Tag Archives: political prisoners

Report: 11 April 2016 Trial of NATO3’s Jared Chase, Crook County Courthouse, 26th & California, Chicago, IL

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.

—- IWPCHI

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Report on NATO 3 Defendant Jared Chase’s Court Appearance 18 February 2016

DROP ALL CHARGES AGAINST JARED CHASE AND FREE HIM NOW!

At a pre-trial hearing held today (18 February, 2016), former NATO 3 defendant Jared Chase’s Cook County Public Defender Peter Benesh made an ineffectual attempt to obtain a court injunction prohibiting the shackling of Chase using a “black box” device, which causes physical injury to Chase, who suffers from Huntington’s Disease.  Chase was in court to answer to charges of “aggravated battery to a corrections officer” – a Class I offense, punishable by between 4 and 15 years in the penitentiary.  Yet Chase’s lawyer was repeatedly rebuffed by Cook County Court Judge Thaddeus Wilson for lack of preparation in not asking for this protective court order in the proper fashion.

We were informed about the hearing via the Twitter and WordPress accounts of   “Free the NATO 3”.

In our experience attending hearings like this one (since circa 1979), defendants have almost always had a legal defense campaign orchestrated by one or another revolutionary socialist party. Having had more than a century of experience defending class-war prisoners, the communists know how to run an effective defense campaign in a politically-charged case like this.  Understanding that, in political cases, legal precedent and rule of law have a tendency to fly out the window, the communists do not act as if it’s just “business as usual” defending a political activist:  they organize media campaigns to get out their side of the story in defense of the accused, make sure that their physical presence is asserted before every court hearing with a protest outside the “temple of justice” and make sure that the lawyers in the case understand the nature of how the capitalist frame-up system works in cases involving anti-capitalist political activists.  Effective tactics are employed to let the powers that be understand that the defendant does not stand alone in facing the charges; the revolutionary working class principle that “an injury to one is an injury to all” means that every worker in the USA – in fact, the revolutionary workers movement itself – is on trial, not just the defendant.  Inside the courtroom they stand in solidarity with the accused when the defendant’s name or names are called.  This always pisses off the judges – but the communists don’t mount defense campaigns for their comrades in order to have the opportunity to kiss a judge’s ass.  Communists understand that it is imperative to make it clear to both the accused person(s) and the court and spectators that THIS defendant is not fighting his or her case by themselves – he or she has a strong and militant base of supporters closely watching every development in the case.  Often times major court victories have been won only after huge national and international defense campaigns have made it politically extremely expensive for the bourgeoisie to railroad the defendant.  These class-struggle methods have worked time and time again to expose the injustice of the capitalist system to the world; they alert the working class to the vital necessity of NOT acting as if these cases are just “business as usual”.  The outrageous US government frame-up of the NATO 3  is an attempt by the capitalist state to intimidate the working class and crush political dissent.  Workers must be awakened to this fact and taught not to cower in the face of such criminal conspiracies that the capitalist class and its justice system continuously launch against worker-militants.

For activist groups who are not part of the revolutionary socialist movement, like the NATO 3 folks, these historical lessons have not been incorporated into their defense tactics.  Not having the revolutionary Marxist understanding that there is no justice for workers – especially communist or anarchist workers or trade union militants – in the capitalist courts, they tend to try to “play by the rules” of the court, allowing defense attorneys to kowtow to the judge’s every whim; they advise supporters to “keep a low profile” in and around the courtroom, often even going so far as to assert that the defense attorneys “know” this judge and know how best to “get on the good side of the judge” for a favorable ruling.  More often than not, these class-collaborationist tactics result in complete disaster, with the defendants getting the book thrown at them.  The defense attorneys then express “shock” at the “uncharacteristically severe” sentence handed out by their “friend” the judge.  Revolutionary Marxists don’t fall for this bullshit.

Having been informed by Jared Chase’s supporters’ websites that the hearing today would occur at 9AM, I made certain to arrive early so I could participate in the demonstration that would undoubtedly occur before the hearing.  But when I arrived at 8:45 AM, this is what I saw:

... not a goddamned thing! So excuse me for being disappointed.

… not a goddamned thing! So excuse me for being disappointed.

