Updated #NATO3 Trial Decorum Order

In addition to the Sheriff’s Department press release regarding procedure for registering to attend the upcoming NATO 3 trial, Judge Wilson has released a revised, comprehensive Decorum Order regarding conduct in and around the courtroom.

The full Trial Decorum Order is available as PDF here.


#NATO3 Trial Attendance Guidelines Announced

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has issued a press release regarding public access to the NATO 3 trial, which is set to begin on Tuesday, January 21st.

The full text is copied below or available as a PDF here.

The highlights:

  • Members of the general public will be allowed to bring pen and paper to court to take notes, but no bags, purses, or similar items will be allowed. Additionally, cell phones are not permitted for the general public inside Cook County Courthouses.
  • Anyone wishing to attend the trial will be required to sign up one business day in advance and submit to a background check looking for warrants and orders of protection against anyone involved in the trial. You may sign up with a photo ID in the lobby of the courthouse at 26th and California between 2 and 5pm each day.

Full text:

Sheriff’s Office Announces Spectator Sign-Up Procedure for People VS. Church, Chase & Betterly

Members of the general public who wish to observe the upcoming People VS. Church, Chase & Betterly Criminal trial will be required to register for a seat in advance, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office announced today.

The trial is set to begin Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2650 S. California Ave., Chicago. The defendants are Brian Church, 22, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Jared Chase, 25, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Betterly, 25, of Oakland Park, Florida. The three men were charged in the days prior to the May 2012 NATO Summit that was held in Chicago. All three defendants face the following charges: four counts possession of an incendiary device; one count providing material support for terrorism; one count conspiracy to commit terrorism; and one count solicitation to commit arson.

Seating for the general public is limited, but will be available each day court will be in session. All seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

All members of the general public interested in viewing the trial must sign up in person in the lobby of the Criminal Courthouse the day before they wish to be in court. To sign up, interested parties must register their name with a Court Deputy in the lobby of the courthouse between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. for the next day’s court session. For example, if you wish to observe the trial on a Wednesday, you must come to the courthouse on Tuesday to add your name to the list. Individuals are not allowed to register anyone other than themselves. Each spectator must present a valid, government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license, a state ID, or passport.

Anyone wishing to observe the trial on a Monday is required to register the Friday before.

As this trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, and Monday, Jan. 20 is a court holiday, the first day of Spectator Registration will be on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Spectators are reminded to arrive one hour prior to the start of trial daily. This will allow ample time to pass through the main courthouse security area as well as complete the check-in process outside the trial courtroom before being seated. All spectators are required to be seated in the trial courtroom 20 minutes prior to the start of trial each day.

Spectators will not be allowed to bring cell phones, bags, packages, briefcases, purses, or boxes of any kind into the trial courtroom or wear any type of clothing with prejudicial or inflammatory logos, per the Judge’s Decorum Orders.

Anyone who causes a disruption, outburst, noise, or distraction will be immediately removed from the trial courtroom. Any violation may result in the violator being held in contempt of court and/or being subject to monetary sanctions according to Illinois civil and criminal law.

Introducing… #OpValentine 2014!

#OpValentine wall art

As many of you know, #OpPenPal began as #OpValentine approximately one year ago, when a group of activists banded together to encourage the people of the interwebz to send love via snail mail to our imprisoned comrades for Valentine’s day. (Not to buy in to the corporate holiday, but to use it as an excuse to shed light on those who most need our love and support.) We were amazed at the enthusiastic response and decided to keep the project going year-round.

Through the past year we’ve seen friends arrested, convicted, and sentenced – but also some who had charges dropped, won cases and, when very lucky, have been freed. It’s been an incredible journey and we appreciate everyone who has joined us along the way.

We have great plans for expanding our prisoner support efforts in 2014 and we hope everyone reading this will continue to play an active role. In the meantime: the next month is dedicated to #OpValentine!


Being a part of #OpValentine is easy:

1) To find a prisoner (or multiple prisoners) to write to, simply take a look at our mailing list, or check out lists posted by other groups such as the Denver ABC or Black and Pink.

2) Send your selected prisoner(s) a postcard, valentine, or letter. Keep in mind that fun things like stickers, glitter, and glue/tape are considered contraband in many facilities. Be creative and find ways to make your cards and letters bright and cheerful without such add-ons.

3) Some suggestions: Prisoners love hearing news, local updates, funny stories, or pretty much anything interesting. They also love photos, so feel free to include some (printed on regular computer paper), or use an approved service like FlikShop or FotoPigeon.

4) Tweet photos of your valentines to us at @OpPenPal using the hashtag #OpValentine to help us build a photo gallery. (See last year’s badass gallery here.) All photos will be reposted anonymously and without attribution.

5) Tell all your friends!

So much love!

Think of this as a backward compatible interweb solidarity action. A snail mail DDoS of prison mail rooms across the country, if you will. For the next month let us commit to flooding these soulless facilities with messages of love, hope, support and solidarity. Every letter makes a difference. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

We do not forgive injustice.
We do not forget our imprisoned comrades.
Expect Mail. Lots of it.

#NATO3 Trial is Approaching – UPDATES

Free the NATO 3

Today was the first day of jury selection for the NATO 3 trial. Opening statements for the trial are expected to begin on Tuesday, January 21st.

The prosecution also dropped two “unlawful use of weapons” charges this morning. The defendants will now face a total of nine counts at trial instead of eleven.

We will post daily updates as the trial gets underway. In the meantime, you can help by donating to the NATO 3 defense fund.

Send the NATO 3 a card or note today to let them know we stand in solidarity as they fight these charges:

Brent Betterly
PO Box 089002
Chicago IL 60608

Brian Church
PO Box 089002
Chicago IL 60608

Jared Chase
PO Box 089002
Chicago IL 60608

[NOTE: Two defendants in separate but related cases accepted non-cooperating plea agreements which allowed them to be released before their trials would have even started. The remaining three defendants face more serious charges and are proceeding to trial after being held in Cook County Jail for the past 20 months.]