Dozens of members of Occupy Cleveland reportedly showed up at a Cleveland courthouse this week to support the five suspects charged in connection with a thwarted plot to blow up a bridge just outside the city.
The protesters’ presence seems to further solidify the links between the Occupy movement and the suspects, at least three of whom are self-identified anarchists.
Earlier this week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer revealed those links are so close that one of the suspects, Anthony Hayne, even signed the lease for a warehouse where about a dozen members of the Occupy Cleveland group live.
WND was first to report some of bridge-bombing suspects participated in Occupy events and that one suspect was described by news media in March as an Occupy member.
WND was also first to report last week that Occupy had partnered with anarchy groups to engage in joint “direct action.”
Cleveland’s WEWS-TV reported about 50 members of the Occupy Cleveland group went into court Monday to support the suspects at the start of their trial. All five involved in the alleged plot pleaded not guilty.
The five suspects are 21-year-old Connor Stevens, 24-year-old Joshua Stafford (aka “Skully”), 26-year-old Douglas Wright (aka “Cyco), 20-year-old Brandon Baxter (aka “Skabby”) and 37-year-old Anthony Hayne (aka “Tony” & “Billy”).
The FBI criminal complaint seems to go to great lengths not to mention Occupy. Instead, the 21-page document – reviewed by WND – refers a number of times to “events” attended by the suspects. The “events” were Occupy protests.
The FBI said it had a source and an undercover agent who infiltrated the anarchy ring, which plotted to detonate the explosives on Ohio’s Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge.
The bridge carries a four-lane highway over part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the Brecksville area, about 15 miles south of downtown Cleveland, the FBI said.
News media quoted sources in the Cleveland Occupy who recognized the suspects.
Johnny Peskar, an Occupy leader, told msnbc.com that Occupy organizers had seen a few in the plot hanging around earlier events, but their actions were “autonomous,” he said.
“We don’t need any implications in this nonsense,” Peskar said.
Occupy Cleveland canceled its May Day protests upon news of the arrests.
The London Daily Mail also quoted an Occupy Cleveland member as saying at least some of the suspects had attended the group’s events.
WND found Baxter was described in March as an “Occupy member” by Cleveland’s Plain Dealer newspaper.
On March 5, the paper reported that “five members of Occupy Cleveland were arrested … after they protested property foreclosures by interrupting a sheriff’s sale.”
The paper quoted “Brandon Baxter of Lakewood” as saying “he had no regrets for making sure people heard the message.” The FBI document notes Baxter is from Lakewood.
Continued Baxter: “I took the risk of getting arrested because I feel the powers that be, whoever they might be – on all levels of government and those who hold corporate power – are not listening because not enough people are actually taking a stance” against foreclosures, he said.
“I was hoping that this would be a great way to get Cleveland more involved by showing the potential that a small group of dedicated people can have in making an impact. Even though we are not in any government position or in Congress, we do have the power.”
WND further found that Baxter set up an Occupy Facebook page titled “Stand with the Occupy Movement Against Suppression!”
The FBI complaint, meanwhile, seems to go out of its way to not mention Occupy. It details how a confidential FBI source attended an Oct. 21 protest “event” and “identified four suspicious males with walkie-talkie radios around their necks.” Three of the four had masks covering their faces.
While the event referenced wasn’t named, that very day Occupy Cleveland held its Occupy the Banks operation.
One suspect, Wright, said he believed leaders at the “event” were conspiring with corporate America and police, and he needed to recruit from outside that group, in homeless shelters and neighborhoods, the FBI complaint states.
The FBI document described how an undercover agent sold faulty C4 explosives to the group, purportedly to be detonated on the bridge last night in the lead up to today’s nationwide May Day protests.
The FBI document relates that at end of March, Baxter talked about getting a permit for an “upcoming festival” in Cleveland and believed he was going to have a difficult time getting one.
Once again, the FBI document doesn’t identify the festival. However, WND found that “Occupy and Friends” in April announced its “Occupy the Heart Street Festival.”
Occupy partners with anarchy group
While Occupy leaders attempt to distance their group from the Ohio anarchists, WND reported Occupy has partnered with an anarchy movement to deploy joint chaotic actions aimed at protesting capitalism.
Two weeks ago, Occupy D.C. and an anti-capitalist group calling itself the Anarchist Alliance D.C. Network caused a ruckus at an International Monetary Fund convention. Protesters reportedly attached climbing ropes to security barricades outside the main IMF entry checkpoint and pulled them down. Other ropes were used to pull down obstacles along the path delegates used to attend the meetings.
Protesters stormed several hotels where IMF delegates were staying, including the Washington Circle Hotel and the Mayflower.
A Facebook “anarchy” page was created in the run-up to the IMF event. The page, titled “Anarchy Spring training and IMF protest in DC-April 19th to 20th-2012,” served as an online planning forum.
The Occupy Wall Street website initiated a subsection titled “anarchy” in which related events are posted. The site boasts of a Manhattan protest earlier this month, following an anarchy book fair, in which agitators marched through the streets turning over trash cans and spraying anarchy symbols on local businesses. Protesters reportedly used eight-foot-long metal pipes to smash the windows of a Starbucks in New York’s East Village.
One group, calling itself the First of May Anarchist Alliance, has partnered with Occupy to protest the Trayvon Martin shooting.
The anarchy tactics apparently come directly from the playbook of a direct-action organization known as the Ruckus Society, which helped to spark the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle that turned violent.
Ruckus is directly tied to Occupy. WND previously reported how official direct-action training resources for Occupy events include several manuals from the Ruckus Society.
Ruckus was also listed as a “friend and partner” of Occupy events, including the movement’s Days of Action held in October 2011.
Ruckus is funded by the George Soros-financed Tides Center, which has been involved in Occupy since the movement’s onset.
Another grantee of Tides is the Adbusters magazine, which first announced the Occupy movement. MoveOn.org, which has joined Occupy, is funded by Tides.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott