betterly’s Facebook page, the group arrived in Chicago on April 28th. He wrote on the wall of Occupy the Chicago NATO Summit that day. “Thanks for the hospitality,” Betterly wrote. “This is going to be a great summit.”
Bond for each defendant has been set at $1.5 million.