by Sue BaskoUpdate August 29, 2013: Jason Hammond had a court date in Bridgeview, Illinois. His lawyer argued for a bail reduction. The Judge left the bail the same, but adequate funds had been raised, and Jason was freed and went home. He also entered a not guilty plea.
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"To know Jason is to have met one of the kindest most gentle people on earth. He's beautiful inside and out." - recent tweet by one of Jason Hammond's friends. That's how people know Jason Hammond -- as a sweetheart, a banjo player, a music teacher, a cartwheel-turner, a caring soul, a long-time volunteer at a food pantry for the hungry, and supporter of his twin brother, hacktivist Jeremy Hammond.
Jason Hammond of Chicago was recently arrested and charged in a violent attack that took place on Saturday, May 19, 2012, at around noon, against a group that was meeting in a restaurant in Tinley Park, Illinois, a suburb south of Chicago.
In this article, I am going to explore why Jason Hammond's guilt is unlikely, and what might be the real reasons behind this prosecution.
The group meeting at the suburban restaurant was said by the attackers to be a white racist group. They call themselves a European heritage group that meets near Irish festivals. Chicago's 2012 Irish Fest was held from May 25 -28, 2012, in Chicago Gaelic Park, in Oak Forest, Illinois. The festival site is 4 miles from the restaurant. The restaurant attack took place May 19, just days before the Irish Fest. The story that the group was a heritage group meeting before the Irish Fest seems to fit the facts. A tattooed woman around 40 years old had gone into the restaurant on Friday, May 18, just the day before the luncheon was to be held, to make the lunch reservation. While it seems a bit odd to show up in person to make a reservation, perhaps she wanted to check to see if it seemed like a suitable place for the meeting.
At least five of the men attacking the diners were members of a white anti-racist group called the Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement, or HARM, from Bloomington, Indiana. The in-your-face, menacing rhetoric on the group's website makes them seem eager to pounce. The group seems rather confused, because they call themselves "anti-fascists" on their website, and yet don't seem to realize that showing up at a restaurant and physically attacking diners with whom they disagree sounds fascist. The attackers came armed with batons, but their lawyers claim the defendants thought it was going to be a peaceful protest. There were about 10 people at the luncheon, and 15 to 18 attackers, depending on the report. A car full of 5 attackers from HARM were caught within minutes after the attack, when the car they were in was pulled over by a police car. The five men took non-cooperating plea bargains in January, 2013, and were sentenced to 3 1/2 to 6 years in prison, with day for day time off for good behavior and credit for the 7 months already spent at Cook County Jail. One of the men wrote in an April 2013 blog post that being held in horrendous Cook County Jail was a deciding factor in making the plea. He wrote, "I feel as though only the Cook County Jail could ever make a person “ready to get to prison." Needless to say my conditions have improved greatly." Over a year later, Jason Hammond has been arrested as a sixth defendant, coincidentally just after his brother, Jeremy Hammond, a hacktivist, took a non-cooperating plea agreement in a federal computer crimes case.
May 19, 2012, the date of the restaurant attack, was during the week of the NATO summit protests in Chicago. It was a week of heavy police entrapment, of massive FBI raids on the homes of activists, of activists and independent media being stopped and harassed by squadrons of police and DHS, all set on the background of daily protests by locals supplemented by many who came from out of town to participate. That Saturday, May 19 2012, was a day filled with various protests in Chicago, gearing up for the big protest scheduled for Sunday, May 20, 2012.
In this backdrop, we are supposed to believe that Jason Hammond, a peaceful music teacher, left Chicago to join a baton-wielding mob from mid- Indiana, who had driven all the way to Chicago's south suburbs by noon to disrupt a luncheon scheduled just the day before, held by what appears to be an ad hoc group of people who may or may not be racists, and that Jason Hammond was not identified or caught for over a year, with the timing of his arrest coinciding with the plea deal made by his brother. Jason Hammond is being held on $100,000 cash bail with no bonding out. Note: In Illinois, there are no bondsmen, but the state itself bonds out defendants for 10% of their bail. In Jason's case, he is not being allowed the 10% bond, but is required to pay the full $100,000 in cash, which, of course, he cannot do. There is an arraignment and bail reduction hearing scheduled for late August 2013 in the courthouse in Bridgeview, Illinois, a suburb just southwest of Chicago.
