Remember the dead – Solidarity for the living by Brandon Baxter.

From Cleveland 4 Solidarity:

Originally published in Wildfire: Issue 2

Remember the dead – Solidarity for the living by Brandon Baxter.

Every day we spend in these cages is a day of our lives we will never get back. They are limited in the same way that there are only so many fingers on our hands; limbs on our bodies.

  • All the cherished memories we will never have.
  • All the moments we won’t have to hold onto.
  • Each day, a piece of our lives, torn from us, like cutting off our fingers, one knuckle at a time.

The police once killed with impunity. Today they answer to the mob, The People’s Justice.

But the sad reality is that if Michael Brown were arrested and given a life sentence Ferguson would have never burned. He would have been mutilated, one day at a time. No one would have known his name, not even when he died in prison.

As of writing, the oppressed riot in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the police. The Left will, as always, attempt to recuperate this momentum. Indeed, I have read articles by these liberals defending looting as a legitimate form of protest.

…of protest…Is that all this is? Demanding reform; police accountability? Is this a problem to be solved by taxing the People hundreds of millions of dollars to put a body camera on every cop on the beat?

That’s the narrative we’re up against. And if the mob isn’t challenged to make a deeper analysis of the web of oppression it’s beginning to fight against, that is the reality we will face: more cops and an even more omnipresent surveillance state.

If Freddie Gray hadn’t died but were sitting in a holding tank, would there be any less reason for what’s taking place in Baltimore today?

  • We must remember the dead. But the living are dying.
  • Every day.
  • Let’s try being a little less reactionary (it makes us predictable, taking away the advantages of spontaneity).

Let us channel this righteous fury into concise decisive strategy in our fight for the living.

“Visions, not blueprints: an open letter from an anarchist prisoner”

A beautiful recent letter from U.S. anarchist political prisoner Connor Stevens who was entrapped by the FBI under the farce called the ‘war on terror’ and is serving prison time. Give them some support.
http://www.cleveland4solidarity.org/content/connor-stevens

“Visions, not blueprints: an open letter from an anarchist prisoner”

“We are an image from the future.”
— graffiti in greece, 2008

Rebellion has ruptured the placid suffering of yesterday.
Those of us who have acknowledged the ongoing class war in this society, siding with the oppressed, have seen these moments before. Moments where the police are turned back, overran; where anything becomes possible after they have been routed. But always these moments were brief glimpses of what we are capable of — always control reestablishes itself and snuffs out the many worlds we are creating. Never before in my lifetime has rebellion been so far-spread, capable of sustaining itself for so long.
Through the flames and the clamor of street fighting we embody our collective strength, sustaining our visions of those worlds we carry in our hearts. Control was shattered, and the enemy took too long to regroup. Now youths from Brooklyn to the Bay Area have glimpsed the overwhelming possibilities of revolt.
Spontaneity ruptures all attempts at control.
The oppressed have burned the illusions of helplessness. History has returned, and we, the masses, are giving birth to the future. But birth is not simply a matter of blood and pain. We must create communities of resistance, the fertile soil for the worlds we desire. We must strive for complete autonomy — by means of growing our own food, being able to heal one another, organizing community defense groups, establishing our capacities to harness energy, to educate our people, to carve out territories where we can regroup, learn, grow, and intensify the struggle.
This is the infrastructure of resistance necessary to transform rebellion into sustained insurrection.
The streets of the united states have recently resembled the streets of Greece or Argentina, or any of dozens of other countries in which the oppressed, the poor, fight back. The wave of unrest embodied in the Occupy movement reached its high-water mark in late 2011. The current wave is far more intense, as people in this country are learning, almost from scratch, how to fight back. We are quickly arriving at that crucial chasm between riot and insurrection. We must not repeat our mistakes. We must prepare for the intensification of struggle.

“We are not in the least afraid of ruins.”
— Durrutti

The path forward must be made by walking.
All the theory, the critique, the commentary and analysis imaginable will not keep the fires burning, neither in our hearts nor in the streets. That being said, theory has its place, as does memory, and storytelling.

