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September 24, 2012 0

Anti-Israel Teach-in Held During Occupy Wall Street “Free University Week”

A work­ing group affil­i­ated with the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) move­ment held a teach-in over the week­end on advo­cat­ing for and sup­port­ing Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel. The group, known as the “Global Jus­tice Work­ing Group,” used the ses­sion to demo­nize Israel and to demon­strate how the pro-BDS agenda goes hand-in-hand with the goals of OWS.

A sign at the Occupy BDS teach-in New York

The event was held on Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 22, as part of an OWS-organized week­long pro­gram in New York called “Free Uni­ver­sity Week.”

Speak­ers dur­ing the event con­demned Israel as a “Euro­pean set­tler move­ment” and Israeli pol­icy as extremely oppres­sive. Riham Bargh­outi, a found­ing mem­ber of the Pales­tin­ian Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (PACBI) and activist with Adalah-NY, a local pro-boycott group, described the sit­u­a­tion for Pales­tini­ans as a “strug­gle of indige­nous peo­ple against col­o­niz­ing set­tler tac­tics.” Another speaker accused Israel of hav­ing “vio­lated every arti­cle in the 4th Geneva Con­ven­tion.” The speak­ers rep­re­sented a vari­ety of domes­tic anti-Israel groups, includ­ing Adalah-NY, Punks against Apartheid, New York­ers against the Cornell-Technion Part­ner­ship and CODEPINK’s “Stolen Beauty” cam­paign, which calls for a boy­cott of AHAVA products.

The activists also repeat­edly sought to demon­strate that  the goals of OWS and the BDS move­ment are inter­con­nected. One OWS speaker, for exam­ple, warned the par­tic­i­pants that Israel trains Amer­i­can law enforce­ment and equips police with weaponry and riot con­trol tools. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Occupy Oak­land move­ment then delib­er­ately “con­nected the dots,” alleg­ing that the “same type of tear gas being used against them [Occupy Oak­land] is being used against the Palestinians.”

Saturday’s event rep­re­sents the lat­est effort by anti-Israel activists to inject their cause into the now year-old OWS social protest move­ment. Up until now, these efforts – which included wav­ing anti-Israel signs and chant­ing anti-Israel slo­gans at OWS demon­stra­tions – were not offi­cially sanc­tioned by OWS or any of its affil­i­ated groups. In what could be a pos­si­ble shift, the teach-in was spon­sored by a group for­mally tied to OWS and was pro­moted on the offi­cial New York Gen­eral Assem­bly web­site, which hosts con­tent from “dozens of groups work­ing together to orga­nize and set the vision for the #occu­py­wall­street move­ment.

While one might imag­ine that a group called “Global Jus­tice Work­ing Group” would focus on a vari­ety of issues of global injus­tice, the group seems to main­tain a sin­gu­lar focus on crit­i­ciz­ing Israel. Indeed, its Face­book page and web­site are reg­u­larly updated with anti-Israel con­tent, includ­ing claims that Israeli check­points are a “tool of sup­pres­sion” and calls for the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers to refuse to per­form in Israel. [The con­cert was held as planned on Sep­tem­ber 10.]

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May 23, 2012 0

Anarchist Arrests Mark NATO Summit

Five indi­vid­u­als have been arrested by Chicago police in three sep­a­rate bomb-related cases dur­ing the lead-up to the recent NATO Summit.

Three men were arrested in a raid last Wednes­day in con­nec­tion to an alleged plot to attack Pres­i­dent Obama’s cam­paign head­quar­ters and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home, as well as police and finan­cial insti­tu­tions. The men were in pos­ses­sion of Molo­tov cock­tails and instruc­tions for mak­ing pipe bombs, accord­ing to court documents.

The sus­pects, who have been iden­ti­fied as Brian Church, 22 from Florida, Jared Chase, 27 from New Hamp­shire, and Brent Bet­terly, 24 from Mass­a­chu­setts, are all self-described anar­chists. The three trav­eled to Chicago together from Florida, where they were report­edly involved with the Occupy Movement.

Last month, five self-described anar­chists with ties to the Occupy Move­ment were arrested in Ohio after allegedly attempt­ing to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge “to send a mes­sage to cor­po­ra­tions and the United States government.”

Sebas­t­ian Senakiewicz, a 24-year-old self-described anar­chist, was also arrested in Chicago for mak­ing a false ter­ror­is­tic threat. Pros­e­cu­tors said Senakiewicz was unsat­is­fied with the relative-calm lead­ing up to the NATO Sum­mit and allegedly bragged he could blow up a down­town bridge. He report­edly claimed he had access to a vehi­cle packed with explo­sives and weapons.

In fifth man, Mark Nei­weem, 28, was charged with attempted pos­ses­sion of explo­sives. While charg­ing doc­u­ments do not men­tion tar­gets or his motives, the charges assert that he asked other pro­test­ers for mate­ri­als to con­struct a pipe bomb.

Nei­weem is report­edly a mem­ber of the Anar­chist Black Cross (ABC) and fre­quented their online chat rooms. ABC is a national col­lec­tive that aims to sup­port and defend polit­i­cal pris­on­ers and has indi­cated sup­port for class war (abol­ish­ing cap­i­tal­ism). Some ABC “col­lec­tives” merged into a fed­er­a­tion advo­cat­ing armed self-defense through its Tac­ti­cal Defense Cau­cus, which it hoped would orga­nize, recruit and train anar­chists in the tac­ti­cal use of firearms. In his tes­ti­mony before the Sen­ate Com­mit­tee on Intel­li­gence in Feb­ru­ary of 2005, Robert Mueller, Direc­tor of the FBI, iden­ti­fied the fed­er­a­tion as a poten­tial threat to national security.

Other anar­chists clashed with police at the end of an oth­er­wise peace­ful anti-war protest Sun­day, lead­ing to dozens more arrests.

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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.

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