Jason is the twin brother of Jeremy Hammond, who recently made a non-cooperating plea deal of up to 10 years in prison for hacking missions orchestrated by Sabu (Hector Monsegur), a former LulzSec hacker from New York City who had been arrested and immediately flipped. The Sabu-instigated tour de force was the hack on Stratfor, a private company that is run by former CIA agents and tries to be like a mini-CIA from the olden days. Stratfor has analysts who are trained in Cold War era techniques. The analyst recruits are taken out for spy play in an Austin, Texas park, where they are trained in how to blend in and not be noticed while observing the nearly imperceptible fake spy actions of their compatriot spy trainers. Wearing red pants, which are too noticeable, gets demerit points. Too much noticeable staring is also a no-go. Failing to spot the target means you flunk the fake spy school. Stratfor issues foreign intelligence analyst reports to its subscribers, who pay nicely for what they think is accurate insider information. Jeremy Hammond hacked the Stratfor emails, which were transmitted to Wikileaks, which dumped them online. Reading the hacked emails online is how I know about Stratfor's spy games in the parks; they are written of in detail.
Most people quote the Stratfor emails as if the contents are true and as evidence that the Stratfor activities pose great risks to our freedom. In court trials, there is an evidentiary rule that says hearsay evidence is not accepted for "the truth of the matter asserted," but rather for the fact that the speaker spoke it and may have believed it or may have had some other motivation for speaking it. A motivation to speak, other than to tell the truth, might be to impress, to trick, to coerce, to woo, to threaten, to entertain, or many other reasons. With the Stratfor emails, I do not accept, as many others do, their contents as valuable for the truth of the matter asserted, but as evidence of what the owners and leaders of Stratfor were writing to each other and to outsiders, for a variety of motivations. I think much of the contents of the Stratfor emails is posturing to try to make Stratfor seem more important, more involved in government activities than it may have been. Having read many of the emails, I perceive Stratfor as an underfunded pretend CIA, with braggadocio aging leaders trying to relive their glory days as CIA agents. They never were promoted to head the CIA, so they created their own little agency. They make claims, I think often wild claims, in their emails, because it makes them sound like knowledgeable insiders, rather than scratchy coots teaching eager young recruits how to be ersatz foreign intelligence agents by playing hide-and-go-seek in a park.
The Stratfor dump held many golden nuggets, such as inferences that the U.S. government has a secret sealed indictment of Julian Assange, and much more. Whether these assertions are true is debatable.
Among the Stratfor dump was a cache of credit card numbers of some of its subscribers. The second indictment of Barrett Brown accuses Brown of trafficking in access devices (passwords) by posting a link to the Stratfor dump, and thus to the cache of credit card info. It is highly unlikely Brown even knew the credit card cache was in the massive dump. To use a cliché, this is like a needle in a haystack.
The Barrett Brown second indictment raises a new legal concept: that one can be guilty of a crime for posting a hyperlink online to the fruits of a crime. To follow this logic, by extension, one would be guilty of a death threat if one posted a link to a death threat tweet made by a stranger, one would be guilty of possession and distribution of obscenity if one linked to an obscene picture, and by further extension, one might be guilty of disturbing the peace by linking to a youtube video showing such a disturbance. In fact, people were told they might be engaging in disseminating government secrets if they linked to or posted the Collateral Damage video released by Bradley Manning and Wikileaks. Current law and logic say a hyperlink is a way of pointing to some online information, rather than making the person posting the link a participant in the activity that was posted. The indictment of Barrett Brown indicates the federal government intends to equate posting a link with committing the underlying action or crime. This is akin to saying that if you are out on the street and see a crime, and point to it and say, "Look," this makes you guilty of the crime. A hyperlink is a way of pointing and telling people to look. Making online linking into a crime is an absolutely gigantic step in the U.S. law, and it is utterly shocking, unconstitutional, irrational, and many other negative adjectives, but such leaps are not unprecedented in the U.S. legal system. There is such a leap of connectedness in the accountability laws of several states, including Illinois.
