Anarchists entrapped in a conspiracy
Three young men have today pleaded guilty to conspiracy to charges arising from FBI infiltration and targetting of Occupy Cleveland. Douglas L. Wright, 26, of Indianapolis; Brandon L. Baxter, 20, of Lakewood, Ohio; and Connor C. Stevens, 20 have plead to charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and attempted use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce.
The FBI case is based on a paid informant and the procurement of fake explosive devices that were provided to the men. An undercover FBI agent sold the men inoperable detonators and plastic explosives and authorities arrested them on April 30 after determining that they planned to proceed with the attack.
According to an FBI affidavit, authorities paid a criminal informant more than $5,000 as part of their investigation into the group that began in October 2011 when he met the five men at an anti-Wall Street Occupy Cleveland rally.
The narrative is that they were plotting to blow up a bridge 30 miles south of Cleveland that runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
A fourth suspect, Anthony Hayne, 35, pleaded guilty in July to the attempted attack and agreed to testify against the others. The fifth suspect, Joshua Stafford, is undergoing competency testing.
The use of paid informants, FBI undercover agents and the young age of some of the defendants suggest that agent provocateurs entrapped the men.
This is nothing new, and a spate of recent arrests by the FBI suggests it is all too common. Eric McDavid is a political prisoner, currently serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison for “thought crime.” He was arrested in January 2006 (as part of the government's ongoing "Green Scare" campaign against environmental and animal rights activists) after being targeted by an undercover informant who formulated a crime and entrapped Eric in it. Charged with “Conspiracy to damage and destroy property by fire and an explosive,” his arrest was the direct result of a government informant – known only as “Anna” - who spent a year and a half drawing him in and working with the FBI to fabricate a crime and implicate Eric in it. Anna was paid over $65,000 for her work with the FBI. Eric was imprisoned for what amounts to thought-crime – no actions were ever carried out, and Eric was charged with a single count of “conspiracy” - a powerful legal tool often used by the state to crush dissent.
The case of the RNC8, who were involved in organising against the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis when they were arrested in 2008 on preemptive charges that included terrorism enhancements, was largely based on infiltrators and paid undercover agents. Similarly, the heartbreaking case of two young friends from Texas who went to protest with a well-known, high-profile activist mentor ended up serving time for manufacturing Molotov cocktails that were never used (they decided against it), but the ‘mentor’ was a paid FBI informant. Documentary Better This World follows the journey of David McKay (22) and Bradley Crowder (23) from political neophytes to accused domestic terrorists with a particular focus on the relationship they develop with a radical activist mentor in the six months leading up to their arrests.
The FBI has said, ‘Make no mistake, it was their plot,’ to deflect accusations of setting up the five recently arrested men. In fact, however, by the FBI’s own admission, the so-called ‘plans’ evolved over of a period of months, and became more elaborate suggesting at the very least that the offer of explosive material could have been made in advance of any such plan by the group. The group started out with one idea, but when offered the capability of doing something else, and the encouragement to do so, they decided on a very different course of action.
The US war propaganda war on anarchism and anarchists – who they describe as anarchist-terrorists - has been heating up in the lead up to the republican and democratic national conventions this year. A story by CNN demonstrates the way in which those seeking a radical re-ordering of society through direct action are demonized.
Moreover, newspaper propaganda equating anarchists with right wing nut jobs is all too common. Official: Anarchist GIs plotted to overthrow the government starts a recent MSNBC story. 'Four Army soldiers based in southeast Georgia killed a former comrade and his girlfriend to protect an anarchist militia group they formed that stockpiled assault weapons and plotted a range of anti-government attacks,' prosecutors told a judge Monday.
The war on terrorism has nothing to do with terrorism. It has everything to do with the continuation of an insane economic, social and political system based on exploitation. Anarchists advocating revolutionary change – against capitalism and oppressive hierarchies - will continue to be on the receiving end of extreme state tactics designed to discredit, criminalize and destroy us.
Long live anarchy! Freedom for all political prisoners!