Before it was the Cleveland 4, it was the Cleveland 5 -- but the fifth defendant, Anthony Hayne, cooperated with the government against the others in order to get a reduced sentence and so was dropped from receiving community support. Hayne has now been released from prison into a halfway house.
While people should know to be cautious of Hayne and remember that it is never safe to let him back into our communities, the real focus should be on Brandon, Connor, Doug, and Josh -- and the continued support they deserve.
As Hayne walked out of prison, the Cleveland 4 still have years left: Brandon has 3 years 9 months, Connor has 2 years 4 months, Doug has 5 years 3 months, and Josh has 4 years 7 months. These years that they still have left are because they chose to not cooperate with the government -- they instead chose to stay on the side of their friends, to not be pressured into turning their backs on their community. In return, they deserve community support.
Let Hayne's release from prison be a reminder that every day that Brandon, Connor, Doug, and Josh have left in prison should be a day that they feel our support. They're still in there because of their dedication to solidarity with others; we have a responsibility to show solidarity with them.
Some words from Cleveland4 supporters on this day.
The Cleveland 4 are always in need of funds, Right now we don't even have enough to send them 50$ each for next month. The majority of their commisary donations go to food, phone calls, letters, hygeine products and clothes. Every penny donated is a HUGE help. http://www.gofundme.com/cleveland4
It's been two years since the Cleveland 4 got arrested. It's been 2 years since my whole world went flying in every direction while I frantically tried grasping on to the pieces. I remember the days before they were entrapped and taken away. They where used and they were taken away because we decided to fight back against injustice. They are gone because we decided to fight back against corruption.
I'll never forget their first day in court; the sound of their chains rattling against the floor of a Cleveland federal court room. I had never seen them so distraught, so gray. I tried my best to mask my tears. It took everything I had not to scream and reach out to them to hug and tell them "It's going to be ok!"
The first visit was heart wrenching. I hardly slept the night before and I drank coffee for the first time on my way. Chain smoking every ounce of nicotine I could possibly fill my lungs with. Then we sat in that CCA lobby. I remember thinking how cold it felt. Unwelcoming.. My hands shook as we went through those first set of bars. It felt suffocating sitting between those locked metal doors, just waiting to see my friends, my comrades, my family. We talked, and smiled, and tried to laugh as much as we could muster. Tried talking as fast as we could because every second was closer to having to leave. Then I went to see Brandon, my lover at the time. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to bring up what had happened, I just wanted to give him an hour to be happy, not dwell on what had run through his mind every moment since the arrest. He just needed to smile. All I could think to do was press my hand against that plexi-glass that separated us from leaping into each others arms. We pressed out foreheads together and just smiled, taking in as much as we could. I'll never forget how heart breaking it was to leave that day. The few hours it took to drive home seemed like a eternity, a never ending highway.