Thousands protested in the streets of downtown Chicago on Sunday May 20 while the NATO Summit unfolded at McCormick Place.
With most eyes on that, another key development flew under the radar, as explained in the lede sentence of a story appearing in The Chicago Tribune: “Two more men have been charged with planning to make explosives to be used during the NATO summit” at the Circuit Court of Cook County. Another man, according to a press release received by Truthout from the National Lawyer’s Guild (NLG) Chicago, “was charged with felony aggravated battery on a police officer …”
The former two had been held for 66-68 hours before receiving their charges, while the latter individual was arrested on the afternoon of Sunday May 20. Of the former two activists, the NLG Chicago wrote they “were held for far longer than their constitutional right to go before a judge within 48 hours,” in a press release.
The NLG was unable to visit one of the activists until the morning of his bond hearing. The other activist was held for 66 hours before his hearing and was denied medical treatment, even though sick, during his detention. This activist “was taken to the hospital at least three times during that period for vomiting and pain, but was not properly treated for his medical condition … [and] on several occasions [he] was forced to choose between seeing his attorney and going to the hospital,” explained the NLG.
Furthermore, the NLG also released the photograph of one of the two police informants allegedly responsible for the entrapment of the “NATO 3,” currently going by the pseudonym “Mo.” The photo was taken of his “arrest” during the house raid and seizure of the initial nine activists in town for the NATO summit by the Chicago Police Department. He was one of the two – out of the eleven total at the house – never held at the police station.
Identifying photographs of the other informant, going by the name “Gloves,” have yet to be made public.
“We do have pictures of ‘Gloves,’ but they’re not clear enough to make a positive identification,” NLG legal worker Kris Hermes told Truthout in an interview. “We understand they’re both in their 30s, but we’re not sure of their age.”
National Lawyers Guild Believes Charges are Farcical
The names of the three men charged with these serious felonies are 28-year-old Mark Nieween and 24-year-old Sebastian Senakiewicz, both of Chicago, as well as 23-year-old Taylor Hall, described by the NLG as an independent journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nieween is being held on a $500,000 bond, Senakiewicz on a $750,000 bond and Hall on a $250,000 bond.
Senakiewicz was “was arrested Thursday afternoon without incident at his home,” wrote the Tribune. He “stated he has two homemade explosives that can blow up half of an overpass for a train and is holding them until NATO,” reads the court report. The report also explains that Senakiewicz had intentions to “detonate the explosives … in a hollowed out Harry Potter book at his residence.”
How the intelligence was gathered goes unexplained in the report, and a search of his home did not yield any of the alleged explosives.
Nieween, meanwhile, was arrested and charged because he “engaged 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 provided to the Tribune. The device? A PVC “pipe bomb,” according to his court documents.
Again, how the intelligence was gathered goes unexplained in the report. Unlike for Senakiewicz, a search of Nieween’s home was never even performed.
As with the original “NATO 3” protesters slapped with charges of “conspiring to commit domestic terrorism during the NATO summit” by the Circuit Court of Cook County, the NLG believes the terrorism charges are farcical in nature.
“These additional charges related to terrorism are sensational, politically motivated and meant to spread fear and intimidation among people protesting the NATO summit,” said NLG attorney Sarah Gelsomino in a press release. “The city has still not produced any actual evidence of criminal activity or any weapons, though prosecutors have callously made several serious criminal allegations.”
The NLG believes the case against Hall is also a sham. “There is no evidence of the battery he is being charged with,” Hermes told Truthout. “There was some interaction with a bicycle cop, but haven’t seen any evidence of the battery.”
How the Arrests Unfolded
The arrests of Nieween, Senakiewicz and Hall differed greatly in form.
“Mark’s arrest was videotaped or photographed because he was walking out of a restaurant and was jumped on by more than 15 police officers in a snatch and grab, while Sebastian was taken from his home,” Hermes told Truthout.
The Tribune’s account of the arrest reads, “On Thursday afternoon … Chicago police officers stormed through [the] front door [of the place he was staying] … Police made their way through the home and arrested Senakiewicz.”
Police records obtained by The Chicago Tribune said that Taylor had “grabbed a bicycle from a police officer, lifted it and forced it against the officers body.”
A Profile of the Charged Activists
The two Chicago-based activists facing “terrorism” charges, who go by the aliases “Sabi” and “Migs,” are described in court documents as “anarchists” and possible members of the “Black Bloc” – although, as the Chicago Sun-Times and others have explained, Black Bloc is a tactic, not a group.
Both “Sabi” and “Migs” had past criminal records. “Sabi” plead guilty in September 2008 to underage drinking, a misdemeanor crime; forked over a $370 fine; and was sentenced to four months of court supervision, which he completed. “Migs” “is on probation for punching a Chicago police officer in 2010 after authorities tried to question someone they thought was drunk and unresponsive,” wrote the Tribune. “Prosecutors are trying to revoke his probation, saying he didn’t do the required community service, according to records. A judge has yet to decide.”
“Senakiewicz had been staying with a family friend, David Griffiths, for about seven or eight weeks at his Northwest Side home,” wrote the Tribune. “Griffiths, who said he is best friends with Senakiewicz’s mother and stepfather who live in Florida, allowed him to stay in his home and do odd jobs for cash. [He] said Senakiewicz is broke and unemployed.”
Less information seems to have been gathered about “Migs,” other than the fact he has an anarchist “A” tattooed on his arm.
At the time this story was written, only The Chicago Tribune had bothered to mention Hall had even been arrested.
Hall appears to be active in Occupy Pittsburgh. A look at his Facebook page shows photos of multiple Occupy-related arrests and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mentions he was one of five activists arrested in a late-March action. His Twitter account shows he has been active in live-streaming Occupy-related protest events, as well.
He is also an independent journalist/blogger writing for the blog web site, The Rustbelt.*
“He’s a journalist,” said Sarah Gelsomino of the NLG. “He is not a threat to society.”
“Mo” and “Gloves” Are the “Thread” Among All Five
When push comes to shove, Hermes and the NLG believe “Mo” and “Gloves” are the “thread” among all five activists charged with plotting acts of domestic “terrorism.”
“The thread between all five was the informants that we believe were provoking criminal activity,” said Hermes to Truthout. “We believe it was the same two informants, which has been ascertained from the arrestees.”
The original “NATO 3” will have their pre-trial hearing on Tuesday May 22; “Sabi” and “Migs” on Wednesday, May 23; and Hall on May 25.