This was not good.  When I expressed my disappointment later to a handful of his supporters in the court gallery at not having seen the slightest hint of public protest outside the courthouse, I was chastised for being so arrogant in criticising them since  they had been attending all these hearings for all these years and I had not.  As if that matters in terms of the simple expression of disappointment at seeing NO evidence of support outside the courthouse TODAY!  These poor defense tactics usually don’t obtain much sympathy from the judges, who have been instructed by the political powers in the Cook County Democratic machine to “make an example” of the defendants.

While it is entirely understandable that Chase’s supporters are depressed and dismayed at the prospect of their friend spending up to 15 years in prison if he gets the maximum sentence possible in this case, that is no excuse for failing to organize an effective defense campaign and then expressing hostility towards supporters who express their dismay when they show up at court in response to an appeal for support and find no organized support at all!

Progress cannot be achieved by the workers movement if historical lessons go unlearned and if every generation just keeps making the same avoidable mistakes over and over and over again.  Our capitalist class opponents have centuries of experience buttressing their class rule; they learn from their failures and don’t repeat the same stupidity twice!  Likewise, the communist movement has nearly 200 years of experience fighting frame-ups in the courts of the capitalist classes all over the world.  To fail to take advantage of the hard-won experience of the revolutionary communist movement is a major error on the part of any activist group that finds its comrades in a situation like Jared Chase is in.

It was no surprise in this era of mass apathy among US workers that – in Chicago, a city of 4 million – a grand total of 9 supporters of Chase (including this reporter) made the trek to the Cook County Courthouse for the hearing.  It was held in a bizarre glassed-in courtroom in which spectators are entirely sealed off from the actual courtroom, which sits behind a semicircular glass-and-metal barrier that looks like something out of the original Star Wars movie.  No photos could be taken of the courtroom because in the “free and open” court system of Crooked Crook County, the Chief Justice has banned all cell phones from the premises.  Members of the public who wish to observe the proceedings in Cook County Courthouse at 26th St. and California Avenue in Chicago must not only pass a metal detector screening before entering the courthouse, but they must also place their cell phones, chargers and any other electronic recording devices in secure lockers (provided for free by the county) before they are allowed to enter the building.  The criminals running the farcical “justice” system  in Crook County Courthouse – widely acknowledged to be one of the most corrupt in the United States of America – must keep video and audio evidence of their many blatant miscarriages of justice hidden from the eyes of the working class at all costs.

The court hearing in room 303 (which was set for 9:00 AM according to the “Free the NATO 3” website ) never actually got underway until 10:05 when the “Honorable” Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson finally graced us with his presence.  Wilson, who is black, has hung a large framed color photograph of the Rev. Martin Luther King on the door behind the bench in order to give the appearance (to the uninitiated) that in his courtroom, the respected principles of Dr. King are upheld.  King would undoubtedly not be amused to know that his portrait is being utilized in this manner in a courtroom in Cook County, where brutal racist injustice is meted out daily to hundreds of primarily black and Hispanic defendants.  Hundreds of people of color are daily shipped to this County Courthouse for “kangaroo court”-style bond hearings at which it’s “your money or the next two months of your life” while you wait in jail for your trial.   Judge Wilson’s courtroom sits directly above a filthy, overcrowded basement prison dungeon where hundreds of people are crammed into holding cells awaiting trial; this is a place completely at odds with everything Dr. Martin Luther King stood for.

On the dark, smoked glass barrier that stands between the public and the “bar of justice” are affixed a number of printed and crudely hand-lettered signs threatening the citizenry – who are supposed to be those from whom Judge Wilson derives whatever limited power he actually possesses – not to do a multiplicity of things.  “Absolutely No Food or Drinks Allowed in this Courtroom” one declares.  “DO NOT ENTER UNLESS YOUR NAME IS CALLED” screams another.  If a citizen dares to enter the courtroom he or she has paid for many times over with their taxes – what would happen?  Would the altar of justice be rendered unclean by an unindicted citizen’s presence?  Would it have to be then reconsecrated to the gods of justice, Crook County-style?   No children are allowed to cry or call out to a parent, sister or brother they see being brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and prison rags: “Children must be kept quiet or you will be asked to leave!”  Surely Martin Luther King would endorse all this! A child crying out at seeing her father for perhaps the first time in months or even years would be cast out of the room by the “honorable” Judge Wilson!  Such is justice in Crooked Crook County, USA, run for the past 100 years by the “lesser evil” Democratic Party!  Everything is crooked about this place: the huge cockroaches at the jail skitter crookedly across the floors and the walls; even the birds flying over this place seem to fly sideways.  Let’s not even mention the crooked guards!

