Update on the Cleveland 5 + Letter from imprisoned anarchist Connor C. Stevens (USA)
Note: The Cleveland 5 are imprisoned anarchists who were set up by the FBI in one of their trademark incitement/entrapment operations. The five anarchists were arrested on April 30th, 2012 by the FBI for allegedly conspiring and attempting to detonate C-4 on the State Route 82 bridge, located between Brecksville and Sagamore Hills township in Ohio. The five had been working with an FBI informant, who allegedly gave them access to the explosives and had been providing them with a variety of other services. They have been dubbed the “Cleveland 5” and are set to start trial on September 17th, 2012. Read this letter by one of their friends.
After almost two months of imprisonment, repression and an intense campaign of media demonization, the Cleveland 5 remain strong and solid in their refusal to cooperate with the FBI.
They also remain in desperate need of our support. They are getting very little contact from the outside world and four of the five defendants are being represented by public defenders. Although right now these four say they are happy with their lawyers, they also have no access to the funds necessary to offer them the legal options they so desperately need right now. We all know that “justice” basically means how much money you have.
Their support crew has been working hard to hustle the funds necessary to hire a lawyer for Connor, the defendant who was most unhappy with his legal representation. The lawyer, who is taking on the case at a reduced cost, also plans to hire an investigative team to work on the case. As of now, initial legal costs exceed $30,000 and are expected to be much more than that.
Even though these costs are huge and may seem insurmountable, the future of the five is riding on the efforts of small autonomous groups of people contributing to the struggle for their freedom. There will be no knights in shining armor in this case, just us and the support we are able to muster.
The five also need encouragement, expressions of solidarity with their refusal to cooperate, and letters of support. So far, responses along these lines have been disappointing. It’s not news that the five are mostly inexperienced and are not well known within our networks of affinity. And it’s possible that this is why they were targeted. But we cannot let these be the reasons we do not support them. They may not be a friend of a friend, maybe no one you know can vouch for them, but so far they have stood up to the State with courage and integrity—one of them, Connor, has even gone on hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment—and it’s time they get some unambiguous expressions of solidarity in return.
We know the risks of not supporting fringe anarchists in moments of intense repression—when people feel alone they are more likely to snitch or to look to reactionary belief systems for solace. While they are remaining uncooperative with the government at this point, the future is very uncertain if they do not get more support than they are getting.
Please see the legal update and the individual updates below and take a minute to send a book or a zine or to drop a line on these comrades.
The five are being charged with “Use or Attempted Use of Explosive Materials” and “Conspiracy”.
They have been incarcerated since May 1st and four of them are being held in a private prison in Youngstown, Ohio. The fifth, Doug Wright, is being held at the county jail in Trumbull County in Warren, Ohio.
On June 15th, a “motion for detention” was signed by the judge in the case, preventing supporters from bonding them out before trial.
The judge in their case seems to be tough and unsympathetic and is refusing requests for continuance by the lawyers. Although they have not had nearly enough time to prepare an adequate defense, the judge continues to insist that the trial will begin in early September. Although it is extremely unlikely to happen, it demonstrates the added pressure the five and their lawyers are under.
As of now, Connor, Brandon, Anthony and Josh are being held at a private prison in Youngstown, Ohio called the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, run by the Corrections Corporation of America. Doug is currently being held the Trumbull County Jail in Warren, Ohio.
The four being held at NOCC are in solitary confinement (23 hours of lock down a day with one hour of “recreation” in a small outdoor cage), can make phone calls only once every fifteen days and are permitted one legal call per day. Despite these rules, no one has been consistently able to make calls as their requests are repeatedly ignored. They are allowed two visits per week, but they are only twenty minutes long and visitors have to check in by 7am.
Brandon is incarcerated at NOCC where he is cell mates with his co-defendant Tony. Because the two are together, they seem to be doing well emotionally. He is in need of a decent legal dictionary, any criminal defense books, and would like to be sent news articles that are being printed about the five. He’s spending time documenting the case and doing legal research as much as possible given the restrictions. He really wants letters and visitors.
Tony is doing well emotionally and wants letters and visits. He is cellmates with Brandon at NOCC. He is working hard doing research to prepare for his case and has really offered a lot of emotional support to Brandon and Connor, helping them stay strong.
Josh’s situation is potentially the most urgent. He is having a very hard time mentally and emotionally and is getting very little support or outside contact. He is also, for unknown reasons, not allowed to have any contact whatsoever with the other three comrades at NOCC. He has a history of mental health issues that have already been made public in the case, and which are not be effectively addressed by his captors. He is not getting adequate nutrition, is losing weight and feels constantly hungry. He usually does not take the hour of rec. available to him because he is too physically weak. He is in urgent need of support and letters.
