Hours before their fellow arrestees were pinned with terrorism charges, and only a few hours after they were released from solitary confinement, some of the activist arrested in a Wednesday evening raid on a Chicago home were happy to be eating something that wasn’t the baloney sandwichs offered in lock-up.
Daniel Murphy, Robert LaMorte, Daniel Annussek and Vic, who asked that she only be referred to by her first name, are sitting on the ground against the brick wall of a jail on Chicago’s Westside. Both Daniels and Vic were released early Friday morning – LaMorte walked out of his holding cell later that day.
“Damn, they smell so bad. Give me some f-ing baloney,” said Murphy, from New York City, holding up a chips and a container of hummus. Murphy has black hair, nearly shoulder-length, that he compulsively sweeps back with his hand, and grins continually.
Vic, sitting next to him, wears a vest with a patch saying: “2012 Candidate: Nobody” and a black bandana with red cherries on it. The group is friendly, but a little apprehensive: anyone that approaches them with a camera or a notepad is asked who they are documenting for.
Robert LaMorte is skinny, blond and wears a camouflage jacket, with a German flag arm band. He says that unlike the other activists who were picked up by the Chicago Police Department when they raided a home in the Bridgeport neighborhood, he was going to the convenience story when police arrested him.
Other Occupiers milled, sitting on the ground in small groups at the jail. Only blocks away were scores of foreclosed homes, and the flood lights from news cameras parked across the street trained on the rag-tag groups gathering to support the three activists still detained gave the place an unearthly glow for 10 at night.
Altogether, nine people were arrested in the raid and let out in groups of 2 and 3. On Saturday, three activists – Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly – being called the “NATO 3,” are being charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism, and possession of an explosive incendiary device.
But the atmosphere on Friday evening, before the charges were announced, was one of palpable relief. The group discussed the raid on Wednesday evening with some disbelief.
“They kicked in the door with gun drawn, over 2 dozen of them,” said Vic.
Murphy laughed, remembering that they were getting ready for bed when the raid happened: “Don’t you dare cuddle up together, we’ll get your ass in jail.”
Then the activists say they were moved into the organized crime division of a jail, and soon after into solitary confinement, where they say they spent 18 hours.
“The moment we got there, we were put into solitary. We were yelling to each other, trying to keep morale up,” said Vic, who says she was shackled to a bench by both a hand and a leg. “I was like a f-ing ape in their, jumping up and down.”
She also says they endured taunts from the officers – “calling us junkies, calling us terrorists” – and that even using the bathroom was humiliating as the door was held open by a female officer, but there were male officers just down the hall as well.
Annussek, who has been following the ping-pong of the conversation silently, said he “had to go to the bathroom in shackles. I felt like I was in Gitmo.”
A press release from the National Lawyer’s Guild said that when they met with the detained activists, “they were in low spirits, confused about why they were arrested and shackled at both their hands and feet at the meeting. No charges have been filed against them almost 24 hours after their arrest and an Illinois States Attorney at the station refused to meet with the NLG lawyers.”
All 6 of the activists were released without charge.
“I didn’t know what time of day it was,” said Vic of her imprisonment. “That’s what solitary confinement is for, it’s torture.”
Then, LaMorte said that Friday evening: “they just opened the door and said – are you staying or leaving?”
And just like that, he was out in the balmy night air, on the other side of the wall. But still inside were the NATO 3, whose story was developing.
Update: Michael Deutsch, with the People’s Law Office, told reporters Thursday that two of the arrested activists were undercover police agents. It is still unconfirmed which activists these are, and so some quotes in this story may be from undercover officers.
Update: TruthOut published this article before knowing the identity of the two police informants, “Mo” and “Gloves,” which we revealed in a later article published on May 21.