Belmont Club

The Propaganda of the Deed

WKYC has links to the actual criminal complaints filed against Connor Stevens, Brandon Baxter, Douglas Wright, Anthony Hayne and Joshua Stafford in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge and perhaps to subsequently attack targets in Chicago in connection with the coming NATO summit.

This is the complaint against Wright, Baxter and Hayne. A second and very similar complaint was separately lodged against Stafford and Stevens.

The complaints are worth reading to gain a glimpse into the more extreme fringes of Occupy, to whom some of the suspects belonged or even had leadership positions in. In that universe, the enemy is the Federal Reserve, the One Percent, Fusion Centers and other targets. Since these proved hard to attack it is alleged the suspects decided to focus on the measly bridge.

According to the criminal complaints, the suspects allegedly discussed ways of communicating secretly, spoofing their IP addresses, using untraceable electronic transfers and using peer-to-peer networks to avoid detection by the Man. However, they neglected to avoid the acquaintance of an FBI confidential human source, who has a criminal record for the possession of cocaine, robbery, and multiple raps for passing bad checks. The confidential human source was employed to infiltrate the suspect’s ring and paid $5,570 plus $550 for expenses and seemingly nullified all their hi-tech precautions by wearing a wire.

Although the suspects were described as “anarchists”, they were not bereft of organizational links and gleefully described to the FBI informant how a “shitload” of people would be coming to Cleveland and it would be “off the hook” for the week, leaving the downtown in a “pile of rubble” prior to moving on to other cities and giving them the same treatment.

Interestingly Occupy Cleveland which says they are “not representative of the group” cancelled a planned May Day event, perhaps out of uncertainty for how many individuals, still at large, might be motivated to carry out the suspect’s plan.

“While the group arrested Monday evening by the FBI were associated with Occupy Cleveland they were in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland or the event that was planned for later today at the GE Lighting building. The May Day Event that was sponsored by Occupy Cleveland, the North Shore AFL-CIO, Cleveland Jobs with Justice, Fight for a Fair Economy and SEIU Local 1 has been cancelled because of the alleged actions of the autonomous group arrested last night. Occupy Cleveland has had affirmed principles of non-violence since its inception on October 6, 2011.”

The criminal complaint ultimately provides very little information on how far beyond the circle of suspects the conspiracy extended, if it extended at all. Was it all crazy talk? Or is there a hard core of wild guys who are half-tolerated by the mainstream protest movement to provide a degree of deniable intimidation for the group as a whole? The Wikipedia article on anarchy and the Occupy movement discusses the media debate about the role of “anarchists” in Occupy.

David Graeber, an early organizer of the movement, is a self-proclaimed anarchist. Graeber, writing for The Guardian, has argued that anarchist principles of direct action, direct democracy and rejection of existing political institutions are the foundations of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Graeber also believes that radical segments of the civil rights movement, the anti-nuclear movement and the global justice movement have been based on the same principles. The Occupy movement sprang from the WikiLeaks initiative to Open Knowledge and give public access without regard for authority.

In November 2011, approximately 100 people participated in the “Anarchist General Assembly” and discussed ways to spread anarchist ideas and how to interact with police. The organizers of the assembly published a flier that read, “This is a call to the anarchist and broader anti-authoritarian community to reconvene in assembly and continue to develop ourselves as members of a larger network here in Portland.”

But other media commentators say there is no relationship.

Michael Kazin, writing for The New Republic, analyzed the composition of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He argued that Occupy members are different from political activists of the late 19th century and early 20th century counterparts, citing contemporary rejection of violent methods as the main difference. Kazin described the Occupy Wall Street anarchists as “ultra-egalitarian, radically environmentalist, effortlessly multicultural and scrupulously non-violent”, describing them as the “cyber-clever progeny of Henry David Thoreau and Emma Goldman.

"Effortlessly multicultural, scrupulously nonviolent" or The Useful Losers?

Well apparently the debate continues and it is fair to say that the suspects, if guilty, do not agree with Kazin.  In fairness to Occupy, there are probably a certain number of crazies who attach to any social movement.  The profile of the suspects suggest that none of them would ever have become leaders of note or successful at anything.  They were not the next tycoons, politicians or legends — not the coming men of the next generation.

The traditional role of losers has been to lend themselves to use by the players and abandoned to their fate thereafter.  Perhaps the best known example of a throw-away loser was Gavrilo Princip, “born in Obljaj, a poor part of Bosnia … his parents, Petar, a postman, and Marija … had nine children, six of whom died in infancy. His impoverished parents could not provide for him and sent him to live with an older brother in Zagreb, now the capital of Croatia”.

That made him a perfect stooge for the Black Hand, which was playing a much larger game of power politics. They trained a number of disposables, one of whom was Princip — also described as an anarchist — and the rest, as they say is history. Once used, Princip was forgotten. When he died, “Princip weighed around 40 kilograms (88 lb), weakened by malnutrition, blood loss from his amputated arm, and disease.”

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