The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Self-Described Anarchists in Ohio Terror Plot Plead Guilty

By Bill Morlin on September 6, 2012 - 3:06 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Klan, Trial Updates

Four of five self-proclaimed anarchists – calling themselves the Revolutionary People’s Party – have now confessed to involvement in a conspiracy in late April to use C-4 explosives to blow up an interstate highway bridge near Cleveland.

After their arrests, most of the suspects quickly agreed to discuss their plans with FBI agents during middle-of-the-night interviews. One of the would-be bombers said he just wanted to go to sleep and forget everything, court documents disclose.

Douglas L. Wright, 26, of Indianapolis; Brandon L. Baxter, 20, of Lakewood, Ohio; and Connor C. Stevens, 20, of Berea, Ohio, all pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. district court in Cleveland. Each admitted conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and attempted use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce.

A fourth defendant, Anthony M. Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty to those same charges on July 25, agreeing to become a prosecution witnesses against his co-defendants if they took their cases to trial. They, in turn, entered into plea negotiations with federal prosecutors, leading to Tuesday’s pleas. Dates for sentencing haven’t been set, but the defendants likely will face substantial prison time.

The pleas leave just one defendant, Joshua Stafford, 23, of Cleveland, whose case will be scheduled for trial separately after a court-ordered evaluation is completed.

The five were arrested April 30, just hours before their planned act of terrorism was to coincide with May 1 antigovernment, anti-establishment protests planned in Cleveland and other U.S. cities. The C-4 explosive devices, which were inert, were purchased by the suspects the day before their arrests from a man who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, according to court documents. The FBI said the public was never in danger.

“We are pleased these defendants have admitted to their intent to utilize violence, which threatened innocent citizens, to further their ideological views,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony said. “The safety of our citizens is and continues to be the FBI’s primary focus as demonstrated by this investigation. The Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international.”

After Hayne’s guilty plea in July, defense attorneys for the remaining defendants indicated they would offer an entrapment defense. Stevens’ attorney filed a motion to block the prosecution’s use of statements made by the defendants following their arrests. Court documents show Wright’s attorney also filed a motion for a separate trial based in part on those incriminating statements.

Federal prosecutors countered, filing documents indicating they planned to use post-arrest statements if the cases went to trial. Those documents include excerpts of statements made by the defendants.

“Honestly, the intent was to bring the bridge down,” Baxter told FBI agents, according to one government document. “I didn’t think there was enough (C-4) to do it. I just wanted to have it shut down for a few days. Stop, uh, flow of money for a few days from that area.”

The plotters intended to use a mobile phone to detonate two four-pound boxes of C-4 – a military-grade explosive – that were placed at the base of the Route 82 bridge crossing the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, south of downtown Cleveland.

The anarchists initially discussed using smoke grenades to distract law enforcement while co-conspirators would use explosives to topple signs atop high-rise financial institutions in downtown Cleveland. They also discussed bombing a Ku Klux Klan gathering spot or a Federal Reserve Bank.

The defendants apparently formed the Revolutionary People’s Party after they grew disappointed with the lack of action by people in the Occupy Movement, with whom they had been affiliated.

“I’ve been working with Occupy and it’s like I can’t even get them to do anything that would upset people,” Baxter told FBI agents, according to court documents.  Those he met in the Occupy Movement, Baxter said, wouldn’t “disrupt traffic … do anything illegal. A lot of laws are, are ridiculous. Can’t even get people to jay walk half the time in a march, or take the march off the sidewalk into the street.  It’s like, ridiculous.”

Baxter said at one point during his interview with the FBI that he thought about backing out of the plot, not for fear of causing casualties and damage, but because of the way the act of terrorism would be viewed.

“Yeah, [I] thought the corporate media would spin it as a bunch of crazy people who do what crazy people do, not as a, uh, politically driven thing.”

Stevens’ attorney argued for suppression of statements he made in a videotaped interview with agents, contending it was conducted under coercive conditions. But prosecutors countered by saying that wasn’t the case, that Stevens was given a blanket to get warm after his handcuffs were removed and later was allowed a cigarette and coffee break during the nearly four-hour interview with agents.

While being read his Miranda rights, Stevens told agents, “I feel like if I, if I exercise my right to remain silent, then I won’t be treated quite as kindly.”

To this, Special Agent Jared “Jake” Ruddy told the young anarchist he was “gonna have nothing but kindness from us. … We don’t operate any other way.”

