Commentary Magazine


Topic: Occupy Cleveland

Occupiers Support Bombing Suspects

This seems to contradict those rumors that the Occupy movement might reinvent itself as a more public-friendly campaign this spring:

Dozens of members of Occupy Cleveland showed up at a Cleveland courthouse to support the five people charged in connection with an alleged plot to blow up a northeast Ohio bridge.

The five suspects — 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”) – pleaded not guilty during their arraignment Monday morning.

The suspects had the charges — conspiracy and attempted use of explosive material to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce — read to them in open court.

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This seems to contradict those rumors that the Occupy movement might reinvent itself as a more public-friendly campaign this spring:

Dozens of members of Occupy Cleveland showed up at a Cleveland courthouse to support the five people charged in connection with an alleged plot to blow up a northeast Ohio bridge.

The five suspects — 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”) – pleaded not guilty during their arraignment Monday morning.

The suspects had the charges — conspiracy and attempted use of explosive material to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce — read to them in open court.

The suspects are reportedly going to argue entrapment, which is really their only option. The FBI seems to have a rock solid case, all the way down to the suspects’ reported attempt to detonate the bomb through a text message.

Meanwhile, the indictment of Occupy is continuing. Occupy Cleveland claims the suspected bomb plotters were “in no way representing” the group, and, considering the diffuse nature of the Occupy movement, perhaps they weren’t. But they do appear to have been particularly active members. The local ABC affiliate published an old video interview today with one of the suspects, which was filmed for an Occupy documentary last fall:

We are getting our first look inside the Occupy Cleveland movement. NewsChannel5 exclusively obtained video of the recording by an independent documentary producer. One of the central characters in the video is Connor Stevens. He identifies himself in the video as an Occupy Cleveland participant. …

But in the interview recorded last fall, Stevens is heard describing a past conversation with a friend. Stevens suggested he’s changed his view about using violence to achieve the goals of the group.

“We were saying two years before that we would have been kicking out windows and stuff like that. Back in like 2008, I was at that state of mind and now I’m understanding that we’re in it for the long haul and those kind of tactics just don’t cut it. And it’s actually harder to be non-violent than it is to do stuff like that,” Stevens said.

Whoever released the video to ABC may be trying to bolster the entrapment defense, because Stevens indicates that he had renounced violence at that point. But it’s also a risk, as Stevens acknowledges that he had previously considered using violent tactics.

The bomb plot appears to have put an end to Occupy Cleveland, at least for the time being. The city declined to renew a permit for the group last week.

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