NATO protests: Authorities create ‘terrorist’ narrative to sensationalize demonstrations

It’s as old as protest itself: Find some useful idiots, cajole them into making weapons, then brand them “terrorists.” Authorities must rather enjoy the ease with which they can unfold their little plots.

In Chicago, a NATO summit is going into its second day. For the third day, anti-NATO protesters, some of which are associated with the Occupy movement, have been demonstrating against the summit, of which President Obama is an attendee.

According to the Chicago Police, three protesters were arrested last Wednesday and charged for conspiring to make incendiary devices (molotov cocktails as well as a pipe bomb). The suspects are Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Betterly, 24, from Massachusetts.

“The men had been making Molotov cocktails out of empty beer bottles filled with gasoline and fitted with cut bandannas for fuses,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Anti-NATO protesters, on the other hand, claim that the equipment found was for beer-making not for explosives.

“The charges are utterly ridiculous. The Chicago Police Department doesn’t know the difference between home beer-making supplies and Molotov cocktails,” said Natalie Wahlberg, a member of the Occupy Chicago movement.

Two other protesters were also charged with “terrorist” activities, Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, of Chicago, and Mark Neiweem, 28. Chicago Police state that Senakiewicz “had been planning/conspiring with more than two other individuals in the building of explosives, including molotov cocktails which were to be used/detonated during the NATO summit.” Neiweem is accused of engaging “in dialogue with a subject, during which time he provided same subject with a list of ingredients that are used in the construction of an explosive device,” according to a police report. (“Subject” would be police infiltrator.)

It may well be that these useful idiots were making incendiary devices. That question will be settled by the courts. But is it possible that authorities seek these jackasses out not so much in a valiant fight against “terrorism” but in a cynical effort to paint protest movements as radically violent? It is, ironically, a more benign but no less disgusting form of domestic terrorism.

And, in a sense, whether the five young men conspired or not is irrelevant. The mere suggestion of terrorist intent is often enough to discredit a protest in the eyes of American citizens and government. Indeed, this is a subtle way of gradually linking American domestic protest with terrorism.

“This is a way to stir up prejudice against a people who are exercising their First Amendment (free speech) rights,” said Michael Deutsch, the trio’s lawyer. He contends that Chicago police planted the weapons at the scene. “There were undercover police officers that ingratiated themselves with people who come from out of town.”

To protesters across the country: peaceful, smart protest is to be desired. Do not give the state and its law enforcement authorities the leverage to paint a sensational narrative that will brainwash the masses.

The photo above is the alleged “incendiary device” made by the trio Church, Chase and Keene. It was released by the National Lawyers Guild which is defending the three young men.