Ohio

FBI Busts Occupy Cleveland Members in Alleged Bomb Plot

Organizations

Five individuals — at least three of them involved in the far-left Occupy Cleveland movement — were arrested on April 30 in Cleveland in connection with an alleged plot to bomb the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad bridge. The FBI described the arrested individuals as “anarchists.”

Brandon Baxter, one of the alleged plotters known to his associates as “Skabby,” served as a spokesman for Occupy Cleveland, telling the Cleveland Plain Dealer in early March that he felt “the powers that be, whoever they might be—on all levels of government and those who hold corporate power—are not listening, because not enough people are actually taking a stance.”

Posts on Occupy Cleveland’s Facebook page indicate that Baxter was involved in helping the organization organize and advertise events as recently as February 2012. Baxter and two of the other alleged co-conspirators — Joshua Stafford and Anthony Hayne — list Occupy Cleveland as their “Employer” on Facebook, where the three list one another as friends.

According to the FBI affidavit, an earlier plot involved setting off smoke grenades as a distraction while the alleged plotters destroyed signs on banking offices in downtown Cleveland.

FBI Special Agent Ryan Taylor claimed that co-defendant Douglas Wright planned to “deploy smoke grenades on the Veterans Memorial Bridge connecting downtown Cleveland to Ohio City, as a diversion while they knocked the bank signs off the tops of the larger buildings in downtown Cleveland.”  According to Agent Taylor, the group allegedly target the signs because they were “the most important part because they need to make sure everyone knows that the action was against corporate America and the financial system, and not just some random acts.”

Apparently growing more ambitious, Baxter and his co-defendants allegedly plotted to obtain C4, a highly destructive plastic explosive, to destroy the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge. The Route 82 bridge crosses from Brecksville to Sagamore Hills, over Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

FBI agents monitored the alleged terrorists and provided dummy “look-alike” explosives. The FBI  affidavit asserts the public was “never in any danger.”

“The safety of the citizens of the Northern District of Ohio is and continues to be our primary focus. The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to express their ideological views,” said FBI Special Agent Stephen Anthony.

During a lunch meeting, Wright and Brandon Baxter allegedly discussed attacking hospitals or banks with “stink bombs,” explosives, or paint guns. The co-conspirators agreed, according to Taylor’s testimony, that attacking the Cleveland Horsehoe Casino’s opening ceremonies on May 14 would “make a good statement.”

Baxter suggested engaging in more grandiose levels of destruction, asking his cell members if they knew “how much do we need to take out a bridge?” Baxter speculated about “how taking out a bridge would lead to the government having to put security on every bridge in the country.”

“The defendants took numerous and repeated acts that demonstrated a commitment to violent, terrorist acts,” said United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach in an interview with 610 WTVN.  “Protecting our community from attacks is our top priority.”

According to WEWS ABC-5, Occupy Cleveland — acting in conjunction with the North Shore AFL-CIO, Cleveland Jobs with Justice, Fight for a Fair Economy, and SEIU Local 1 — has canceled a planned “May Day” rally outside the GE Lighting building. Occupy Cleveland confirmed that several of the alleged terrorists were “associated” with the group, but “were in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland.”