Report from trial of Jared Chase, Crook County Courthouse, 26th and California, Chicago, IL
11 April 2016
The call was put out once again by the friends, comrades and supporters of the NATO3’s Jared “Jay” Chase to “pack the courtroom” for his trial for an alleged assault on a prison guard at Illinois’ Pontiac prison back on October 4th 2013. His friends and comrades put out this call on Facebook, Twitter and WordPress and it was re-Tweeted by ourselves and who knows how many others in Chicago and around the USA. This resulted in a grand total of about 15 people showing up for the trial. Once again the working class of Chicago – and the major “revolutionary socialist” parties were no-shows.
IWPCHI’s reporter (the writer of this article) showed up at about 8:30 for the trial and once again there was no demonstration outside the courtroom. We had brought a couple of protest signs but when a trio of anarchist comrades of Jay arrived bringing coffee and bananas, they had no signs or banners so our reporter was the only person who stood outside the courthouse with a protest sign that read “FREEDOM NOW for NATO3’s JARED CHASE! PRISON NOW for DEMOCRATS’ KILLER KOPS OF KAPITAL!” Our second sign read: “U.S. POLICE STATE TERROR: FROM GITMO to HOMAN SQ. – MADE IN CHICAGO by the DEMOCRATS”.
The Democratic Party criminals who run Cook County’s “justice system” – one of the most vicious and crooked racist legal systems in the world – have been playing games with the citizenry who must deal with their kangaroo court system by denying citizens the right to bring cell phones into the courthouse. In a criminal justice system in which the police routinely lie on the witness stand and the judges let them get away with it, and which historically has been the scene of rigged trials, judges getting payoffs from defense attorneys and all manner of corruption taking place it’s not hard to understand why these serial criminals would not want people possessing the means with which they could take photographs and make audio recordings of the corrupt practices common in this legal whorehouse.
About a week before Jay’s trial it was announced that Crook County Courthouse would no longer be providing lockers for cell phones so that people could attend their court hearings. Some bullshit reasons were given about the County not having the staff necessary to run the locker operation. The US capitalist class doesn’t want to spend the money necessary to run anything properly, even their for-profit injustice system. We were informed by a homeless man outside the courthouse that some enterprising “roach coach” vendors who park their catering trucks across the street from the Crooked Crook County judicial sewer had installed lockers in their trucks and were charging $2 a locker to store people’s phones while they were in court. Ah, sweet capitalism! What would we do without you?
This reporter and the three anarchist supporters of Jay Chase were outside the courthouse drinking coffee around 8:45. The courtrooms officially open for their sordid “business” at 9AM but usually things get started much later than that. Last time we were at Jay’s hearing Judge Thaddeus Wilson didn’t show up until 10:05. So we figured that we had plenty of time to burn.
As we sat around chatting, the line of unfortunate workers queuing up for their latest encounter with the Chicago Democratic Party’s idea of a “justice” system began to grow. It was a Monday, after all; and in spite of all the yammering the capitalist classes’ bought-and-paid-for politicians have been engaged in about reducing the world’s largest per-capita prison population (“USA(TM)! USA(TM)! USA(TM)! We’re Number One!(TM)”) the cops are so busy busting people over the weekends that the Crooked Crook County Jail is always kept overflowing on Mondays with people who will be forced to either fork over a wad of cash for bond or spend the next 2 months – or maybe years! – in the jail. So the hundreds of people – defendants and family and friends of those already jailed and awaiting their bond hearings and trials – all trying to get into the Crooked Crook County Courthouse at the same time cause a traffic jam that the imbecile Sheriffs cops who work the security detail can’t handle. In fifteen minutes the line was stretching all the way out to the street and it was moving at a snail’s pace. This of course meant that none of these hundreds of people would be able to get to their court hearings on time. Later on, a homeless acquaintance of mine told me that his friend got stuck in that line a while back and was late for his hearing and so an arrest warrant was issued for him because he “failed to appear in court”. This is just one of the many ways that the Democrats destroy people’s lives with their shitty, crooked justice system here in Obama’s phony “home town”.
