As Media Trackers Ohio reported on May 7, ProgressOhio has worked closely with Occupy Columbus and the Occupy movement in general. ProgressOhio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg’s claim that his organization has nothing to do with Occupy, as reported by WTAM 1100 on May 4, is misleading at best. Following is the evidence we shared several days ago plus additional information that didn’t make the cut, presented in chronological order.
Immediately after Occupy Columbus set up in front of the Ohio Statehouse in October 2011, ProgressOhio posted a collection of 27 photos to its official Flickr account. Click the image to see the full photo set:
Within a month, “Sam from Progress Ohio” began appearing frequently in meeting minutes published on the Occupy Columbus website. Click the image for a PDF of the entire Occupy Columbus page relaying minutes from the group’s November 1, 2011 meeting:
Although the Occupy Columbus website has been updated infrequently for the past several months, the sixth item on the group’s home page as of publication was posted by “Sam.” Click the image to see a PDF capture of Sam’s profile from the Occupy Columbus website:
Who is Sam Briggs? As of May 2011, Sam Briggs was the “Progressive Legislative Caucus Coordinator” for ProgressOhio, according to a story on the ProgressOhio website written by none other than Brian Rothenberg. Sam Briggs is listed as Progressive Caucus Coordinator for ProgressOhio Education, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization whose executive director is Brian Rothenberg.
An email to the contact address listed by ProgressOhio Education prompted an auto-response indicating Briggs departed ProgressOhio on March 15, 2012. Evidence shows that from November of 2011 to at least January of 2012, Sam Briggs was both a ProgressOhio employee and an Occupy Columbus leader, serving as a de facto liaison between the two groups.
A November 17, 2011 update posted by Occupy Columbus leaders to the group’s Twitter feed described one of many instances of coordination with ProgressOhio:
Meeting notes from the November 26 Occupy Columbus meeting detail further ProgressOhio plans shared by Briggs. Click the image for a PDF of the full Occupy Columbus page:
Based on news items from the Occupy Columbus website, in November of 2011 ProgressOhio began hosting Occupy Columbus meetings at the ProgressOhio headquarters, 172 East State Street, Suite 600. Click the image for a PDF of the Occupy Columbus page:
In mid-December of 2011, ProgressOhio hosted a two-day gathering of Occupiers from across the state — as announced by ProgressOhio employee Sam Briggs at the Occupy Columbus general assembly meeting on November 26. According to the Occupy Columbus website, ProgressOhio provided lunch to the Occupiers both days. Click the image for a screenshot of the entire Occupy Columbus news item:
Later in December, Occupy Columbus called an “emergency general assembly” meeting after a visit from the Columbus Police and Columbus Fire Department. According to the Occupy Columbus website, ProgressOhio hosted the meeting, which was held the same evening. Click the image for a screenshot of the entire Occupy Columbus post:
Through December 2011, ProgressOhio continued to host Occupy Columbus meetings in the ProgressOhio offices, as indicated by Facebook events posted by Occupy Columbus leaders:
Two days after the meeting shown above, an Occupy Columbus leader published a proposal from an Occupier suggesting the group use public space for future meetings. The “non-profit” mentioned repeatedly in the post is ProgressOhio, whose address is spelled out below. Click the image for a PDF of the page:
ProgressOhio continued to host Occupy Columbus meetings through January of 2012, including a series of “working group” sessions in preparation for a January 20, 2012 “Occupy the Courts” event attacking the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision:
On January 18, 2012, ProgressOhio promoted “Occupy the Courts” on the ProgressOhio website, listing attendees including Occupy Columbus and the Democratic Socialists of Ohio. Click the image for a PDF of the entry from the ProgressOhio blog:
In February, ProgressOhio staff joined Occupy Columbus in a protest outside Governor Kasich’s 2012 State of the State address, according to an Occupy Columbus leader’s post to the Occupy Columbus Facebook page:
ProgressOhio staff posted nearly 100 photos from the State of the State protest to the ProgressOhio Flickr account. ProgressOhio also published the photos as an album on the ProgressOhio Facebook page. Click the image to see the complete Flickr photo set:
Occupy Columbus meetings were still being held at ProgressOhio headquarters as recently as March 5, 2012:
This is not an exhaustive list of evidence proving coordination between ProgressOhio and the Occupy movement in Ohio. Each of these items is in addition to the February 2012 protest of Sen. Rob Portman’s office that ProgressOhio and Occupy Columbus coordinated, as Tom Zawistowski of the Ohio Liberty Coalition highlighted in his May 6 press release.
Former ProgressOhio staffer Sam Briggs was a leader of Occupy Columbus for months while employed by ProgressOhio. Any news outlet that regularly cites Brian Rothenberg has a responsibility to inform readers of his attempt to distance ProgressOhio from Occupy in the wake of the alleged bomb plot by Occupy Cleveland members.