To that, Stevens replied, “Well, I’ve been impressed so far, but –.”As he proceeded to read his advice of rights form, Stevens “teased” agents, referring to appointed defense attorneys as “public pretenders” and “kidding with the (FBI) agents about torture.”

Once Stevens agreed to answer questions, the FBI agent “asked what his initial thoughts were.” Stevens responded, “I just wanna go to sleep … and forget about everything.”

  • aadila

    Charles, I respect your position on non-violence but wasn’t Thomas Paine in fact a deist (not atheist) who was highly critical of religion as an instrument of social control? Or am I misinterpreting the connection to your views and those of Thomas Paine? Don’t get me wrong, I see no conflict with having both firm moral fiber and no special belief in God.

    In fact, I would even say that firm moral fiber is what leads some people to religion, rather than the other way around.

  • Charles Dan Austin

    I openly call myself an atheist-anarchist but say no to violence because it never accomplishes anything. That is an historical truth going back to Thomas Paine one of the founders of our country.

  • punkmar77

    Out of the dozens of entrapment cases involving ‘anarchists’ in the last few years, a surprising number of these kids have turned out to be bored young activists very new to the idea of anarchism with a primarily distorted and undeveloped concept of what anarchism is, usually following an older activist that insidiously suggest escalating ‘revolutionary’ actions…This is not anarchism, it is nothing but fantasy league revolution…what exactly was blowing up that bridge supposed to accomplish? Notice how the older provocateur always turns out to be the informant…as I a life long anarchist I find the loose term anarchist used again and again to describe individuals engaged in botched attempts of sabotage…please do not confuse the two…anyone can claim to be anything in life, but actions speak much louder than words.

  • swaneagle

    All over the country the FBI is setting up naive anarchist youth to commit crimes. I find this particularly disgusting as so many young people have few decent role models these days. To see the feds exploiting disaffected youth is so typical of corporate backed militarism targeting anyone who has no love for a warmonger, greed driven society that is dumping the vulnerable in the streets as no decent safety nets exist anymore; not to mention that it costs so much to survive that millions of poor children are going hungry; there are no meaningful jobs; elderly face destitution and all the dreams are being eliminated as globalization continues choking the masses to death. Shame on all the FBI infiltrators who criminalize these youth. Wonder what would happen if such judas goats were to really care and offer something inspiring to youth rather than setting them up to ruin their lives. This is simply disgusting and i have always had issues with SPLC being so buddy buddy with corrupt FBI, also known for it’s hideous racism that never has been fully addressed.

  • aadila

    Just to connect the dots, is Mitt Romney, or is he not, a white person who has profitted rather handsomely from the private prison industry?

  • Erika

    aadila, i could be wrong, but i believe that one of the names you will see profiting from private prisons is “Bain Capital”

  • Confused

    This article confuses me. It is under “Hatewatch,” but the subjects of the story were associated with the Occupy Movement. When did they shift to the right and does their supporters on the left know that they have switched?

  • aadila

    It would be very interesting to discover some racial demographics on who owns and profits from the prisons that make our nation of “freedom” the number one police state in the world.

    Why do I want to say white people?

  • CoralSea

    Erika — Yes — I am aware of some of the FBI’s (or, more specifically, J. Edgar Hoover’s) paranoia about African American civil rights organizations and his “file” on Martin Luther King, Jr. But I didn’t want to draw the circle on the federal level, since a lot of the abuses regarding residents of poor neighborhoods are perpetrated at the local level!

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    David, what proof is there that they were leaders in the occupy movement? Occupy does not have “leaders,” nor is it correct to say they want “more government” or higher taxes. You are clearly not very well versed in politics.

  • Erika

    Apparently Annie has never heard the expression that a Liberal is a Conservative who has been indicted.

    Which is to say that generally exposure to the criminal justice system and going to prison does not make educated middle class pr higher white people conservative racists – it makes them realize what poor black people have known about our justice system for years,

    In any case, almost all American prisons are majority white

  • Erika

    Actually, Coral Sea African Americans were sometimes victimized by the Justice Department – especially the component known as the “Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

  • Reynardine

    David, if you are setting up as a mindreader, you’d better practice a few more years.

  • David

    It is just asinine to call these thugs anarchists. They were leaders in the occupy movement. They wanted more government and higher taxes. They were not anarchists.

  • CM

    Reynardine,

    I just found out about the Golden Anvil and am honored beyond expression. Nae, iste magno conato, magnas nugas dixerit.

