The International Workers’ Disco Party known as May Day came early to Cleveland this year, but instead of starting with a bang, it began with a profoundly dumb silence on the evening of April 30. That’s when five bumbling young males were allegedly unable to detonate eight pounds of the plastic explosive C4 they’d attached to a bridge south of the perennially maligned Rust Belt metropolis.
Although the press has mostly taken to describing them as anarchists, these comically inept five lions were also intimately involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which had taken a hiatus over the winter months because it was too frickin’ cold to topple the oligarchy.
It would be a public-relations apocalypse for the largely left-leaning press to admit that this drab and unwashed quintet of accused wannabe terrorist bombers was in any way involved with a movement approved by Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and the Democratic Party.
It’s charming that anyone—communist, anarchist, fascist, or Polish—would want to occupy Cleveland. But according to an AP report, Occupy Cleveland spokesman Jacob Wagner initially conceded that although the “Cleveland 5” may have attended a few of their events, they were in no way “affiliated” with the group.
I suppose it depends on how one defines “affiliated.” Apparently it doesn’t involve acting as a spokesman for the group when the Cleveland Plain Dealer profiled one of their endless public temper tantrums in March. Nor does it involve staying at their Cleveland encampment while the press describes you as “one of the few remaining members of Occupy Cleveland’s physical presence downtown.” Nor does it involve posing for pictures claiming that not only do you represent Occupy Cleveland, you hope to expand the project into the surrounding suburbs. Nor does it involve organizing events for Cleveland with the word “Occupy” in their name. Nor does it involve signing a lease on a warehouse to provide shelter for a dozen Occupy Cleveland members. Nor does it mean anything when one, or even two, or, for heaven’s sake, three of the five claim not only to be “affiliated” with the group, they claim it was their employer. (A fourth claims Occupy Wall Street is his “Favorite Team,” while the fifth, bless the hidden dimples in his unshaved cheeks, apparently doesn’t have a Facebook profile.)
When finally forced to concede that at least a few of these would-be proletarian mujahideen were, OK, somehow involved with the group if only on the fringes, Occupy Cleveland spokeslady Debbie Kline still claimed they in no way reflected the fundamentally nonviolent doctrine of OWS. A subsequent press release featured this glimmering bauble of newspeak:
Occupy Cleveland has spoken out and worked against…occupations.
Now that we’ve made that clear and established that Occupy Wall Street is a peaceful, nonviolent, and unperturbably serene political movement, let’s meet our five contestants for Dumbest Accused American Terrorists of the New Millennium. If this is what the revolution looks like, the revolution sorely needs a style consultant (click thumbnails to enlarge):
BRANDON “SKABBY” BAXTER
Baxter, 20, was hospitalized in February after an apparent suicide attempt. At the time, Baxter, who claims to possess “sick ninja skillz,” was reportedly found with two knives. In 2008, he was arrested for writing the word BARF on a picnic table. A year later, he was arrested and charged with attempted murder for slashing his stepfather in the chest and forearm with a kitchen knife. (He pled to a lesser offense, and the conditions of his release included psychiatric treatment.)
DOUGLAS “CYCO” WRIGHT
This mild-manned heartthrob, 26, has allegedly boasted that he’s lost teeth and had his nose broken in street scuffles with police. According to the FBI affidavit, he hinted to an informant that he has a felony record and if arrested again, he’d go away for a long time. He also “joked” that if he was “drunk enough,” he’d consider strapping on a suicide vest and blasting himself into anarchist paradise, where he’d be rewarded 72 white girls with dreadlocks and unshaved armpits.
Hayne, the group’s wise elder whose age is variously reported as either 35 or 37, has racked up nearly two dozen criminal charges in northern Ohio, including theft, receiving stolen property, stealing a checkbook, breaking and entering, assault, drug charges involving minors, and lying to police about his identity. When arrested in connection with the foiled bombing attempt, he had a warrant for violating probation.
