Keene man among three anti-NATO protesters facing terrorism charges
CHICAGO - Three protesters arrested on terrorism-related charges ahead of today's NATO summit - including a man from New Hampshire - considered targeting President Barack Obama's reelection headquarters and the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to court documents released on Saturday.
The three men charged were listed as Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, N.H., Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Brent Betterly, 24, of Massachusetts.
The Chicago Police Department said the men, described as self-proclaimed anarchists and members of the 'Black Bloc' movement that disrupted international gatherings in the past, were arrested on Wednesday and charged on Friday with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive incendiary device.
A lawyer for the three, Michael Deutsch, said undercover police officers had entrapped his clients by infiltrating the group and encouraging the bomb-making effort.
A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department declined to comment on the tactics employed in the latest case.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office said the men also had weapons, including a mortar, knives and a hunting bow. It said they also considered attacking police stations and cars in Chicago to disrupt police operations in the two-day NATO summit.
Officials with the Obama campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment. On Saturday, several hundred activists protested outside Emanuel's home, but the event was peaceful.
At a hearing on Saturday, bail was set at $1.5 million for each of the three, who were arrested in a late-night raid at a residence in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago. Their next court appearance is Tuesday.
Chase has a brief criminal record in Keene, according to Sgt. Thaddeus Derendal of the Keene Police Department.
In June 2003, Chase was charged with attempt to commit an assault and reckless endangerment after allegedly pulling a knife on another man, Derendal said Saturday. The charges in that case were dismissed.
The following month, Chase was arrested for first-degree assault and conduct after an accident. In that incident, Chase was found guilty of hitting a man with a car after the two had a fist fight, Derendal said. The victim's impact with the car damaged the windshield, but the man was not seriously injured. Chase was fined $427 for the assault. The conduct after an accident charge was added because Chase drove off after striking the man. He served nine months in prison, Derendal said.
'We haven't had any incidents of a serious nature since then,' Derendal said.
After a seven-year span with no legal problems, Chase was picked up again in 2010 and put under protective custody for intoxication, Derendal said.
Chase's uncle, Michael Chase of Westmoreland, said he was awoken Saturday morning by a reporter telling him about the charges against his nephew.
'Seems outrageous and completely out of character for him. … He's no angel. He's not happy with the economy. Nobody is,' Michael Chase said.
Chase said he had spoken with his nephew last week and had expected to see him this week.
Jared's father died in March after a lengthy illness. Michael Chase said he has been keeping the father's remains and has been waiting for Jared to return to the area so the family could hold a funeral.
His parents were divorced. His father was living in South Carolina, and his mother lives in Maine, Michael Chase said.
There is no way the family can afford the $1.5 million bond, he said.
Jared Chase grew up in Hinsdale and Swanzey and attended both Keene High School and Monadnock High School, his uncle said.
Jared suddenly became political last fall.
'Before he joined the Occupy movement, he was working at a restaurant in Boston,'' Michael Chase said. 'I'm not sure what prompted him to join that. At that point, for whatever reason, he got himself really engrossed with the Occupy movement.
'He's never done anything like this. No activism, protesting or anything like that,'' Michael added. '. . . He really thought that was a worthwhile cause to align himself with, and he decided to do that.'
After he joined the Occupy movement, Jared left or lost his job, lost contact with his family and was living in a tent, Michael said. Occupy organizers fed him, his uncle said. 'That's what he told me, that they were basically providing him with food.'
Jared, though, also had his music. According to his uncle Jared is a gifted rapper and DJ.
'He did quite a lot of guest spots with some fairly famous rap people in New York,' Michael Chase said. 'He envisioned that at some point his rap music would take off and he would have supported himself with that. He really thought that was going to be his ticket, and for a long time, he just dedicated himself to rap.'
Jared Chase also loves video and computer games. 'He's an avid gamer. He built his own computer for gaming,' the uncle said.
In the past, Jared has had some minor run-ins with the law, Michael conceded.
'He's a good-hearted person, but he's stubborn,' his uncle said.
These charges, though, are unbelievable, he said.
Jared is being painted as a 'hardened criminal' who would not 'hesitate to do whatever it took,' his uncle said. 'But that's not the guy I know. He's funny. He wrote his own rap music.'
Michael Chase said Jared was arrested after a domestic dispute with a girlfriend in Los Angeles once. He did not hurt the girl, though; he hurt himself by breaking a window
Union Leader Correspondents Meghan Pierce and Julie Hanson contributed to this report.