Connor is in high spirits and is looking forward to working with the new lawyer. He continues to be frustrated with the limitations of visitation and phone use and, sometime in June, went on hunger strike to protest these conditions. He is clear in his commitment to not cooperating with the government. He is also incarcerated at NOCC where he can sometimes have contact with Brandon and Tony.
Doug is being held at Trumbull County Jail in Warren, Ohio where his lawyer requested he be transferred in hopes of improving his conditions. Like Josh, he is totally disconnected from any contact with his co-defendants and feels very isolated. His lawyer has been urging him to take a plea, but so far he’s remaining strong. He’s getting very little support or outside contact and has no support from his family. He is usually out of touch because of the conditions of his incarceration and lack of support and usually has no idea what’s going on about the case, when court dates are, etc. He is also suffering from lack of sufficient food and is also dealing with harassment from guards.
Please write to them at:
Last Name, First Name
ID #, NEOCC
2240 Hubbard Rd
Youngstown, OH 44505
Here are their ID numbers:
Stevens, Connor # 57978060
Baxter, Brandon #57972060
Hayne, Anthony #57975060f
Stafford, Joshua #57976060
You can write to Doug at:
Douglas L. Wright**
150 High Street
Warren, OH 44481
*Letters must be in pre-stamped envelopes from the Post Office. No glitter/sparkles/confetti/stickers/etc. Plain lined or unlined paper is acceptable. Photos are okay.
**Please be sure to include Doug’s middle initial, L., when addressing letters to him as there are two Douglas Wrights at Trumbull County Jail in Warren.
A note on security: As we know, all our letters to these comrades will be read, photocopied, and
maybe even mailed to the FBI field office in our city. Therefore, we should be aware of what we write, the address we write from, and the name we use. Please, do not mention the facts of the case, anything at all illegal, or anything you do not want the FBI to know. Please write to them simply to show them they are not alone, and that you are thinking about them. Send them an article you think they might like, or a poem, picture, drawing, etc. We should know the risks, but not let them deter us from supporting our friends.
Donations to Legal Fund
If you would like to make donations via check or money order, please make the check out to Conveyor Belt Collective, who is handling our donations.
Send checks to:
Cleveland 5 Justice
P.O. Box 602117
Cleveland, OH 44102
Please separate any donations over $3000 into multiple contributions.
Your identity will be kept confidential unless you would prefer otherwise. Thanks so much, your help is greatly appreciated!
For more info and updates about their case, check out their support group’s site at http://www.cleveland5justice.org
To read the affidavit in the case check out http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/05/01-4
Letter from Connor C. Stevens to everyone.
One who, in the days of April, enjoyed such simple Freedoms as sitting by a Flowing stream of water, smiling in the sun, or relaxing under a bridge with a friend under a bridge in Cleveland, drinking a beer, now, in May, has been thrown in solitary confinement. Here, in solitary confinement, I have never felt more connected to the People, whom I Love and am willing to lay down my life for.
As we band together, talk, debate, and organize, we are already moving closer to the world we are struggling to create. Who among us has not has the strong impression that this is but a dream, that these days and nights since April 30th are not but a nightmare? Yet who can deny that this dark dream that has been case, not upon the May Day 5, but upon our whole community, and indeed the world, has not been pierced by overwhelming rays of Love, of solidarity, of strength – in this warmth I do not require “hope” because here and now I am witness to and participant of the timeless Power of the People.
A Brother wrote me, saying, “I feel they have taken my Freedom with yours.” And this is why we struggle – the fascists (federal government and corporations) have not merely imprisoned the May Day 5. They have, in effect, declared war on any life, which even questions, their hegemony. This is not the first case of this nature, nor will it be the last. As they accumulate their watch lists, tap phones, dispatch informants, rip apart families, friends, lovers, passing even more (unnecessary) legislation (NDAA for fiscal year 2012) in preparation for martial law, we must never forget we the people are infinitely more wise, more beautiful, more passionate, and more Powerful. When we fight, we do so in defense of all life, here and to come. The journey before us will be arduous, but we have run out of alternatives: if we chose life, we can no longer remain spectators and consumers. So, my great big glorious family, let us jump up and live again! Let us choose life!
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE, IN ARMS,
From a Love that can only be expressed in action, your brother, comrade,
Connor C. Stevens.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 at 5:53 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.