Hailing from the affluent and nearly all-white suburb of Avon Lake, Stafford, now 23, has allegedly had scrapes with the law since he was fourteen. These include arrests for assault and convictions for criminal trespass, theft, attempted breaking and entering, receiving stolen property, and criminal damaging. One of these incidents from last year involved breaking into a home, kicking out its porch railing, slicing a closet wall in the house with a knife, and stealing three bottles of wine. In a 2003 incident at a youth treatment center, he allegedly threatened to kill a teacher with a knife; he also reportedly stuck his finger in an electrical socket while kicking a teacher in the knee. In 2008 after being caught breaking into an abandoned shopping center, he told police it was because he had “nothing else to do.”
Stevens, 20, appears to have the cleanest rap sheet of the bunch, although police investigated him when he was 15 for disrupting a high-school job fair and calling a police officer a “fascist pig.” In 2009, he was arrested for damaging property, underage drinking, and “stealing a cape from a Walmart store.” His mother reportedly describes him as someone who is “not a violent person but has very strong beliefs and is immature about it.” At press time, it appears that his biggest crime—except for allegedly being involved in a bomb plot—is writing extremely bad poetry.
These are the young men who seem to assume they are fundamentally less corrupt and more ethical than the “1%.”
None of this is to imply that the FBI chose Jesus of Nazareth as their confidential informant in this case. Instead they chose the 6’5”, 350-pound, 39-year-old Shaquille Azir, a felon convicted of crimes such as robbery and passing bad checks who couldn’t even keep his act together long enough to avoid being arrested twice for completely unrelated events during the sting operation. The defendants’ lawyers in the bombing case will likely question Azir’s credibility as well as raise the possibility that his involvement constitutes entrapment. Much of it may hinge on cross-examining Azir, who alleges he ingratiated himself with members of the group during an Occupy Cleveland event in October. According to the FBI, Azir introduced himself to a few of the boys after witnessing one of them say, “Fuck that!” when a speaker at the event insisted the Occupy movement must refrain from violence.
Over several months of interacting with the five suspects, Azir claims the group discussed bombing casinos, hospitals, trains, the Federal Reserve bank, the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and even a KKK or Nazi headquarters in southern Ohio—because everyone knows these latter two groups represent the global corporate elite rather than an almost entirely disempowered and ostracized societal fringe. It was even suggested that they could win public sympathy by bombing a Klan facility, if such things still exist.
It was eventually decided that they’d bomb a bridge. At one point, Brandon Baxter suggested they use tacks to flatten the tires of police vehicles giving chase. It is not known whether the group discussed painting a tunnel on the side of a mountain to distract law enforcement. With Azir as their liaison, they agreed to pay $900 in exchange for eight one-pound bricks of C4 and various items of paramilitary gear. They could only manage to cough up $450 among the five of them, but “Cyco” Wright promised he would make up the difference by becoming a weed dealer.
Last Monday night, the group allegedly planted the C4 bricks at the base of the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, then removed themselves from harm’s way and allegedly tried detonating the explosives via text message. Nothing happened, and they were arrested shortly thereafter. They each face two federal charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and one charge of attempted use of an explosive device to damage or destroy real property. Today all five will appear in federal court.
The FBI affidavit is littered with several instances of the accused exulting in the idea of wreaking destruction, but naively so—they thought that bombing a bridge would somehow teach a lesson to the “1%” rather than the “99%” of people who need things such as bridges to get to work. They obviously didn’t consider that the “1%” may own helicopters or even spaceships. Stafford allegedly joined the group late but was allowed entrance due to his eagerness to do “crazy shit.” Wright said he’d be happy as long as things “got fucked up” in the bombing. He also predicted that Cleveland would be reduced to “a pile of rubble and ashes” and that he looked forward to when American anarchists would be “rioting and destroying each city.”
OWS seems to have mastered the “smash the system” part of their program, but I’ve yet to hear any of them utter a word about how they’d rebuild a society from the ashes that would be better in any way than what currently exists. From the start, I’ve seen them as nothing more than the dupes of police-state power. In that sense, they’ve been the government’s useful idiots. Beyond that, these idiots are useless.
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