Look at Illinois State criminal law, under which Jason Hammond has been charged. In Illinois law, there are the usual aiding and abetting types of criminal charges, wherein the actor actually assists in some way with the crime. Go one step further into vague connections and there are state and federal conspiracy laws, in which there is a plan by two or more people to commit some crime, and some step taken in furtherance of the plan. Such a plan can be "inherited" by those who later join the group. The plan never has to be possible to carry out. In many conspiracy cases, there is an undercover agent proposing an idea, such as making a bomb, wheedling others into making statements that sound, when taken out of context, as if they support the idea, and creating scenarios where a step is taken in furtherance of the act. In many such bomb conspiracy cases, it seems as if those entrapped had little involvement other than allowing a person talking trash to become part of their circle of friends. The trash talker is really an FBI agent setting them up. The social pragmatics of dealing with a troublesome new friend turn into criminal indictments. The entrapped then realize they should have been rude and rejected the trash-talking "friend" from the get-go.
Going one step further into the abyss, some states, including Illinois, have "accountability laws." When most people first hear about the Illinois accountability law, they dismiss the information as not possible. The law says, essentially, that if a person acts to assist the commission of a crime, he is responsible for all acts of all the people involved in the crime. For example, if someone in Illinois were to lend someone their car to go buy some marijuana illegally, and if instead, that person robs and kills the marijuana seller, then the person lending the car can be charged with robbery and murder. From the Illinois law: "When 2 or more persons engage in a common criminal design or agreement, any acts in the furtherance of that common design committed by one party are considered to be the acts of all parties to the common design or agreement and all are equally responsible for the consequences of those further acts." (Illinois Criminal Code 720 ILCS 5/5-2) In Illinois, if the person who killed the marijuana seller is, for some reason, not charged with the crime, or is acquitted, the person who lent the car can still be prosecuted and found guilty of murder. Does this sound logically wrong, incorrect, preposterous? This is how the Illinois criminal accountability law works.
So, under Illinois law, Jason Hammond did not need to be present at the restaurant to be charged with the violent attack; he need only have lent a car or gas money or given travel directions to someone talking recklessly about plans to mess with some racists. At that point, he becomes part of the plan and can be held accountable for everything that goes down. You don't believe this is possible? No one does when they first hear about the Illinois accountability law. Accountability laws have been abolished in most states. In Illinois, this law is the secret weapon of prosecutors and undercover entrapment agents.
I have no idea what evidence was presented to the Grand Jury in Jason Hammond's case. Grand juries are secret and not even the defendant or his attorney are allowed to attend. All the evidence in a grand jury is presented strictly from the point of view of the prosecution, no holds barred, with no checks and balances such as objections, checking to see if someone is telling the truth, checking the legality of searches, or other niceties one might like before being wrenched from one's family and job and jailed interminably in a hell hole on $100,000 bail. With the Illinois conspiracy and accountability laws, there need only be evidence connecting Jason Hammond with the attack in the most tenuous of ways. If he lent a car, or was a driver, or tagged along to what he thought was a peaceful protest, he might easily be charged equally with all the crimes that occurred in the attack.
Jason Hammond is the twin brother of Jeremy Hammond. Jeremy, who is likely the most gifted and prolific hacker in the U.S., hacked on an old laptop out of a little house in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago. Jeremy shared the house with many young activists and artists. Jeremy was known for wearing ratty clothes, dumpster diving for food, and being a politically motivated hacker.
At the 2004 Defcon, Jeremy gave a rousing, daring speech about hacking as a political tool. (Link to video here.) The 27-minute video gives a good idea of what Jeremy Hammond was like 9 years ago. He was young, brash, and said things meant as political theater and not to be taken seriously. Shortly into the talk, he casually tosses off a mention of smashing windows, but he has never been known to smash windows. Later in the talk, he promises to burn down the White House. That too, is obviously theatrical. He has never been known to burn anything. It's agitprop rhetoric. Having the video up for years on youtube may have done him more harm than good. Many people hear the words and accept them as true intentions, not as rhetorical character exposition that is supposed to make you think of Jeremy as a daring young man.