“As there are many demons with men’s faces
It is wrong to join hands with everyone.”
— Rumi

In October 2011 we watched the events in Oakland and elsewhere unfold on laptop screens at Occupy Cleveland. Some were shocked and horrified in the face of such overwhelming violence. i was anxious and hopeful. The police forces were cracking down on Occupy encampments across the country, and the violence in Oakland and the Bay Area more broadly had captivated many. Few in this country had ever experienced anything like that — hence the shock and horror.
But i had already come to terms with the inevitability of this struggle.
I anticipated a spiraling confrontation with the state and corporate powers due to the global manufactured economic crisis and the resistance to it. At that moment it seemed the spiral was moving from shouting and marching to property destruction and unleashing spontaneous collective power, overwhelming buildings, bridges and highways with our bodies, among other tactics. Perhaps i was a few years too early, but i may have been correct about the Occupy experiences being a process of maturation for many people. Alas, the barricades did not last and the wave was broken.

For many more, the incessant violence of the paramilitary forces against them and their relations has made it abundantly clear that murder will continue to be the daily status quo, largely with impunity — except for the consequences we inflict. The police gun people down every day. The real question is how has it taken this long for resistance to echo the gunshots and fight back against the police.
Anyone with a decent grasp of the situation overall could easily predict such forms of rebellion. i believe various state forces anticipated this, as evinced by the response of the national guard and higher-ranking forces. ne does not have to be possessed to genius to see the stormclouds.
We do not say we welcome the flood, but we are not afraid of ruins.

What we must consider is our overwhelming lack of organizational capacity to commit to intensified levels of struggle, logistically, in terms of experience, or in terms of preparedness overall. In point of fact, we cannot even give a rough estimate of our numbers.
So we must use this to our advantage. We must do without far-flung organizations and focus on our strengths, in mass revolt and spontaneity. But these do not fuel themselves, being only a point of contact in the broader struggle. A movement without teeth will still starve if it cannot feed itself.

We must learn to take this rage in our chests and transform it also into life, into gardens and dwellings and forms of energy that flow with nature, with all our relations. i am not advocating so-called “green” technologies as a solution in themselves, but rather for our capacity to exist on our own terms, to live without being dependent on the system in any way. And it is what allows us to do this that must be protected with our strengths. If the flames of revolt lack the fuel of autonomy, they will fizzle out and leave us as though castrated. And if the our fuel, our soil, our capacity to exist on our own terms, lacks flame and the capacity to harness fire, then anything we create will be easy to kill, as we constantly bear witness to.

Our greatest teachers are among the indigenous of the earth — those who live with the rest of life and not against it. They are engaged in life-or-death struggles, refusing the quiet death of assimilation of the agonizing death of starvation. We must follow their examples, creating our own ways of being that can co-exist, and defending them with our lives.

In my life i have tasted, however sparingly, the immense beauty of simply living with the flow of life, “living off the land.” If we live in harmony with the intimate web of life we develop deep, powerful bonds — a deep-rootedness vital to struggles against overwhelming odds. And we must acknowledge that we are engaged in a life-or-death struggle.

We have what it takes to finish this dying way of life and replace it with 10,000 blooming worlds.
Neither fear nor coercion will paralyze us. We refuse to forget, to die quietly.

In these passionate nights we brush against the future.

With a gentle strength from a hard place,for the next seven generations,
connor stevens

Connor Stevens | FREE THE CLEVELAND 4

Connor Steven’s Wish List

Connnor Steven’s Book Wish List (NYC ABC)

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Letter from Brandon Baxter

NYC ABC:

NOTE: The process Brandon is pursuing, the 2255, is the same one that Eric McDavid recently won.

Greetings,Letter from brandon baxter_28 jan 2015

Please consider echoing my appeal for solidarity.

I’d like to start by thanking everyone for their solidarity to this point. I’ve lived far more comfortably and with greater support than most others in prison. To be blunt, your constant insistence that I never feel forgotten has literally saved my life. I know that if early on I had not had that reassurance I would have committed suicide. So, thank you all for carrying me, kicking and screaming, throughout this.

