Many have noted that the “terrorism” trial of three young NATO protesters which began last week has been a joke — were not the stakes so high not only for the three young victims, but the state of civil liberties in Chicago in general.
Rather than revealing a nefarious plot to commit terrorism, the prosecution witnesses and their secret audio tapes have shown the Chicago Police Department and Cook County States’ Attorney Anita Alvarez worked shamelessly to concoct serious crimes where none existed.
We live in Chicago, where manipulating the criminal justice system and other power relationships to pursue a pro-1% political agenda has a long tradition. This is the town that gave us systemic racist police torture under Jon Burge and dozens of his colleagues, the CPD “Red Squad” murders of Black Panther Party leaders Mark Clark and Fred Hampton, the town that has a long history of sweetheart contracts and privatization deals at the expense of jobs and public services, the town where real democracy and public input are treated with thinly disguised contempt by the mayor, his lick-spittle City Council, and their hangers-on.
As the May 2012 NATO summit drew nearer, more and more Chicagoans became angry at the inconvenience and expense of the summit. More thoughtful Chicagoans also noticed the millions being spent on “security” at the same time that Mayor Emanuel was shutting down one-half of the city’s mental health clinics, with cutbacks in other services yet to come.
Yes, the summit was largely funded by the federal government — but those were still our tax dollars that could have gone to something useful (not to mention the NATO war tax dollars themselves). And yes, much of the remaining costs were picked up by major Chicago area corporations. But that just begged the question: were these wealthy corporate titans spending their millions out of altruism (don’t make us laugh!), or in return for future “considerations”?
Two-and-a-half years later, we’ve now come full circle with the Cook County States Attorneys’ Office attempting to justify its earlier transgressions by securing convictions against the NATO3 on the thinnest of grounds. This case is so dubious, even the feds won’t touch it.
That there was no “terrorism” in May 2012 Chicago is of little consequence to Anita Alvarez and Garry McCarthy. That the lives of three young men might be further ruined as a result of this ridiculous prosecution matters little. The fates of these three young men are but career stepping stones.
Originally broadcast January 31, 2014