In the last few months, the Cleveland 4 have been discussed in several interviews. If you've missed any of them, here are links so you can learn more information about the case, the current political context in which we should consider "terrorism" prosecutions, and updates about how Brandon, Connor, Doug, and Josh are doing and what you can do to support them through the rest of their sentences. Check out the interviews and share!
April 30, 2017. Tonight marks the fifth anniversary of the arrest of Brandon Baxter, Connor Stevens, Doug Wright, and Josh “Skelly” Stafford—the young men who came to be known as the Cleveland 4. Their arrest was the culmination of an FBI-created plot to place (fake, government-supplied) explosives under the base of a bridge and brand Occupy activists as “terrorists.” On this anniversary, we should pause. Take a moment to think about what was done to the Cleveland 4, the consequences they continue to suffer and the support they need, and how their case is a reflection of the bigger political moment in which we are living—and what that requires of us.
The plot to blow up a bridge was the result of months of coercion by a paid government informant and elaborate orchestration by the FBI. In a common pattern since 9/11, the FBI created a terrorism plot, entrapped vulnerable people in it, supplied the materials, and then supposedly heroically captured the made up “terrorists”—reassuring the public that the government would protect them…from a threat that never really existed. In addition to being used against the Cleveland 4 as anarchists in the Occupy movement in an attempt to quell it, this pattern has repeatedly been used to entrap young Muslim men and manufacture Islamophobia. And the pattern will surely continue to be used and adapted. As long as the FBI issues press releases that smear people across the media as “terrorists,” the State will continue to use the crafted narrative to justify its Orwellian surveillance and COINTELPRO tactics that tear apart individuals, communities, and movements.
We have a responsibility to see through the smoke and mirrors, to criticize and expose how the State uses so-called “terrorism” to suit its interests by stirring up fears—and recognize that this political landscape is not an accident, but a State power that our organizing must take into consideration. And we have to not let Brandon, Connor, Doug, and Skelly be lost in the smoke and mirrors; rather, our support of them should be a beautiful showing of resistance through taking care of each other. When the State tries to take our loved ones from us, we have to still hold on in all the ways that we can through the walls of prison.
[This letter is from the first week of April, 2013]
I am doing good. We are in our second week of lock-down. The whole prison compound is locked down. I also wanted to tell everyone that has written me, thank you very much. It has been very helpful during my incarceration to get letters and cards from people that care. I find it hard to not think about all the people that claimed they were my friends but I have not heard them once since I've gotten locked up. Also I wanted to address the fact that we can still buy limited items while we're locked down. Including soap, shampoo, lotion, batteries and stamps. But get this, we cannot buy paper, pens, pencils, envelopes. What's good, is being able to buy stamps but not paper, pens or envelope. So, if I don’t reply to your letters please keep writing cause support through the mail is the only thing helping me get through this. Please when you write, put the stamp halfway down the envelope so its not marked when it goes through the mail. When we get out of lock-down I'll be able to reply to everyone's letters. As it is, I'm almost out of paper and my pen is almost dead.
Call CCA Prison Warden to demand proper food rations for Skelly's health.
Skelly is not receiving the amount of food that it is medically documented that he needs. We are organizing a day to have everyone call in and tell the Warden or the Assistant Warden that we know about these needs and that they are not being met.
The call in day will be Thursday February 28, please call anytime between 9am-4pm.
The name of the Assistant Warden is Johnson The name of the Warden is Pugh
The number for the facility is 330-746-3777, please call, select option "3" (not option 2, as we said earlier) and ask to speak to either the Warden or the Assistant Warden.
Sample Script: Hi my name is _________ and I am calling in regards to prisoner #57976-060 Joshua Stafford. For medical reasons Joshua needs increased caloric intake, and has yet to be provided with additional food rations. Please address this oversight of Joshua's caloric needs as both his family and friends are concerned about his health and well being.
*** They will tell you that he needs to get the request approved through medical, but this has already happened; the hold up is with the kitchen or the administration. They will put it on Skelly to talk to medical or his counsellor about it. We need to remind the prison that it's their responsibility to make sure he's getting the medical care his doctor has recommended. ***