The FBI says the five arrested before May Day are terrorists, but friends in Cleveland say they were goaded on by informant.
Connor Stevens, one of the five Occupy Cleveland members accused by the FBI of plotting to blow up a bridge. Photograph: FBI/AP
by Arun Gupta
Like real-life Avengers, the FBI and 23 separate police agencies joined forces and pounced on a band of villains hell-bent on sowing chaos in a sleepy Midwest suburb earlier this month. The FBI reassured the world that thanks to the “swift collaborative action” of law enforcement, it had rounded up five “self-proclaimed anarchists … intent on using violence to express their ideological views” by attempting to blow up a bridge near Cleveland on May Day.
Now, the Cleveland Five look more like bedraggled punks than diabolical geniuses, but surely doom was averted in the nick of time. In fact, the G-Men admit the exact opposite: “At no time during the course of the investigation was the public ever in danger.”
So if there was no threat, what really happened? This case was a familiar set-up in which the FBI fishes for dupes it can manipulate with informants and agents who stroke their marks, plant ideas, suggest the plans, provide money, weapons, vehicles and then heroically foil a terrorist act of the FBI’s own design. Since September 11, scores of these entrapment cases have been sprung on Muslims in America. It appears the Occupy Wall Street movement is now worthy of the same treatment.
Is the government unleashing the same methods of entrapment against OWS that it has used against left movements and Muslim-Americans?
By Arun Gupta
May 24, 2012
With the high-profile arrest of activists on terrorism charges in Cleveland on May Day and in Chicago during the NATO summit there, evidence is mounting that the FBI is unleashing the same methods of entrapment against the Occupy Wall Street movement that it has used against left movements and Muslim-Americans for the last decade.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
In Cleveland the FBI announced on May 1 that “five self-proclaimed anarchists conspired to develop multiple terror plots designed to negatively impact the greater Cleveland metropolitan area.” The FBI claimed the five were nabbed as they attempted to blow up a bridge the night before using “inoperable” explosives supplied to them by an undercover FBI employee.
Then on May 19, the day before thousands marched peacefully in Chicago to protest NATO-led wars, the Illinois State Attorney hit three men with charges of terrorism for allegedly plotting to use “destructive devices” against targets ranging from Chicago police stations to the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Defense attorneys for the Chicago activists claim their clients, like the Cleveland activists, were provided with supplies for making Molotov cocktails by undercover agents in an operation that included the participation of the FBI and Secret Service. This was followed up on May 20 by the arrest of two other men on terrorism charges in Chicago for statements they made, which critics say amount to thought crimes. The Chicago cases are also reportedly the first time the state of Illinois is charging individuals under its post-September 11 terrorism law.
To hear FBI officials describe it, “Law enforcement took swift, collaborative action…to eliminate the risk of violence and protect the public.” To many observers, however, the government itself is the overarching threat, systematically repressing peaceful dissent.
From Mobile, Ala., to Chicago, lessons in the importance of holding territory
Occupy Chicago has not held any public space since mass arrests on Oct. 23. (Credit: AP/Paul Beaty)
The post-occupation movement is taking shape across America. In New York, Occupy Wall Street is mulling next steps now that Zuccotti Park has been politically cleansed. Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore., have been evicted. And other occupations are staring at imminent police action, including New Orleans, Detroit and Philadelphia.
In Chicago, which has been unable to secure a public space, the Occupy movement is trying to figure out how to sustain a public presence through a harsh winter while staging creative actions that capture attention. And while Occupy Mobile in the conservative stronghold of Alabama was shut down two weeks ago without much attention from the national news media, the local movement has not gone quietly into the night, providing one answer to the question: Can an occupation movement survive if it no longer occupies a space?
The answer, based on my visits to occupation sites around the country, is: “Yes, but …”
Does the economic justice movement include the chronically poor? How can it not?
Two protesters who identify themselves as homeless, at Occupy Providence in downtown Providence, R.I. (Credit: Stew Milne/AP)
Topics:Occupy Wall Street, homelessness
Tevin Bell is 18 but looks twice his age. Kicked out of his grandmother’s home last year after getting into a fight with his younger sister, Bell has been living on the streets of Detroit, “going from shelter to shelter.” On a brisk October afternoon he is relaxing in a folding chair, snug under a heavy jacket, watching flames lick the lip of a rusted barrel stuffed with burning scrap wood.
He is one of dozens of apparently homeless people clustered around Grand Circus Park, site of Occupy Detroit, which began on Oct. 14. Bell arrived two weeks later and has just spent his first night camping. He says, “I got a tent and a blanket. They said I can stay, ‘but you can’t just camp, you gotta help out.’”