Today I come to you with a dire need. When I plead guilty to the charges made against me I did so out of fear and ignorance. Since then I’ve grown wiser and educated myself in the law. My appeals are exhausted, and thus I am in the process of filing a 2255 writ of post conviction relief on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, which I know as a matter of fact I will win. This will remand my case back to court for trial, and I intend to fight.

I will not fight though with a puppet of the state representing me against the state. I’ve learned my lesson in trusting public defenders and court appointed attorneys. This time around I will need a hired lawyer.

This request is for two specific forms of solidarity: The time and commitment of a trustworthy lawyer bent on social justice, and for funds for a defense. I have no set figure at the moment, but imagine it to be significant. More details can be found through my support committee once figures are developed.

What we will be fighting for is pivotal. The immediate goals is physical freedom from prison – which otherwise would last another 5-6 years – and a life time of federal supervised release (probation). The long term goal is to set legal precedence which can be utilized by others in prison under similar circumstances, currently and to come, to obtain their freedom, as well as to prevent similar episodes in the future. This goal will be much more difficult to achieve, but is far from impossible. The final goal will be financial retribution for the costs of the defense itself, and for the time I’ve currently spent incarcerated, along with the psychological toll that incarceration has taken upon me. If obtained, these funds will be dedicated to reimburse all of those who have supported the Cleveland 4 to this point, and to future prisoner support endeavors.

To get in contact with my support committee, go to:
http://www.cleveland4solidarity.org, or email: cleveland4letters@gmail.com

In Love & Rage,
Brandon Baxter

Cleveland 4: Snitch Tony Hayne’s sentencing delayed amid fears he would serve more time than his former co-defendants who he agreed to testify against

From the Huffington Post:

CLEVELAND — A man who pleaded guilty in the failed plot to bomb a highway bridge won a delay in his sentencing Wednesday so he can press for a more lenient treatment than his co-defendants.

The attorney for Anthony Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, filed a request to change the guilty plea late Tuesday night with U.S. District Judge David Dowd in Akron. The judge met with attorneys Wednesday and postponed sentencing until Nov. 30.

The plea change request was conditional on whether Hayne gets a more lenient sentence than his co-defendants.

His attorney said Hayne’s plea deal in return for cooperation could still mean a longer sentence than the eight- to 11-year terms handed down Tuesday to three co-defendants.

They pleaded guilty after Hayne but without plea deals promising cooperation.

The FBI said no one was ever in danger. The device was a dud provided by an FBI informant

Hayne’s attorney, Michael O’Shea, said the plea deal called for his client to get a sentence one-half as long as his co-defendants.

Giving Hayne a longer sentence than promised would violate the spirit of the plea deal, O’Shea said. He argued in the motion that the three co-defendants pleaded guilty six weeks after Hayne in large measure because of his offer to testify against them.

Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Cleveland, said Wednesday there would be no comment on the sentencing issue.

The shortest of the three sentences handed down Tuesday by the judge was eight years and one month for Connor Stevens, 21, of Berea, described in court documents as less involved that the other two.

By that measure, O’Shea said Hayne should get half that sentence, or about four years in prison.

Sentencing calculations outlined last week showed Stevens was facing 15 to 19 years. The judge gave him to less after hearing from Stevens and his family members and reviewing the presentence report on Stevens’ background and involvement in the plot.

The three sentenced Tuesday, including the alleged ring leader, plan to appeal their sentences. Their attorneys had argued for sentences in the five-year range.

The judge had refused earlier to delay Hayne’s sentencing as requested by his attorney, who wanted more time to review the other sentences.

A fifth co-defendant is undergoing a psychiatric exam at a federal prison outside Boston.

The suspects are described by the government as self-proclaimed anarchists who acted out of anger against corporate America and the government. The defense attorney has called the investigation a case of entrapment, with the informant guiding the way.

Cleveland 4: Connor, Doug, and Brandon sentenced

From capitalist media:

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Two more defendants in an unsuccessful plot to bomb a highway bridge in Ohio have been sentenced to prison.