I wanted to let Jay’s comrades know that I did not want to create a conflict with their decision whether or not to stand up together when Jay was led into the courtroom – as is a long-standing tradition of the US workers movement. The last time I came to Jay’s court appearance (the appearance before the last) I stood up when he entered the courtroom and again when he left, as per the long-standing international working class tradition; and I recieved criticism from his comrades for doing so. On April 11 I let his comrades know that I was in favor of standing up and thereby upholding this honored and honorable tradition but that I would accept their decision on this question. Judge Thaddeus Wilson – who pretends that the Rev. Martin Luther King is his inspiration – had issued a threat to hold anyone who stood up in solidarity with Jay in contempt of court. Revolutionary Trotskyists do not cower in the face of this kind of provocation from a Kangaroo judge of the capitalist system; but the anarchists apparently do. They informed me that they believe that it is unwise to provoke the ire of the judge when Jay’s liberty is at stake. I replied that there is no justice to be expected from the capitalist system at all and especially not in political cases like Jay’s. Kissing the judge’s ass is not going to get us – or Jay – anywhere. Anyone who thinks that by acting like obedient wage-slaves we can elicit fairness from the worker-militant-hating judicial system of the capitalist class is delusional. But they had decided not to stand up when Jay came into the court, so I let them know that I would abide by their decision – although I disagreed with it.
One of the anarchists and I had nice conversation in which that person told me I should look up the Alexander Berkman/Emma Goldman book about the ABCs of anarchism. (I have looked it up and have read it and it was outrageously counter-revolutionary). I suggested to them that they should read the Communist Manifesto – which of course they had “read parts of” as so many college-educated youth will say (come on man; the Communist Manifesto is like 45 pages!).
The anarchists spotted some of their comrades in line and as these guys moved up to where we were sitting they cut into the line with their friends and went in. It was only about 9AM at that time and I thought I’d just wait a little while until the end of the line came up to where I sat on the plaza outside the front door of the “courthouse”.
The courthouse screws were out yelling at people to get into two parallel lines: one for women and one for men. There were three times as many men as women, so the men’s line continued to grow and grow until it reached the sidewalk and then stretched southwards down California. I couldn’t see the end of it from where I sat. Men who accompanied their female friends up to the front of the women’s line were summarily ordered to go to the end of the ridiculously long men’s line; this made for some amusing scenes as guys turned around and began their long, embarassed trek back to the sidewalk and down the street to the end of the queue.
Just for the hell of it I decided to wait and see how long it would actually take for the end of the line to reach me, sitting about 25 feet from the front door. It was a nice, sunny spring day and I don’t like to stand in long lines like a moron. I read the latest Chicago scandals in the Tribune (2nd brother shot by cop cleared in court”) and enjoyed the similarity between the front page story about airline passengers at O’Hare suffering long waits in boarding lines due to deliberate understaffing by the TSA who are trying to force people to pay $85 for expedited boarding. “Last month, 1,000 American Airlines passengers missed their flights at O’Hare due to ‘excessive’ TSA lines”. Oh, capitalism! There is no way we could possibly create a better system than you! “[One] flier, who asked not to be named [what is she afraid of? This is the “Land of the Free(TM)”!] said she wasn’t spending $85 to solve TSA’s problem. ‘It’s a scam,’ she said.” Right you are, dear sister! Please contact us! We need intelligent people like you to help us overthrow this rotten capitalist system!
Meanwhile back at the Crookedest Courthouse in the USA, the line was actually still getting longer and I began to wonder if I, by being such a stubborn ass about not getting in line, would miss the opening arguments in Jay’s trial! It was 9:30 and there was no end in sight for the line, which continued to grow. My homeless friend (who I met years ago when I lived in Wicker Park before it became so expensive that workers could no longer afford to live there) and I chatted a while and then he met some friends of his coming out of the courthouse and he left. It was now getting near 10 AM and still the line was running down along the sidewalk.
The women’s line, however, had only a few people in it. Why didn’t the Crooked Crook County Sheriffs’ screws start sending men through the women’s side of the security check? Who knows? You don’t have to have a lot of brains to be a Sheriffs’ cop in Crooked Crook County – or anywhere else. What would these jackasses do if the USA ever cut its prison population back down to the levels it had maintained from the 1920s until the Jimmy Carter era?
The end of the line finally came up to where I was sitting at about 10:20AM. I got into line and managed to get through security at about 10:30. I wondered: how many people had arrest warrants issued against them this morning thanks to the imbeciles running security in the Crookedest Courthouse in “The Greatest Country in the World(TM)”?
So I head up to Courtroom 303 – the lair of Judge Thaddeus Wilson, he of the prominently displayed Martin Luther King, Jr. portrait hanging on the door behind his bench. I enter and – surprise! There is another case being heard and it isn’t Jay Chase’s. Good! I sit down on one of the open spaces on the wooden bench to the left of the door to the courtroom, where I can see all the way back into the vestibule where the prisoners are briefly held after they are led from their cells and just before they enter into the courtroom proper.