In 2004, when Jeremy Hammond spoke at Defcon, the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) applied mainly to interfering with government or banking computers. In 2008, the CFAA was amended to make the law applicable to any computer connected to the internet. Much of the hacking Jeremy Hammond described in 2004 would not have been illegal, but after 2008, it was not only illegal, but had severe penalties far out of proportion with the damage caused. It is unclear whether he was aware the law had changed, as many Hacktivists had been given incorrect legal information that falsely ameliorated their culpability. Further, since the CFAA required a $5000 damage threshold, this opened an opportunity for computer security firms to begin claiming that any slight website damage was worth at least $5000. Courts have allowed the supposedly damaged parties to be the ones to evaluate their own damages, and they have piled it on thick.
The vagueness and stretchy interpretability of the CFAA means that outlandish prosecutions are taking place, such as those against Jeremy Hammond, Aaron Swartz (who committed suicide during the relentless over-prosecution against him), and the aforementioned Barrett Brown, who is facing over 100 years in prison for several acts: 1) hiding his laptop computer that he used for his journalism and book-writing work when the FBI came to search. (Is that a laptop in your dish cabinet, or are you just happy to see the FBI?); 2) ranting on a youtube video about the FBI agent who would not return the computer; 3) the "conspiracy" of getting someone to look up a phone number for the FBI agent, as Brown says in one of the rant videos, to demand the agent return his computer; and 4) posting a hyperlink to the Stratfor dump on the website of Project PM, his journalism research group. How dare we take a step back and ask why the FBI was allowed to raid Brown's home and seize his computer, the act that began this mess. The biggest "crime" that can be located is that Brown posted a link. This being true, we are all one link away from being raided by the FBI and sent to prison.
Before Barrett Brown was raided, he was working on a journalism project to investigate the burgeoning private spy companies in the United States, such as Stratfor. Barrett Brown did not hack Stratfor. He did not hack anything. His work threatened to reveal this new complex of former CIA agents who retire and start intelligence and surveillance companies that get giant U.S. contracts. These companies operate without the oversight or regulation under which the FBI, NSA, CIA, and DHS operate. Investigative journalism means uncovering information, putting it into a cognizable format, and sharing it. Investigative journalism is a First Amendment activity, not a crime. Investigating into the murky world of private surveillance firms is a daring activity. Now, apparently, it can get one raided by the FBI and charged with "linking."
The disproportionate sentencing for computer crimes in the U.S. can be seen when comparing the 100+ year sentence that was faced by Jeremy Hammond before pleading, and the 100+ year sentence faced by Barrett Brown, to the very lenient sentences given to LulzSec defendants who are from the U.K. The sentencing took place a few months ago, and Jake Davis is already on Twitter. Just the other day, Jake was whining that he is forbidden from contacting Ryan Cleary, whom Davis says has requested his help in learning how to socialize. In the US, computer cases are often inflated with 20 - 40 counts that could theoretically call for 100+ years in prison. The U.S. system of overcharging with the possibility of drastic prison sentences causes defendants to accept a plea rather than go to trial. The end sentences, after the pleas, are still disproportionate and harsh. The sentences of hackers in the U.K. are mild and seem cognizant of the reality that these crimes are actually no big deal and those committing them are good, intelligent young people. If monkeying around on a computer can bring a greater prison term than rape or killing someone, and it definitely does, then we have a warped system where being curious and smart are being punished. The lawmaking and prosecutions seem to be done by people who don't understand computers or the internet. In the U.S., it is as if the internet is black magic or sorcery and those who practice internetism are being tried as witches to be burnt at the stake.
Jeremy Hammond was not monkeying around in hacking. His goals were purely political, with the aim of a more honest government for the people. Jeremy has been arrested many times for political activism and has done a few prison stints for it, too. His seriousness and political aims put him in stark contrast to the other Lulz Sec defendants, who seem to have engaged in mindless mischief.