Brandon Baxter was given nearly 10 years in prison, and Connor Stevens was sentenced to more than eight years.

Earlier Tuesday, alleged ringleader Douglas Wright was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.

The 20-year-old Baxter of Lakewood was sentenced to 117 months, and the 20-year-old Stevens’ sentence got 97 months.

All will be on supervised release for the rest of their lives after being released from prison. They were sentenced in federal court in Akron.

Cleveland 4: Fight continues after 3 take non-cooperating plea deals

From Cleveland 4 support:

Cleveland 4 Continue Fight for Justice in Entrapment Case After Guilty Pleas

This Wednesday, three of the four young men known as the “Cleveland 4,” Brandon Baxter, Doug Wright and Connor Stevens, entered into a non-cooperating plea agreement for all counts of the charges brought against them, but not to the government’s terrorism enhancement. The Cleveland 4 Support Committee continues to support Brandon, Doug, Connor and Josh during this time.

The sentencing for these three will not occur until after a hearing scheduled for November 5th and 6th. at which point Brandon, Doug and Connor will still have the opportunity to present evidence in court regarding unlawful entrapment actions by the FBI. Their sentence could range from five years to three lifetimes, with the defense and prosecution differing over the how federal sentencing guidelines would apply.

“We are distraught to see them plead guilty to these charges,” said Joshua Ehrlich of the Cleveland 4 Support Committee. “It is disturbing to see this situation unfold knowing that the FBI manufactured and carried out this so-called plot by means of coercion and manipulation.” The FBI has a long history of using counterintelligence tactics like infiltration, disruption and entrapment to undermine movements for social change. The government is also known for using such tactics to prey on those who are young, vulnerable and economically marginalized in order to carry out their political agenda.

Although claims of terrorism have been made against the defendants, the Cleveland 4 Support Committee believes that the actual terrorism has been perpetuated by the U.S. government against the public and those working for social change through movements like Occupy Wall Street. “This is not a case about homegrown terrorism, like the government would have us believe,” said Julia Boyd of the Cleveland 4 Support Committee. “This is a case that was manufactured and carried out by the FBI in order to undermine political resistance in the United States and to satisfy a quota in its so-called war on terror.”

“These boys, who gave their lives to preserving affordable housing and fighting the epidemic of foreclosures, are facing the possibility of three life sentences, which is a terrifying prospect,” said Ehrlich. “The sentences they are threatened with are dramatically inflated due to post-9/11 sentencing guidelines designed to criminalize political dissent.”

According to the Cleveland 4 Support Committee, the defendants are facing a criminal justice system that penalizes people for going to trial and rewards them for pleading guilty, even when those defendants know they are innocent. As a result, more than 90 percent of federal cases never go to trial. “These boys are facing charges which, due to the sensational nature of the alleged crimes, are almost impossible to beat, regardless of whether government misconduct created this situation,” continued Ehrlich.

The defense has consistently argued that Brandon Baxter, Connor Stevens, Douglas L. Wright, and Joshua Stafford were entrapped by Shaquille Azir, 39, a paid FBI informant with a long criminal history. In addition to employing some of the defendants to do manual labor work for months in advance of the arrests, Azir is also being accused of supplying them with alcohol and illicit pharmaceutical drugs. Azir is even accused of threatening one of the defendants for wanting to pull out shortly before the arrests.

Notably, in almost all contemporary terrorism-related cases, law enforcement itself has supplied the materials to make the fake or real incendiary devices defendants are accused of conspiring to use. The Cleveland case is no exception. Azir and the FBI supplied the fake C-4 and other materials to help advance the law enforcement-initiated plan. However, these details are sidestepped by sensationalized prosecutions intent on discrediting political dissidents by associating so-called “terrorism” crimes with “anarchism” and the Occupy movement.

Joshua Stafford, a fourth defendant in the case, is undergoing a mental health evaluation. His trial has been indefinitely postponed. Anthony Hayne, the fifth of the accused, pled guilty to all charges in July in a cooperating plea agreement.