While we waited for Jared’s case to be called an attorney emerged from the courtroom into the spectators’ seating area to converse with his client, who was seated among us.  They openly discussed their strategy right there where it could be heard by all the court employees and the judge via the intercom system connecting both rooms.  There is no private place in this courthouse for attorneys and their clients to discuss their cases!  The image of Martin Luther King gazes pensively down from the wall of Judge Wilson’s courtroom upon this farce.  If only that portrait could come to life to tell Judge Wilson what it thinks about the monstrous scenes that have played out in that courtroom under its eyes day after day after brutal day!

Finally, at around 10:32 AM, Jared Chase is led into the courtroom.  As he enters, I stand up in solidarity.  “SIT DOWN!” bellows the “Honorable” Judge Thaddeus Wilson.

Chase is a big guy; 6 feet tall, perhaps a bit more.  Thinnish but well-muscled in his brownish v-necked prison shirt and matching brown pants, he looks as healthy as can be expected – given the circumstances of his confinement in a hellhole Illinois state prison in Pontiac – to me, who has never seen him before.  But to his friends he “looks very thin and gaunt, and his health is visibly not well.”

Chase stands erect, calm and collected; his hands are not manacled but I can’t see his feet.

There is some preliminary chatter between the judge, prosecutor and Jared’s Public Defender Benesh.  Then Benesh asks the judge for a court order to prevent Chase’s being manacled with what is called a “black box”.

"Black Box" restraint. Used to attach chains from leg irons to wrist cuffs and chain waist belt.

“Black Box” restraint. Used to attach chains from leg irons to wrist cuffs and chain waist belt.

This high-security restraint is usually only used for the most dangerous inmates: murderers and terrorists.  In spite of the fact that all of the “terrorism charges” that the government had brought against the NATO 3 were repudiated by the jury in the original trial, Chase is still being periodically subjected to this abuse by the prison screws when they transfer him to court for trial.

Benesh is asking the judge for a “court order” prohibiting the use of the “black box” on Chase.  He states that there is an existing doctors’ order that these restraints not be used on Chase due to his suffering from Huntington’s Disease, which causes sufferers to shake uncontrollably.  This shaking, combined with the harsh restraints, has been found to be causing injury to Chase, Benesh explains.  The use of harsh restraints “cuts off circulation” of blood in Chase’s hands.

Who do you want me to order to stop using the restraints?” asks Judge Wilson?

Benesh appears to be somewhat taken aback by the question.

“Who do you want the court order to be issued to?  Eye-Doc?” asks the judge again, indicating the acronym for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), as if to prompt Benesh… who appears to fumble for an answer.

“In terms of transport…” Benesh begins to reply.  “We are asking that the least restrictive means possible should be used.”  He describes a less physically punishing type of restraint known to be used by IDOC.

Judge Wilson advises Benesh to “talk to IDOC… I am not in a position to order such a thing.  You can file a Federal lawsuit against IDOC if they are not following doctors’ recommendations.  If it’s within my authority I’ll do it.  I don’t know of any need for extra security.  But just based on oral statements  I’m not going to do anything.”

It appeared that Benesh was unprepared to properly ask Judge Wilson for a court order, having not submitted to the court any legal document for the judge to review and sign!  Not only that, but Benesh seemed uncertain who it was that he wanted the judge to order to stop using the “black box” restraint!  Unbelievably poor preparation for the hearing by Benesh – not at all atypical for the Public Defenders here in the “Land of the Free(TM)”.