This case in concluded and another is called. We all sit and listen quietly to the proceedings. This last case is concluded and the defendant and his lawyer leave the courtroom.
Two large Sheriffs’ cops enter the courtroom; then four more; all seem a bit agitated and I wonder what’s going on. Are they here to handle the “dangerous arch-criminal” Jay Chase?
Suddenly – an announcement from the bench by the (cough!) “honorable” Judge Thaddeus Wilson:
“Due to security concerns I am ordering the gallery to be cleared. Everyone must go out into the hall to be searched.”
Thaddeus thinks he’s being so clever! What an amazing act of jurisimpudence! Wouldn’t Dr. Martin Luther King be proud of him! Dr. King would be disgusted with this criminal in black robes and his dirty little ploy to make Jay Chase’s comrades – who were all sitting peacefully and politely watching the proceedings, not even making the slightest sound or gesture or any conversation at all! – appear to be posing a threat to Kangaroo Judge Thaddeus Wilson’s Kangaroo Court! But Martin Luther King had witnessed scenes like this many times before when he was dragged in front of judges who hated him and anyone else who attempted to fight for civil rights. Judge Thaddeus Wilson has far more in common than he could possibly imagine in his small mind with the bandits in black robes who persecuted Dr. King!
The group of thuggish Sheriff’s cops summoned by Kangaroo Judge Thaddeus Wilson under the false pretense that a “security threat” existed in his courtroom ushered us all out into the hallway to be searched. Male cops searched men and there were a pair of female cops to search the women. I was the fourth in line to be searched so I was back in the courtroom within 4 minutes. When I went in I saw that Jay Chase had already been rushed into the courtroom and his Kangaroo “Trial” was underway!
Jay and his lawyer had already informed the judge that he intended to plead guilty to a single charge of assault in a plea bargain deal. Judge Wilson rushed through the protocol of making sure that Jay understood what he was consenting to. Jay stood tall and firm and answered the Judge’s questions in a strong and clear voice, with his “lawyer” Peter Benesh standing by his side silently. He was pleading guilty; he was waiving his right to a jury trial; he understood the implications; he had not been coerced into making his plea.
By this time Kangaroo Judge Wilson had so rushed through the plea deal that only about half of Jay’s comrades had re-entered the courtroom. As they came back and were informed of what had transpired their faces expressed shock and dismay.
Wilson zipped through the plea deal so quickly that I was unable to get it all down. Jay was pleading guilty to an aggravated assault – a class 4 felony – punishable by 1-6 years in prison. Of couse if Jay hadn’t been framed up on the bogus terrorism charges concocted by the Chicago Police and their undercover agent-provocateurs, the “assault” on the guard would never have taken place! (Jay pled guilty to having sprayed a piss/shit combo on a guard’s leg if I understood the rushed proceedings correctly).
Jay waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation; he was immediately sentenced to one year in jail and one year of mandatory supervised release.
And that was it. Jay was ushered out of the courtroom to be hauled back to rejoin his 1.8 million working class brothers and sisters languishing in the prison hellholes of the “Land of the Free(TM)”.
Jay’s comrades immediately got up and left the courtroom. I waited to see if I could get any explanation of the outcome of the trial from Jay’s ineffectual “lawyer” Peter Benesh.
Attorney Benesh was polite if brusque; he and another attorney working with him on the case – who handled the NATO3 terrorism side of the deal – went out into the hallway and tersely answered my confused questions.
I read my notes on the sentence to Benesh who corrected a couple of things. Then I asked him how much longer Jay would be in jail. “I have no idea” he said. “It’s up to IDOC [Illinois Department of Corrections] to calculate the length of the time Jay will have to serve.” I was confused. “Well when you agreed to the plea deal didn’t you work out in advance how long that would be? How could you agree to a plea deal without knowing what his sentence would be?” Benesh said that the idea was to plead guilty so that Jay could get a reduced sentence and get out of prison as soon as possible which was important due to his serious health issues. I asked Benesh how Jay’s treatment was being taken care of while he was in prison. He said “I don’t know. Obviously not very well” or words to that effect.
I said “Can you make an educated guess as to how long you think Jay’s sentence will be?” Benesh replied: “I have no idea. I’ve never worked with IDOC before, and no one in my office has ever worked with them before. It’s up to them.”
