Three NATO Summit protesters have been arrested and charged with possession of an explosive device and conspiracy to commit terrorism, police said.
The three men were identified as Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Mass.
They were charged early this morning as dozens of dignitaries from around the globe are heading to Chicago for the NATO Summit. The men have a noon bond hearing today.
All three have been each charged with three felony counts: possession of an explosive or incendiary device, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and terrorism/providing materials, said Harrison District Police Lt. Kenneth Stoppa.
Their attorney, Sarah Gelsomino, of the National Lawyers Guild, said the third charge was providing material support to terrorism.
These are "very trumped up charges," said Gelsomino, who said the three men had been stopped by police while in a car a week ago.
They were also among nine people that were collared Wednesday night in a raid on an apartment building in the 1000 block of West 32nd in the Bridgeport neighborhood.
At least two others were arrested later, Gelsomino said.
Six of them had been released by late Friday night, while Gelsomino could not say what had happened to the other two.
Sources said the protesters were suspected of building Molotov cocktails — bottles filled with flammable liquid that are used as firebombs.
But one of the released protesters, Darrin Annussek, of Philadelphia, said he didn't see bomb-making materials in the apartment.
Lawyers for the protesters said there was only brewing equipment there. Michael Vassilakis said his brother William was hosting the protesters and his beer equipment was confiscated.
Gelsomino met with the men late Friday and said their faces "really lit up when they heard" that about 40 protesters had come to the station in support. About two dozen remained after midnight, chanting, "Forty-eight hours is at it's end, now it's time to free our friends," and "Our passion for freedom is stronger than their prison." They started marching around the block, but police stopped them and said it was too late to chant so loudly in a residential area.
Another arrested protester — a Chicago man who has claimed police broke his neck in 2010 — nearly made it to bond court Friday afternoon.
The 28-year-old, who grew up in the Northwest suburbs, was listed on Friday's noon bond court call. But, in a twist, his case was never called.
A source at the courthouse said the man was pulled off the call and sent back to a police station. The source said the Cook County State's Attorney's Felony Review division had not yet approved charges against him.
One member of the Bridgeport group said he was familiar with that arrested protester.
The protester has a history with police, and was sentenced to two years of probation — and anger management — for punching a Chicago police officer in the face in 2010, court records show. He also was sentenced to perform community service — but he violated that demand and was due back in court soon. He also was convicted of assault in 2009 and 2008, records show.
In the 2010 arrest, police and firefighters responded to a call of a man down. The now-arrested protester was in "a drunken state" and yelling, court records show. According to records, he wouldn't calm down, and then punched an officer with two closed fists when the officer tried to keep him away from the fire lieutenant he was moving toward.
The officer had to go into an "emergency take down" to diffuse the situation.
The man claimed police broke his neck. A 2010 mugshot shows him in a neck brace.
He's a former high school wrestler and told court officials in a pre-sentencing report in 2011 that he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and "oppositional defiance disorder." Records show that he was never in the military.
The man's mother said she did not know her son was in custody. When told his arrest appeared to be related to the NATO Summit, his mother said: "That sounds about right."
"Well, he's sort of a little protester," she said. "He does speak out."
Asked if he has a dislike for police, she said: "Yes. Authority figures, especially police, you could say that."
Attorneys for the arrested protesters, in a news conference outside the Harrison District police station on the West Side Friday, accused police of violating the protesters' civil rights.
Gelsomino argued the Bridgeport search was illegal and that protesters were mistreated while in custody. She also said the National Lawyers Guild approached the police department asking whether the protesters were detained, but got no answer.
"We in this country do not kidnap people off the street and hold them in secret," she said.
Annussek, who was arrested and released, said he was only told he was suspected of being part of a conspiracy.
Annussek, 36, said he's a laid-off social worker who started hiking in November as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He said he walked to Atlanta before starting a trek to Chicago in February.
After he was arrested, Annussek said he was held at one location for 18 hours without access to a bathroom. Some protesters soiled themselves before they were moved to the Harrison District, he said.
Annussek also claims an officer wrote "ID 1968" on his hand. That year, Chicago hosted the Democratic National Convention, which was marred by violence between protesters and police.
The Chicago Police Department and Cook County state's attorney's office would not comment on the arrests Friday.