Connor Stevens and Brandon Baxter are two young men from the Cleveland, OH are who were arrested by federal agents on May 1, 2012 for conspiring to blow up a highway, along with 3 other men. I’ve known all of the men and lived with Connor for six months, as well as having the others stay at a house I lived in for periods of a few weeks. What’s important to know: These are not violent “terrorists” but rather good kids who got tricked into something they wanted no part in. I met both Connor and Brandon at different times through Food Not Bombs where we all volunteered together making free food to share with people and promote a non-violent message.
What happened is as follows:
Brandon, Connor, and the three others (who I’m not focusing on not because they’re bad people, but rather just because I’m not as close to them) were part of a protest in Cleveland, Ohio on October 21st, 2011 where those who had co-opted and claimed power over the Occupy Cleveland movement helped police orchestrate mass arrests of individuals. The infiltrator targeted them here because they were waving Anarchist flags and were visibly discontent with the plan to sit and get arrested, as was pre-planned by the self-appointed leaders. He gained the group’s trust and they began to form an affinity group to help improve the area.
Early ideas presented in the group included things like guerilla gardening and banner dropping. It wasn’t until down the line the infiltrator started suggesting violence. When infiltrators start trying to coerce the group into violent or illegal acts, this is known as being an agent provocateur, and this tactic isn’t uncommon in government agencies attempting to crush movements. Back on topic though, many members of the group expressed opposition to bombings and other violent tactics but everytime they tried to go in another direction the infiltrator would steer them back towards his goal. Eventually he offered to buy explosives and set up a meet with an undercover FBI agent who sold them fake C4 plastic explosives. The infiltrator then assembled the devices and planted them. I’m not sure of the specifics on who “detonated” (remember that there were never any real explosives involved) the device, but when it happened agents who had been waiting surged in and arrested the men.
These kids are not a hardcore domestic terror cell who sat around plotting out the mass-murder of hundreds of people. When the group finally agreed to go along (for whatever reason) they agreed on the decision that they would dress up as road workers and block off the bridge and post detour signs to make sure no one was on the bridge or could be harmed. They made a bad decision, yes but they were just dumb kids following the lead of someone they thought they could trust. The other three- Tony, Doug, and Skelly (I read that his real name was Josh, but this is what everyone calls it) were more than anything looking for guidance and followed a wolf posing as a Shepard. This entire plan was concocted and almost entirely executed by and infiltrator sent in by the FBI to cause trouble, with these kids having no intentions of harming anyone.
This was done to vilify anarchist and leftist activism to the public and further a state of public hysteria and paranoia.
For anyone against government entrapment and in support of anarchists, leftists, or just the idea that people should be able to work towards a better world without ill-willed saboteurs co-opting their efforts and turning them down the wrong path,please support these people.
The next hearing is MONDAY, MAY 7TH at the Federal Court House in Cleveland, Oh on west 9th and Superior. When I find it I’ll post information on how to get in contact with or visit the boys. If you can get there, please come to the hearing to show your support and let them know that we will not abandon them. Even if you can’t, please at least take 5 seconds to reblog this and get the word out! People need to know what’s happening and understand the whole story!