Jason Hammond is Jeremy's twin brother. They are from a suburb outside my hometown of Chicago. The two of them could often be seen at protests and art events in Chicago. They look so much alike that, for the longest time, I thought they were the same person. I thought it was one guy who walked real fast and was really busy. Oh look, he is over at this protest/ fest. Oh look, somehow he is a mile away hanging on the street corner passing out leaflets. Oh look, he is there playing music in the park. Finally, I figured it out. They were twins.
Jeremy and Jason are the kind of young people a City should appreciate. They were a giant pain in the ass for any mayor, but a pain that would have made the City stronger if it had engaged these resourceful minds rather than trying to squelch them. The twins challenged questionable plans and expenditures. They were doggedly relentless in trying to force a more transparent government. When Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference boosting to have the Olympics hosted in Chicago, the Hammonds and their little crew showed up, and the Mayor's fancy banner got ripped down. It was a kind of First Amendment statement that said to screw all the showy pretense and admit that hosting the Olympics would drain the City budget for decades.
That was not the first time one or both of the Hammond duo were involved in banner-tearing. Watching them was how I learned that banners are simply an invitation for someone to tear down the banner. Banners are for suckers. Banners are an invitation to protesters to have a dramatic First Amendment moment in a way that does no lasting harm. They rip up a banner that is meant to be disposable and that costs less than $100. Dramatic, looks good on camera, no big deal. The banner-rippers get arrested and there are oohs and aahs as the audience divides between those who admire the American Revolutionary spirit of the rippers and those who are angry that these bad boys ruined a perfectly good ceremony. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a former dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, who stands at ballet preparatory position, or premiere en bas, at press conferences. The Mayor did not appreciate the Hammond galoots galloping through his press conference and sashaying off with his lovely Olympics banner streaming behind them like a rhythmic gymnastics dance. The rippers had not planned their getaway and Jeremy was nabbed within moments. Jason insisted the security guards were mistaken, that it was really he who had danced off with the banner. Twins. Jason ended out with probation. This prior conviction of Jason for ripping Rahm's banner, plus knowing his brother was in jail potentially facing many years in prison, tend to make it seem unlikely Jason would risk participation in the attack on the people at the luncheon.
In March, 2012, Jeremy Hammond was arrested at the little communal house in Bridgeport. A huge raid was staged, with many vehicles and squadrons of agents and police blocking the street, and yet, it was eerily silent. Jeremy was taken in the night and has never returned. He was taken off to New York City to face charges, even though the hacking took place in Chicago and Stratfor is in Texas. It was later revealed that the judge in New York, Judge Loretta Preska, had direct ties and bias in the case because her husband was a subscriber to the Stratfor analyst reports and his credit card number was part of the cache that had been hacked. Jeremy Hammond's defense lawyers motioned for Preska to recuse herself, yet she refused. A Judge is required to recuse herself if there is actual bias or an appearance of impropriety. A judge who does not recuse herself on her own motion may be motioned to recuse by the party who will be prejudiced by the bias. Oddly, the judge being asked to recuse herself is the one who holds the recusal hearing and decides if she herself is biased. Judge Preska declared herself unbiased and carried forth, holding Jeremy Hammond on no bail, in solitary, refused family visits, with very limited time to work with his lawyers on his defense, until he finally agreed to a plea deal that can bring him up to 10 years in prison. Ahh, America, land of the free.
Jeremy Hammond is extremely strong-willed, and to get him to cop a plea was not easy. He was denied bail, as if he were a serial killer. He was put in solitary, denied visitors. In what appeared to be a move to woo him over, at one court hearing, Judge Preska allowed Jeremy a short visit with his mother and brother in her chambers. Not to mock this kindness, but it was Judge Preska who was holding Jeremy in jail on no bail, thus keeping him from his family, friends, and even from being able to participate properly in his own defense preparation. The apparently magnanimous gesture of the chambers visit appears less so and more like a ploy to enhance the likelihood he'd cop a plea. Finally, he caved in and made a plea that could potentially put him in prison for up to 10 years. He is not cooperating with authorities. He is awaiting sentencing.