  • Jenn

    The Occupy movement is a Radical LEFT Wing movement. Don’t try to push your lunatics off on the Right just because the Occupy movement has now been abandoned by all of it’s political heavies – Obama, Pelosi and others. This page should be called Keeping an eye on the radical LEFT!!

    Don’t you guys ever get anything right? :-)

  • CoralSea

    Correction — African Americans haven’t been victimized by the “Justice Department,” but by the “Justice system.” My proof-reading skills have gone seriously downhill lately. Sorry

  • CoralSea

    Frankly, I don’t see wasting wording from “The Second Coming” on these clowns. Other, maybe, than to say “Moving their slow thighs”…to the Seven/Eleven to buy Slurpees and probably Ho-Ho’s.

    Annie — your ideas are utterly repellent. It amazes me that people cling to such nonsense. Do you have no dealings with anyone but “white” people? I have been mugged twice — once by a black man and once by a white teenaged boy. In both cases, I fought back and did as much damage to them as they did to me. Contrary to the old saw, “a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged,” I don’t project evil intentions on to all blacks — nor onto all teenaged boys. People are people.

    I should add that I was in a really bad car accident four and a half years ago (Honda Civic eaten by semi-tractor-trailer going 60 mph during rush hour on an Interstate. Fortunately, I walked away, although the Civic was a gnarled ball of wreckage after being pushed by the semi down the Interstate for almost a mile after it veered into my lane, hit me in back, spun me around and hit me broadside –repeatedly spinning and hitting, although only by the truck.)

    Anyway, we (meaning the semi, and the remains of the Civic, and me) were in the center lane of a six-lane Interstate, clogging up rush hour. I was rather shocked at the WHITE PEOPLE who flipped me the bird and mouthed insults as they crept by (and this was while I was still trapped in the car and wedged against the grill of the semi). Two cars, with four guys collectively in them, stopped to render help before the emergency responders arrived. They were the ones who managed to get me out of the car, since the front passenger door, which was the least damaged, was the only one that could be muscled open. Guess what? The four men were all Latino, three of whom spoke only limited English (I speak passable Spanish). They were incredibly concerned and comforting.

    So — am I to infer that white people are rude jerks because some of them flipped me off when I was still trapped in a mangled car? No. The people who flipped me off might have been perennial jerks — or they might have simply been having very bad days themselves. I don’t know. Are all Latinos nice, good guys? The ones I’ve met all have been (with the exception of some gang members I work with periodically, although they are always nice to me).

    As for African Americans — obviously the ones who are friends of mine are nice and cool and smart, because I don’t tend to have friends who are jerks. I do know that many African Americans as individuals, and African American populations in some areas (often poor neighborhoods) have been seriously victimized by the justice department. They don’t have the money to afford good legal representation — unlike higher-income whites, who often get off due to “good lawyering” that casts “reasonable doubt.” Whole neighborhoods can become stigmatized, with the assumption that if you live there, you are a criminal. This is a national disgrace, and at this point, it is driven in large part by an increasingly privatized corrections industry that has a vested interest in pushing for laws that lock up as many people as possible.

    So — Annie, you need to begin seeing people as people. If they look different than you, or sound different than you, this does not mean that they are “wrong” or threatening. Rather, if you continue to be an idiot racist, it simply means that YOU are paranoid and very, very narrow in terms of viewpoint.

  • Reynardine

    Aw, Hell, Sawdust Annie isn’t even original.

  • Alan Taylor

    Um … These guys are listed with a heading on the site of “Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right”, but isn’t the Occupy Movement a left-wing movement? And aren’t anarchists considered to be very, very “left”?

    Certainly they meant to be terrorists, and radicals, but no fair calling them “radical Right”.

  • Elron Aven

    Radical right?!?!?

    Shark jump.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    I read the report of the informant which was made publicly available online. If we totally believe the informant, it’s hard to prove entrapment because one of them was talking about doing some kind of illegal action and he agreed to buy the explosives. Of course that’s just the informant’s story.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Annie, US prisons used to be, until about the 1960s’, mostly white. How do you explain the rapid change after about 1964?

    In any case, people in prison, of any race, tend not to be the best representatives of their people.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Annie/Jason Smith is back again!

    Complete with sex change…here strictly to derail the discussion!

    So, Annie/Jason…do tell us how the Holocaust never happened!

    Then tell us how the Russian people greeted their Nazi invaders with flowers!

    Then tell us how Norman Rockwell sided with Hitler!

    Then show us your proof that the white man is superior to the black man!

