Five Apparent Anarchists Arrested In Plot To Bomb Cleveland Bridge » ADL Blogs
Latest Developments and Trends in Extremism & Terrorism
May 1, 2012 0

Five Apparent Anarchists Arrested In Plot To Bomb Cleveland Bridge

Update — June 13, 2013: Joshua Stafford was con­victed of con­spir­ing to use a weapon of mass destruc­tion on June 13. He faces up to life-in-prison. The other four sus­pects have all pleaded guilty and were sen­tenced to between six and ten years in prison. 

Five Ohio men were arrested Mon­day night after allegedly attempt­ing to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge “to send a mes­sage to cor­po­ra­tions and the United States government.”

The five men, Dou­glas Wright, Bran­don Bax­ter, Anthony Hayne, Con­nor Stevens, and Joshua Stafford, had been con­sid­er­ing acts of vio­lence for months, accord­ing to fed­eral agents. Two of the men placed what they believed to be explo­sive devices at the bridge and tried to remotely det­o­nate it. The devices, how­ever, were inert and pro­vided by the FBI as part of a sting operation.

Wright, Bax­ter, and Hayne have been charged with con­spir­acy and attempted use of explo­sives; charges against Stevens and Stafford are pending.

All five men were appar­ently involved in Occupy Cleve­land protests and have been char­ac­ter­ized by law enforce­ment or self-identify as anar­chists. Hayne, Stafford, and Bax­ter list the move­ment as their “employer” on their Face­book pages.

In recorded con­ver­sa­tion with the FBI, Bax­ter dis­cussed the impact of blow­ing up a bridge. “Tak­ing out a bridge in the busi­ness dis­trict would cost the…corporate big wigs a lot of money,” he said. Wright believed that the Occupy Move­ment had been coopted by “cor­po­rate Amer­i­can and law enforce­ment” and that there­fore they needed new recruits from out­side the movement.

The media coor­di­na­tor for Occupy Cleve­land denied any knowl­edge of the planned attack, but acknowl­edged that some mem­bers of the move­ment are acquainted with the suspects.

Baxter’s anti-capitalist views were voiced in inter­view last month dur­ing a protest in Cleve­land against home fore­clo­sures. “…I feel 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…”

The five men allegedly con­sid­ered other tar­gets for attack, includ­ing the local Fed­eral Reserve Bank and law enforce­ment Fusion Cen­ter, before set­tling on the bridge. Bax­ter inquired into tar­get­ing the Klan or other neo-Nazi groups in Ohio, but was dis­suaded when he was told they were not in Cleve­land. He claimed to have pre­vi­ously par­tic­i­pated in a protest against the Klan in Oak­land, California.

The planned attack was allegedly timed to coin­cide with May Day, a cel­e­bra­tion of Inter­na­tional Work­ers Day that has been seized upon by anar­chist and anti-capitalist groups around the world. May Day events around the world have often fea­tured prop­erty destruc­tion and arrests.