Benesh told me that in the next few weeks or months – basically, at IDOC’s leisure – Jay would be handed what is called a “yellow sheet” from IDOC informing him of their decision regarding the amount of additional prison time he would be forced to serve. “Will you be receiving a copy of that form as well? Could I get a copy of it?” I asked. Benesh replied: “I won’t get anything. Jay will get the yellow sheet”. Astounded, I said: “you won’t get anything?” and Benesh replied: “No.”
So I stood there for a few seconds trying to process this information and trying to think o other questions but couldn’t come up with anything. Benesh and his colleague seemed – as they did the last time I spoke with them – to be in a hurry and in no mood to volunteer any information beyond terse replies to my questions. So I thanked them and Benesh went back into the courtroom and his colleague and I headed towards the elevators. She was walking ahead of me by a few steps. “This is a strange situation; wasn’t that security search something?” I said to Benesh’s lawyer-colleague’s back.
“Weird things happen in this building” she replied without turning to face me as she walked off.
* * * * * * *
Jay’s friends and comrades were standing in a circle listening to one of their number as he explained something to them which I could not hear. The expressions on everyone’s faces was a mixture of shock and deep dismay. I let him finish what he was saying and then I told them what the lawyers had told me… which they already seemed to understand. Brent Betterly was there and his experience being run through the grinding gears of the Illinois “criminal justice system” enabled him to explain to his comrades what it all meant. No one looked pleased. I introduced myself to the guy who had addressed the group because I had overheard him talking to the lawyers earlier and thought he was involved in the fundraising for Jay. But I was wrong. Everyone around this group treats those who they do not know personally with some degree of suspicion, varying from mild suspicion to mild hostility. I’m not used to working with political groups who haven’t assigned someone to be a spokesperson for the group who can handle simple inquiries from concerned working-class citizens and organizations as well as the news media. So it’s very irritating to be treated with suspicion because I’m a “stranger”. “Stranger! DANGER!” is not the typical attitude of professional revolutionary organizations. All of the political organizations I’ve been either a member or sympathiser of – the Worker’s World Party, the Spartacist League and the Partisan Defense Committee – were open and friendly to people who came out to support them at demonstrations and public events of all kinds. Not so with these “anarchists”. Some were almost friendly – I had a sort of conversation with a young woman before the trial – but most of these folks just don’t seem comfortable at all talking with anyone who they don’t know.
As we left the Crook County Courthouse I tried to start a conversation with a couple of people in the hopes that I could establish some kind on ongoing working relationship with these guys. “So what party or groups are you in?” I asked one couple of people. “We’re not in a group” they replied. “Well are you guys anarchists or socialists…?” “No we’re not anything”. Total brush-off. This is no way to do political work, my friends. You have to be capable of establishing contacts with other members of political groups. You either grow or die.
It appears to me that the police entrapment scheme played out upon these young activists had the precise effect the cops wished it to have: it completely deranged them politically and socially. They are now so paranoid against anyone who approaches them on a political level that they have been rendered useless politically. This is the kind of damage that a police infiltration operation is designed to create.
The communist organizations are strong enough to withstand these kinds of attacks; these loose-knit pseudo-anarchoid collective whatevers are just demolished the minute they encounter such a common and predictable police provocation. We warn youth who are interested in joining a socialist or anarchist organization that only the revolutionary socialists have the organizational experience that will make it almost impossible for you to be set up the way the NATO3 were. Youth members of Trotskyist organizations like the Spartacist League or our party are educated right off the bat as to what our party program is and what it isn’t; youth who seek to join our parties agree to study our revolutionary program and must be capable of explaining it to others before they can become members. So you would KNOW that we do not condone or advocate terrorism as a revolutionary method of struggle – we oppose it. So when a couple of Police Explorers like the ones who framed the NATO3 come around trying to get OUR youth members to engage in stupid-ass shit like “throwing molotov cocktails at a bank” OUR youth members IMMEDIATELY recognize the signs of an agent-provocateur and are required to immediately notify the party leadership about this provocation. I simply can’t imagine a youth member of an organization like the Sparts getting set up like these naïve anarchist youth of the NATO 3 were. I’ve never heard of this happening to the Sparts or Workers World or The SWP or even the reformists of the Stalinist Communist Party! It must be said as plainly as this for your own good, dear NATO3 and their supporters: revolutionary communists are just not that stupid! I’m not trying to insult you; I’m trying to educate you as to the vast gulf that exists between the amateurishness of the anarchist grouplets and the Occupy activists and the professional Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist revolutionaries! Very, very few of you would even be considered for youth membership in any professional socialist revolutionary organization.