It’s pretty outrageous that the Public Defender’s Office had their client dragged in chains all the way to Cook County Jail from the dungeon at Pontiac Correctional Center – a distance of 100 miles – so they could challenge the state’s use of cruel restraints used when he is transported from jail to court and back, causing physical harm to him – and then the PD wasn’t even prepared to properly ask for and obtain the court order necessary to get the chains removed!  Sadly, this kind of third-rate legal defense for the poor is common, not only in Crooked Crook County but all over the USA – and in all the “advanced” countries of the capitalist world.

Benesh then asked for a status hearing to be set for March 23rd.  He appeared not to have submitted any requests for discovery of evidence such as videos of the alleged physical altercations between Chase and prison guards that led to the present assault on a prison officer charges against Chase.

The judge agrees to set a status hearing for March 23rd at 9AM and for the trial to begin on April 11th of 2016.  Chase is dismissed and I stand up again in solidarity as he leaves; and I and all Chase’s friends and supporters leave the courtroom.

Moments later Public Defender Benesh comes out into the hallway and I introduce myself and ask him for his business card.  He says “no problem” and goes back into the courtroom to take care of some other legal business.  After a few minutes he comes back out again, accompanied by a female colleague, and I ask him a few questions.

I had heard from one of Chase’s supporters that there might be video evidence available in this case.  Is Benesh aware of any?  “Not that I’m aware of; and I don’t know if it would be helpful or not if there was” he replied.  Surprised at his answer I ask “really?  No videos at all?”  (There are cameras all over the jails).  “No I don’t know of any”.  “Have you asked if there was any such evidence through the discovery process?” “No.” he replied.

“The next hearing on March 23rd; will Jared have to appear in court again for that?” I ask.  “Yes, he’ll be appearing at all of the hearings”.  This is a real ordeal for Chase, who has to come, shackled, all the way from Pontiac to Chicago, especially considering his health.

“What is the specific offense Chase is charged with and what are the potential penalties?” I inquire.

“He is charged with ‘aggravated battery to a corrections officer’, which is a ‘Class I’ offense, punishable by 4-15 years in prison” Benesh replies.  Very serious, indeed.  (For a description of the incident as related in a letter from Chase to a supporter, click here).

I ask Benesh if he has been on the case from the beginning of the NATO 3 trial; he says: “I just got this case two weeks ago from my colleague in the Public Defender’s Office.  I had nothing to do with the earlier case; this case has nothing to do with the original one”.  But of course, this is not true at all!  This case has EVERYTHING to do with the earlier case; Chase is a political prisoner who was framed up by undercover cops in the first place!  If that frame-up hadn’t been successful, this assault case would never have occurred!

This is what we meant earlier in this article when we spoke of the danger of having inexperienced defense attorneys who do not understand the difference between a typical criminal case and one involving a political frame-up.  This lawyer appears to be unaware of the very political nature of the charges his client is facing.  “Business as usual”; just another assault case in the hideously overloaded docket of the vastly understaffed and underfunded Public Defender’s office.

It’s too bad that the crew of “Free the NATO 3” supporters didn’t bother to talk to this new defense attorney for their comrade!  They had all just walked away from the courtroom without even bothering to talk to their comrade’s new lawyer!

It was not a very impressive performance by the “Free the NATO 3” defense campaign.

Later on that evening, I checked the “Free the NATO 3” WordPress site to obtain more background information about the case and to see if they had written a report about the hearing; commendably, as we stated above, they had. Their article criticises that I stood up in solidarity with Chase as he was led into the courtroom: “While prisoner supporters have employed the tactic often to stand up when the defendant’s name is called in various cases, Judge Thadeus [sic – IWPCHI] Wilson issued an injunction in the NATO 3 case preventing supporters from doing so, and does not respond kindly to this. So please remain seated when Jay’s name is called, as protest tactics or standing up only backfires on Jay.”

This expresses quite clearly the touching faith that these so-called “anarchists” have in the “impartiality” of the US capitalist “justice” system!

The “Free the NATO 3” website operated by these folks appears to offer a decent amount of information about the case – including copies of Judge Wilson’s outrageous piece-of-shit injunction against displays of class solidarity for political prisoners who appear in “his” courtroom.  Unfortunately, the amateurishness of the anarcho-reformists reared its ugly head again when we tried to download a copy of this fine example of legal treachery; we received a “404- File Not Found” error.  We left a message on that page so the website admins could fix the problem; checking it again today a week later, we found that it has still not been corrected.  We left another message, for what it’s worth.