    And tell us again how you’ll prove it to us, only if we pay you vast sums of money, showing that you’re into neo-Nazism and junior Fascism for that noblest of purposes…the money!

    Then you can give us citations and evidence for all these wacky ideas!

    Until then, the tumbrels await for you!

    See? I don’t even have to think in dealing with him…I just cut-and-paste my own stuff!

  • Janet

    Why does the top of the page say “keeping an eye on the radical right?” I thought these people belong to the “extreme radical left,”obama even felt sympathy for the occupy movement,(astroturf and a few misguided people) Oh yea unemployment is still above 8% and has been for over 40 months. 23 million unemployed. He keeps bashing people who own business and then expects people to hire? Bill clinton speaking at the DNC? Whats up with that? What about the “war on women?” This man cheated on poor hilary and lied about it to the whole world and has been accused of rape!. God was not wanted at the DNC! They denied him 3 times! This explains all the abortion talk in the democrat party. They are pro-death and not pro-life. God will not be mocked and I will not vote this time around either for a Godless party! Jesus is the King and not obama!

  • aadila

    Someone has to go to prison for all the white people who are never prosecuted for their crimes. Why not blacks? After all if we stopped having the highest per capita prison population anywhere in the world, words like freedom and equality would lose their sting. And we can’t have that, can we Annie?

  • Reynardine

    Poor Annie. Did we neglect you?

  • Aron

    Annie, why don’t YOU do that? Maybe you’ll discover that black folks aren’t quite as evil as you believe.

    Fat chance on that one, though.

  • Annie

    Begin program

    a.) Go to a majority black prison for a very long time

    b.) Find out what blacks are really like

    c.) Loop to (a). Repeat process for every white liberal in America

    Result: Every white multiculturalist converted.

    End program. $Problem solved.

  • Pat Junko

    Why is this story published under the heading of “Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right?” This proves that SPLC, a radical left group, is willing to misrepresent in order to smear conservatives. Do you slander anyone with whom you disagree? All your links are to radical leftist groups and blogs. Do you think that radical leftists do not commit terrorist acts? What a worthless group of radicals you must be!

  • Reynardine

    In fact, agents and local bureaus look for patsies to push over, so it looks like they’re really making their bones. A case in my salad days actually involved an agent seducing a young woman and pleading with her to get him some drugs, so he could bust her. She finally got off on an entrapment defense, and a few years later, someone deliberately ran him down with a high-speed motor launch while he was engaged in some kind of water sport, knocked him into the drink, and then ran him over, keel and screws and all, managing to permanently wreck his weenie in the process. But justice is seldom so neatly served.

  • Robert Pinkerton

    Everything I read about those ding-dings, from any source derived, suggests to me that they were babes in the woods. That was the necessary precondition to entrapment by a (possibly coerced?) provocateur. The provocateur’s offer sounded too good to be true. If the “Cleveland 5″ did not recognize that, then their very maturity is questionable.

  • Reynardine

    With the first rays of dawn, I am mortally sleepy: good night, and good luck.

  • Reynardine

    This week, I am awarding the Golden Anvil to CM, though many are worthy. The Shuttle, having already been futilely awarded to BB, who never came back from outer space but just blew it up, is not available for NWO, who just merits the Gold (cheaply plated lead) Hammerhead.

    Aadila has received the Epigrammy for her “rubber hits the road” remark. And to Kiwiwriter, I give a Gold Astrolabe for apprising us of the threat proposed by the Anglo-French Condominium before its independence as Vanuatu thwarted its plans to smother world morality in Condoms®.

    Surely I am leaving many out. I’ll make amends as I recover from insomnia.

  • Reynardine

    Persons willing to do civic duty by volunteering for fact-checking the Presidential/veep candidates for truthfulness and consistency, please contact sarahjones@politicususa.com. Standard operating procedure is watching the candidates on news shows and noting when they contradict either known facts, themselves, or their running mates. People with greater skills, such as the ability to see through walls, are even more welcome. Fear it only pays in gold stars, which, however, will have as many points and be pointed in whatever direction the requestor wants.

    I can’t help much, because my TV is broken, but promised to do what I could + pass it along.

  • Reynardine

    Life
    is an anarchist.
    Turmoil is her lover;
    her child is Strife.
    Insurgent Spring
    takes her to wife.
    If you want control
    or any such thing
    shoot Life.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Locker, I usually don’t defend anarchists, but that’s not what anarchy is. It doesn’t mean “chaos.” It’s supposed to be a society without hierarchical authority.

