Attorneys: Solitary confinement for 3 charged in firebomb plot is 'cruel and unusual'
Attorneys Sarah Gelsomino, Michael Deutsch, and Thomas Durkin, from left, who represent Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Batterly, talk about their clients. Church, Chase and Batterly are accused of attempting to make Molotov cocktails to use during NATO Summit protests. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune / May 22, 2012)
Michael Deutsch, an attorney for the National Lawyers Guild, said after a brief court hearing that the suspects, dubbed the "NATO 3" by supporters, have been held since Saturday in "hospital-white" cells 24 hours a day and not allowed to communicate with anyone.
"They are totally in isolation from everyone else in the jail and each other," Deutsch told reporters. "They have nothing to read. They have no writing material. It's a kind of sensory deprivation situation."
Brian Church, 20, and Brent Betterly, 24, both of Florida, and Jared Chase, 27, of New Hampshire, are each being held on $1.5 million baild on unprecedented state terrorism charges.
Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for Sheriff Tom Dart, said officials put the three in separate cells at the jail's Cermak Hospital wing so they could be monitored for several days to assess if they pose a risk to "harm themselves or anyone else."
Bilecki defended the move, saying the 13-by-10-foot cells in the medical wing have small windows that allow in natural light, are "painted and clean" and are monitored by nurses around the clock.
All three will likely be moved soon into the jail's general population, where they can purchase books and other materials from the commissary, Bilecki said. "They also will have the opportunity to request protective custody," he said.
According to the charges, the men are "Black Bloc" anarchists who planned to attack four Chicago police stations and destroy squad cars with Molotov cocktails. They also intended to hit President Barack Obama's national campaign headquarters in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home in Ravenswood and downtown financial institutions, prosecutors alleged. Police arrested them in a raid on their Bridgeport apartment after they allegedly had built four of the crude bombs.
Defense attorneys have alleged the men were entrapped by two undercover operatives who were either informants or Chicago police officers who infiltrated activist groups in recent weeks.
Thomas Anthony Durkin, who represents Chase, questioned if Chicago police had legal justification to infiltrate the protest groups.
"Was there really a serious threat coming from these people that they were aware of?" Durkin asked after court. "I haven't heard any evidence to support that. My client did not come here from Florida in order to do violence."
Two additional out-of-state men were arrested during protests Sunday night, bringing to just six the total number of NATO demonstrators charged with felonies.
Alex Cerajewski, 20, of Porter, Ind., was accused of inciting other Black Bloc members during a protest outside the Art Institute on South Michigan Avenue after officers allegedly saw him throw a plastic bottle at police lines.
Prosecutors said Christopher French, 21, of Beaver Dam, Wis., pushed an officer who was detaining a protester in the Loop and then scuffled with police who tried to arrest him, slightly injuring three officers. He was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer and resisting arrest.
Outside court, French's partner, a woman who identified herself only as Bailey, said he was nonviolent and would never try to hurt a police officer.
"He gets upset with me if I hurt a fly," she said.