***

This should serve as a warning to young activists trying to decide between joining a revolutionary socialist organization or a more loosely organized “anarchist” or other activist group.  It a choice between joining a party of organized, disciplined revolutionaries who will know how to avoid a cheap police entrapment scheme and defend you if you get framed up on bogus charges or joining a group that will fall right into a trap set by a pair of half-assed Police Explorers who infiltrate their organization on the first try.  In a revolutionary socialist party, youth members are taught about the history of police entrapment schemes; internal party discipline requires them to report provocations like the one launched against the NATO 3 defendants to party leaders, who know how to deal with these things properly.  It would be almost impossible for this kind of entrapment scam to ensnare a youth member of a revolutionary Trotskyist party; for amateur “activist” and “anarchist” organizations, this is not the case.  So choose wisely when you choose the revolutionary political organization you want to join.

***

One last glimpse of the “justice” that takes place in the “Honorable” Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson’s judicial chamber of horrors:

A tall, well-groomed black man in a new winter jacket stands calmly before the dais upon which Judge Wilson sits.  A few feet to his  right, a middle-aged, stooped blonde white female Assistant District Attorney is trying to make this man look like Capone times ten.  She rattles off a seemingly endless number of arrests and convictions for petty offenses this man has suffered all his life for the “crime” of being a black man living in Democratic Party-run Crooked Crook County.  She chatters on: case after case, from the 1990s to the present.  Only after she has made it up to June of 2008 does the “Honorable” Judge Wilson stop her, saying tiredly: “That’s enough.  I get the picture”.

Perhaps it was a trick of the light, refracted through the smoked glass barrier of the courtroom… but we swear we saw the left hand of Dr. King move in front of his eyes; his shoulders seemed to heave spasmodically.  He appeared to be crying.

Thanks to the poor defense work today by Atty. Peter Benesh of the Crook County Public Defender’s Office, Jared Chase will once again most likely by dragged in chains – including the “black box” apparatus that is causing him physical harm – from Pontiac “Correctional” Center to Crook County Courthouse for his next status hearing on March 23; his trial is scheduled to begin on April 11.

— IWPCHI

 

 

 

 

 

US, UK Governments: Hands Off Julian Assange and WikiLeaks!

There have been new developments today in the case of Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blower group WikiLeaks.

The government of Ecuador has granted Assange – who is now living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – asylum and permission to move to Ecuador, where he will be free to continue to fight extradition charges to Sweden that might end up placing him in the hands of the US government.   Members of the US Government – Republicans and Democrats – have branded Assange and his supporters everything from “terrorists” to “a clear and present danger to America” who should be prosecuted under the draconian Espionage Act of 1917 , which has been used to imprison US activists and politicians who opposed the military draft during wartime.  One of the act’s first victims was Eugene Debs, one of the founders of the International Workers of the World (IWW) , who had broken the law by making a speech in Canton, Ohio in 1918 in which he “urg[ed] resistance to the military draft.  This was not a crime, but an act of heroic defense of the interests of the working class internationally; nevertheless, the US government obtained a conviction and sentenced him to 10 years in prison, 5 of which he served.   So much for the US’ vaunted Bill of Rights and “Freedom of Speech”!  When push comes to shove, the Bill of Rights isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, especially when the US capitalist class has war profiteering on its mind!  In wartime especially – and remember, the “War on Terror” is a war that will never end – the “Bill of Rights” gets run through a shredder and wall-to-wall censorship becomes the order of the day.

The Obama administration has unleashed the Justice Dept. bloodhounds to track down whistleblowers at all costs in order to keep the worlds largest closet full of skeletons locked up tight. The Democrats – who like to call themselves the “friends of labor” – thus expose themselves once again to the entire world as being actually among the greatest enemies of labor, not just in the US but internationally!