  • Locker

    Anarchists are morons. It’s not surprising they’d form a party or do some stupid crap like this plot to blow up a bridge. How can these guys not realize if there really was anarchy then someone could just kill them for being stupid without repercussions?

  • adamhill

    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity. -Yeats

    I’m sure glad these clowns didn’t succeed.

  • Kiwiwriter

    If these guys weren’t planning to cause death and destruction on a major scale, they would be hilariously funny.

    They certainly stand out as among America’s most idiotic revolutionaries. “I just want to sleep and forget everything.” We’ll, he’ll have plenty of time in prison to remember.

  • Reynardine

    Mitch, those guys don’t know how to be anarchists, and they don’t know how to party. To paraphrase Hemingway, cats are the best anarchists in the world, and they sure know how to party. Though maybe excelled by foxes, who sure know what’s good. Breast of (my) chicken; nice, fragrant, perfectly ripe (my) Golden Muscat grapes…that’s why my current rooster lives in the house.

  • CoralSea

    Reynardine — thank heavens for that! This has been an odd week for some reason, and I was wondering if I needed to step up my medication (emoticon of smiley face with tongue hanging out the side of mouth).

    I did find this story to be pathetic in a different way than the usual “these people are barking mad and evil,” or “these people are totally crazy” way that characterizes the usual oddballs who are the subjects of SPLC blog posts. These guys were just…well, I keep going back to mouth–breathingly pathetic. Not that I’m complaining.

  • aadila

    Well it’s a good thing they didn’t bomb the KKK headquarters because then the KKK would be accusing SPLC of being a hate group.

  • Mitch Beales

    Ruslan you malign anarchists when you suggest that they don’t know how to party.

  • Reynardine

    No, you’re not at all. If such an award is ever concocted, though, it will be a Periscope, so the paranoid in question can peer out from behind furniture at persons who might be coming to get him/her.

    You don’t qualify, though.

  • CoralSea

    These guys seem like real “mouth breathers.” Just the sort who wouldn’t “get” the idea behind Occupy.

    I have to say, though, that I always worry a bit about the whole idea of the FBI providing inert explosives to them. Not, of course, because the explosives were inert (thank heavens for that, although I could see these geniuses simply blowing themselves up with them), but because I find myself wondering to what extent undercover investigators are actually provoking acts such as this to demonstrate how important they are to national security. (Also, local law enforcement certainly displayed some ridiculous over-reaction to peaceful Occupy protesters in both California and New York, although I haven’t heard that they FBI or other federal agencies had done anything outrageous.)

    I am well aware that many dangerous groups exist — one cannot read this website and not realize that — but I still have to put this out there. It worries me when undercover collaborators are involved. We saw a lot of incidents in the 60s where the “radicals” who actually perpetrated some of the more provocative acts were in fact law enforcement undercovers, and from what I understand, this has happened at least a few times in the last 10 years when Muslims have been goaded into activities that could have led to terrible consequences.

    Sorry — I don’t usually take this tack in my comments, and I tend to scorn the vast majority of conspiracy theories (as most of the other commenters here know), but for some reason, this particular story makes me wonder. Perhaps it’s simply because only limited information was provided, but there was a certain surreal quality to it (although idiots can and do perpetrate terrible acts, even if they are clueless like these guys appear to be).

    That’s my two-cents. Hopefully I won’t end up on some watch list because of it. (Oh no! Am I going to get a golden paranoid award this week, Reynardine???)

  • Tom Shelley

    I only read about 1/3 of this article, but I read the last one on the same topic and I am still very annoyed that they are charged with conspiracy to use WMDs. I’m not sure how various govts etc. define WMD, but it seems to me that the incredibly indiscriminate nature of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons is what makes them much more worse than regular explosives, etc. I think you might also refer to the fact that they have long-lasting affects on stuff like the water supply.

    I am just really frustrated and pissed off that that’s what they’re being charged with.

    Tom

  • Sam Molloy

    That’s a beautiful bridge. If they could straighten out that bad curve on the east side of Cleveland with explosives they could get a Highway Dept contract to do it.

  • Reynardine

    Well, Ruslan, they may have called themselves both anarchists and a party without the faintest idea what either one is.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Very strange that a group of anarchists would form something called a “party.” Of course anarchists often form all kinds of hierarchical organizations but they usually use different terminology.

    Also, this:

    “While being read his Miranda rights, Stevens told agents, “I feel like if I, if I exercise my right to remain silent, then I won’t be treated quite as kindly.”

    ^^^^^^
    NEVER DO THIS.