CHICAGO — Attorneys for three men arrested and indicted on terrorism charges in connection to planned mayhem at last year’s NATO summit called for those charges to be dropped Friday.
Prosecutors allege in court documents that the three traveled from Florida and made a variety of plans to stir up trouble during the NATO summit.
They allegedly made Molotov cocktails and planned attacks on President Barack Obama’s campaign nerve center, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and other targets, according to court records.
A motion filed Friday by lawyers for the defendants contends the terrorism charges are based on vague definitions of “terrorism” and “terrorist act” from an Illinois law passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001.
“The state improperly exploited these unconstitutionally vague terms to bring these highly inflammatory ‘terrorism’ charges in order to prejudice the defendants, discredit the anti-NATO demonstrators, and justify the enormous costs of the security tactics of the Chicago police during the NATO summit,” the defendants’ motion reads.
The statute defines terrorism in part as “intent to intimidate or coerce a significant portion of a civilian population,” according to the motion.
Michael Deutsch, of the People’s Law Office, who represents Church, said Friday there is no evidence that any of the defendants intimidated or coerced any segment of the population, and that those definitions in the law are overly vague.
“What does it mean to intimidate a significant portion of the population?” Deutsch said after the hearing Friday. “This has never been a terrorism case.”
The state’s definition of terrorism is so vague that it sweeps up much innocent and protected conduct, according to the motion.
That foggy definition allowed the state to “demonize” the defendants as terrorists based on their political ties and political motivations, as well as the “predilections of the police and prosecutors.”
The motion also contends that the arrests and charges were part of a plan to frighten people away from “a massive non-violent anti-NATO protest.”