Do the authorities now have what they want from Jeremy? I don't think so. He has something they desperately want and need and that he could give them if he chose to do so. What is it? His hacking skill. The U.S. government is being beaten silly by hackers from China and Russia and even from many at home in the U.S. Jeremy Hammond, fresh out of high school in 2003 created Hack this Site, a training ground for hackers. Jeremy did not require fancy equipment. He was poor and had an old laptop, and with it, he could pwn any government or corporate website or server. Jeremy Hammond rotting in prison does the government no good. How could the government convince Jeremy Hammond to consider playing on their team? Is that what they want? Is this all an elaborate job recruitment scheme?
Jeremy Hammond is a patriot, just like Edward Snowden is a patriot. These men believe in honest government, government that benefits the people being governed. Those governmental traits have been in short supply for a long time, forcing the patriots to object in big ways. If the government expected its employees to do only ethical acts and to report when wrong things were happening, that would be one thing, but the Obama administration has prosecuted whistleblowers in record numbers. Former CIA agent John Kiriakou is in prison for reporting that torture is being systematically conducted by our government. Pfc. Bradley Manning has been imprisoned for over 3 years and tortured, and is now on trial for allowing the public to know of horrendous war crimes. Edward Snowden is on the lam in Russia after revealing that our government is massively spying on all of our emails and phone calls. Today, working for the U.S. requires keeping quiet, even while witnessing extreme violations of human rights. Those whose consciences are awake will have a hard time with this. It was not always this way; this systematic prosecution of whistleblowers is new in the Obama administration. The Obama promise of Hope has turned into the reality of Hope they don't toss you in prison.
What weakness does Jeremy Hammond have? He obviously is not motivated by money, as he has never had any. What does he have? His beloved twin brother, Jason.
In mid-July 2013, Jason Hammond was arrested and charged with armed violence for a mob attack that took place over a year earlier, on May 19, 2012. Let's look closely at that event:
May 19, 2012 was during the week-long NATO protests in Chicago. Protesters had come in from out of town and were filling homes, camping on church lawns, sleeping behind bushes in the park along Lake Michigan. There was a festival atmosphere, with protests taking place each day. The City was also intensely geared up with Secret Service agents, NSA, DHS, and FBI. An area of the downtown loop had been declared a Red Zone, or no-man's land. Snipers were positioned on rooftops. The City had done its best to quash the main protest scheduled for May 20, causing the planners to go into court hearings and lengthy negotiations. Due to twists of life, the original protest permit reservation for May 20 was in my name, so I was paying very close attention to what was happening, who was doing what. I wanted the May 20 protest to be a strong, healthy display of the First Amendment rights, but did not want things to devolve to property damage or personal injury. I had visions of 1968's Chicago 7 and ending out, as they had, on trial for conspiracy to riot with people I had never met. I was particularly wary of anyone who seemed to be geared up to do battle.
In Chicago for NATO 2012, there was a week of protests and events scheduled from Saturday, May 13 though Monday, May 21, 2012. Around Tuesday, May 15, a group drove in to Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood from out of town, and were stopped and harassed by Chicago cops. One of those in the car flipped on a video camera, recording the hassling session by an archetypal Bridgeport cop. The things said by the cop were so cliché as to seem like a script about a cop in a bungalow neighborhood hassling the quintessential protester kids from out of state. The cop said he'd be keeping an eye on the protesters and threatened to get them. The whole mess ended out on Youtube. The same group of out-of-towners were seen the following day in raucous protests through the south side. Those protests were live-streamed by Tim Pool, Jeff Shively, and Luke Rudkowski. The march was incredibly long, incredibly fast, and got high points for clever technique in eluding police. In short, the march was hilarious, daring, crazy, and daunting. The live stream merited 4 stars for protest porn, with Tim Pool running through a narrow gangway as a protester flipped trash cans. Tim followed closely behind as protesters hopped a turnstile to run upstairs to the el platform, only to have the trains suddenly shut down. I hoped Sunday's protest would be tamer, since my name would be associated with it.