So the lesson for the youth is: be careful what organizations you join. We should point out the fact that anarchism has been an utterly useless political philosophy since the Bolsheviks proved in 1917 the absolute necessity of organizing a workers STATE in order to defend a workers revolution from the inevitable counterrevolutionary attacks. Anarchists have NEVER led a successful workers revolution anywhere in the world and they probably never will because of their childish and counter-revolutionary aversion to the concept of a “workers state”. Only Marxist/Leninist vanguard parties have ever led successful workers revolutions. EVERY revolution has been led by a vanguard party of some kind – including the American and French Revolutions. If you want to join a revolutionary workers organization go with the pros, not with the amateurs. Your life could be put at risk if you join a half-assed political activist group. The NATO3 case is a case-study on how untrained non-communist political activists can just walk right into a cop frame-up that would be obvious to a 15-year-old communist youth. And believe me: I’ve met 15-year old communist youth who are head-and-shoulders more politically conscious than the wisest anarchist I’ve ever met. Including Noam Chomsky!
As I left the courthouse I tried again to start a conversation with another pair of NATO3 supporters. I told them about my previous work with the Sparts and Partisan Defense Committee as they seemingly tried to walk away from me as if I was carrying the plague. “The thing about this case is that it shows the complete lack of organizational competence of the anarchist groups” I said. “Half of the commies in Chicago are cops” was the reply! “That’s not true!” I replied. These people are simply running scared now that they’ve had their fingers burned on what was probably their very first attempt to engage in political activism. They are useless as political activists. At this stage of development they are even incapable of talking about their own political ideas to workers on the street. Everyone who expresses a level of consciousness greater than that of a naïve teenage anarchist is looked upon with deepest suspicion! “Obviously he must be a cop! It’s impossible that he could be a socialist!” seems to be their reaction to me at least. I do not like being treated like this at all. It pisses me off! Lol! How can you possibly do effective political work with an attitude like this? Perhaps this is why none of the major socialist political parties are involved with the last remaining NATO3 defense case?
When I worked with the Sparts, we didn’t AVOID “strangers” at a demonstration or who had come to participate in a legal defense campaign at a courthouse: WE SOUGHT THEM OUT and introduced ourselves and talked to them! We wanted to know who they were and find out if they would be interested in joining our organization! We sold them Workers Vanguard and tried to get their phone numbers so we could call them after they had a chance to read the paper so we could see how they liked it! You know – LIKE NORMAL HUMAN BEINGS! What has this sorry-ass country come to that “political activists” are afraid to converse with people who come out to support said “political activists”?
I mentioned to one of the NATO3 supporters that I had been trying to send money to the anarchists who had fought the Nazis in Anaheim, California a couple months ago. I couldn’t send the money because the guy who was collecting it was supposedly a “friend” of one of the guys who had been stabbed by a Nazi.
“You have to know people” he replied! That is fucking pathetic! We don’t live in Nazi Germany where political activist organizations have to operate from “the underground”! It’s a worthless type of organization that can’t even raise money from the public for their comrades’ medical care because they can’t get it together to create a trustworthy official organization to collect the funds! This kind of “organization” is engaged in amateurish practices that were completely abandoned by the workers movement 200 years ago! The philosophical bankruptcy of anarchist philosophy is exposed by this kind of third-rate dysfunction exhibited time and time again by anarchist grouplets.
“Many are called; but few are chosen” goes the saying. Revolutionary working class political activism is not a video game; and it’s not a playground for children or amateurs. To have your political group destroyed by the most common police frame-up which a revolutionary communist organization would repel like water off a duck’s back is a disgrace. If you think that what happened to the NATO3 is a savage attack by the capitalist state you should open your eyes and look at the massacre of leftist youth that took place in Mexico; look at the attacks on Communist Party political candidates in India; look at what FARC went through in Colombia the last time they tried to trade guerrilla warfare for legal political work! What happened to the NATO3 was a mere scratch! 3 years in jail is nothing compared to what communists have suffered at the hands of the class enemy from Tsarist Russia to Kuomintang China to Japanese-occupied Korea to Hitler’s Germany, Pinochet’s Chile and D’Aubuisson’s El Salvador – or the ACTUAL ANARCHIST Haymarket Martyrs! If your “organization/collective/reading circle” can’t recover from a pathetic attack like what was thrown at NATO3 then your organization isn’t worth a damn.