Assange is in an extremely difficult position, as he has been facetiously indicted by Swedish authorities with various sex crimes under circumstances that clearly indicate that the charges are being made as part of a concerted effort to crush Wikileaks by imprisoning its founder on false charges.    He was in the UK fighting his extradition to Sweden on multiple grounds and due to the strong belief  – shared by many human rights lawyers – that the Swedish charges are simply a pretext to bring Assange to Sweden, at which time Sweden will turn him over to US authorities, who wish to prosecute Assange – an Australian national – under US espionage laws.  The US government has been howling for Assange’s blood for years, furious at him and his organization for repeatedly exposing US corporate crimes as well as US military war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Wikileaks’ release of over 250,000 secret emails from the US State Department as well as their publication of the leaked Afghan and Iraq War Logs, the distribution via Internet of a US Defense Department video of a US helicopter crew slaughtering civilians in Iraq, all aroused US government hatred and the allegation that the documents and video were “stolen” by former US Army intelligence operative Bradley Manning (who is now being held by the US military under conditions that amount to torture) and handed over to Wikileaks, in violation of US law.

As representatives of the working class of the world, we see these cases differently: “stealing” secret US government documents – which are kept secret only in order to hide the true nature of the hypocrisy and savagery of the US government from the working class of the United States – and publicly exposing them to the light of day is a tremendous service to the working class internationally and especially in the US.  We do not see this as a crime, we see it as a heroic act of solidarity with the working class against the bloodthirsty US capitalist class and their bought-and-paid-for government.  The phoniness of the US’ sham “democracy” is nowhere better illustrated than in the texts of the State Department cables, where candid “secret” US government assessments of the US governments “allies” around the globe are exposed as showing the vast gulf that exists between the US’ government’s public statements and what the denizens of “Foggy Bottom” really think.  Exposing the duplicity of US “diplomats” who hide the bloody designs of the US ruling capitalist class behind velvety phrases created to blind the workers of the world to the true nature of US imperialism is a revolutionary act of heroism that might save the lives of millions of workers caught in the cross-hairs of – or economically drafted directly into the service of – the US war machine!

Likewise, WikiLeaks’ acquisition and public display of the US war crimes video dubbed “Collateral Murder” tears the mask off the State Department’s obscene claim that the United States’ military invasion and occupation of Iraq is intended to bring “democracy” to the people of Iraq.  This video clearly shows the typical depravity of US soldiers after years of brainwashing by the US Military into believing that all Iraqis are “the enemy” and can be slaughtered with impunity.  It shows how just a few years in the US military can turn a nice 18 year old youth into a murderous thug who kills men, women and children as if they were just animated figures in a video game.

The Independent Workers Party calls on the workers of the world to defend WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and all the brave people who seek to expose the vast and sordid history of US War Crimes and the US capitalist class’ systematic robbery and mass murder of workers all over the world.  Protests should immediately be called to march to the UK’s embassies wherever they exist and to make clear the outrage the workers of the world feel at seeing the UK government’s brutal attacks on Mr. Assange and their flagrant flouting of international law by outrageously stating their intent to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to seize Mr. Assange and deport him to Sweden.

This entire case shows how far the supposedly hallowed “rights” of “freedom of speech” actually protect a citizen of a capitalist country like England or the US.   Human rights in bourgeois democracies like these only exist so long as the people exercising their rights do not come into direct conflict with the basic functioning of the capitalist system.  The moment a worker goes out on strike or starts to oppose military recruitment – or even tries to tell the truth about what is being done secretly by a capitalist government in the name of the citizens of that nation – it’s “goodbye “Bill of Rights”, hello jail!” – or worse.

This is why we must organize a working class party here in the US to create a coherent movement that fights against every attempt by the capitalist class to revoke even the smallest shred of the Bill of Rights.  The attempt by successive US governments – led by Republicans and Democrats – to gag whistleblowers who heroically fight to get the truth out to the world about what horrible crimes are being committed by US corporations and the US government must be fought by the working class of the US with all our might.  Today they attack Julian Assange and Bradley Manning and their supporters – tomorrow they will come after you, and your friends and your supporters!  Your unions!  Your political organizations!  This might look to you, today, to be “someone else’s fight”; but if you allow yourselves to be fooled into believing that, you can be assured that tomorrow, it will be YOUR ASS that will be in the sling!

Workers of the World, Unite!  UK, US Government hands off Julian Assange and WikiLeaks!  Free Bradley Manning!

IWPCHI