By Thursday night, the same guys who had been stopped in the car by the Bridgeport cops and who had helped put on the video game-worthy march the day before, were arrested in a massive midnight raid on the house where they were staying with locals. They had been set up and entrapped by two undercover cops, a man and a woman who called themselves Nadia and Mo, who were "arrested" with them to try to maintain their cover. When Nadia and Mo disappeared in jail, there was speculation they had been put into a black hole. Those savvy about the ways of law enforcement quickly realized the two were actually undercover cops there to entrap their prey. Nadia and Mo had instigated the making of molotov cocktails (bottle bombs) and supposedly, the three young men from out of town went along with the plan. The three are nicknamed the NATO 3, and they are still in Cook County Jail. Jump back to how the Illinois conspiracy and accountability laws work, and note that the young men need not have done much to be guilty. In most conspiracy cases, it is the entrapping agents who come up with the plan, provide the materials, do most of the talking, and those being entrapped need only acquiesce. Nadia and Mo were able to entrap their prey within a few days of their arrival in Bridgeport. The out-of-towners' lack of moxy to just say no to the cunning duo may land them in prison for decades.
On Friday of that May week, in Tinley Park, a suburb south of Chicago, a tattooed woman in her 40s walked into the Ashford House, an Irish restaurant known for its bland food and senior citizen crowd, and made a noon lunch reservation for 10 diners for the following day, according to a restaurant worker. "It all seemed strange from the beginning," according to the worker.
On Saturday, a group of men was spotted in the south loop area of Chicago putting batons into the trunk of a dark-colored car. Some protesters assumed these men to be police who were going to act as agent provocateurs at the protests. The protesters took pictures and put them up online, asking people to identify the men. What happened to the photos? Who were the men? Were they, in fact, agent provocateurs, but headed to Tinley Park? Or who were they?
At around noon, the European heritage group gathered at Ashford House. According to a restaurant worker, the group members met out in the parking lot, did not appear to know each other, and introduced themselves to each other before entering the restaurant. Five were inside awaiting the arrival of ten more when the attackers entered the restaurant.
According to reports, a group of 15 to 18 men dressed in black with hoods and masks ran in. The Tinley Park Patch reported: “Tables were being thrown and chairs were broken,” the employee said. “Then they were gone. They flashed in and out. They had people waiting for them outside.” The attackers reportedly left in 3 cars. One car with 5 men from Indiana was stopped within five minutes. The sixth person to be arrested was Jason Hammond, who was arrested about 14 months after the incident.
I question whether this was a real luncheon, or if it was an elaborate entrapment scheme. I question if the diners were an actual organization, or if some of them were undercover agents. This may seem too elaborate of a plan, but keep in mind, that week Chicago was brimming with FBI, NSA, and DHS agents, and several elaborate, but quickly enacted, entrapment schemes had already taken place. I question whether the men who brought the batons were undercover police. We know that 5 of the attackers were the HARM group from Indiana. I question who the rest of the attackers were -- were some of them undercover agents? Who came up with the idea of the HARM group attacking this luncheon, and how did they find out about it since the luncheon was just planned the day before? I wonder if the State is claiming Jason Hammond was present at the restaurant, or if they are trying to rope him in on conspiracy or accountability. If Jason Hammond was present at the restaurant, what was he told he would be attending?
If the Tinley Park 5 who took plea deals suspect that there were undercover agents involved or any entrapment, there is no mention of it on the HARM website. The HARM website brags that the five attackers who are now in prison have not given up their "comrades," but have they bothered to find out who all their comrades are? And how does Jason Hammond figure in? He seems one of the least likely persons to be involved in such a group. It seems highly unlikely he would knowingly go to a "protest" where the "protesters" were bringing batons. If he was present and could not be identified from the restaurant video, how is it he is being identified 14 months later? If he was not present, yet is still being accused, how tenuous is his connection to the events?
And my big question: Is the prosecution of Jason Hammond a ploy to get his twin brother, Jeremy Hammond, to agree to hack on behalf of the government?