May 5, 2012
Recent events in northern Ohio underscore the new COINTELPRO assault on activism. On Tuesday, May 1, federal authorities arrested five “anarchists” charging them with conspiracy in trying to bomb property used in interstate commerce, according to the Associated Press (AP). The target of this alleged plot was a bridge running through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 15 miles south of downtown Cleveland.
Media immediately identified the men as linked to the nonviolent anti-corporate Occupy Cleveland movement. The next day, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson refused to renew the permits for Occupy Cleveland’s downtown encampment site. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio questioned why the Mayor would revoke the permit the day after the arrests. “Individuals are responsible for their own actions, not the groups they affiliate with,” said James Hardiman, ACLU’s Ohio Legal Director.
An undercover employee of the FBI later identified as an ex-convict sold the Cleveland “anarchists” fake explosives to blow up the bridge, according to the AP. As an axiom in activist politics, if anyone approaches a demonstrator and suggests violent activities and offers to procure guns or bombs – they are in all probability a cop or working for law enforcement.
Friday, May 4 was the 42nd anniversary of the Kent State shootings. Recall that the shootings only occurred after the mysterious burning down of the Kent State ROTC building on May 2, 1970. Numerous accounts of the event indicate that the Kent State police never attempted to stop the arsonist and the University’s own investigative study reported: “The persons involved in the actual incendiarism were few, were separated from the main crowd, and could easily have been apprehended by the police.”
The Ohio National Guard would have never been called to the Kent State campus without the ROTC arson.
William A. Gordon’s book “Four Dead in Ohio” noted that the Kent State University police made no attempt to prevent the ROTC fire despite the fact that their own intelligence warnings alerted them to the impending arson. One detective even admitted telling a TV camera crew, “Don’t pack your cameras. We’re going to have a fire tonight.”
The special grand jury report done under the auspices of Portage County Common Pleas Judge Edwin W. Jones concluded that, “It is obvious that the burning of the ROTC building could have been prevented with the manpower then available.”
In 1976, Senator Frank Church and his Senate investigation committee exposed the government’s Counter Intelligence Program (CONINTELPRO). The FBI admitted to the Church Committee that on May 7, 1970 they deliberately set fire to an ROTC building in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Six pages concerning ROTC fires were redacted in the Church Committee report.
As Alan Canfora, one of the students shot on May 4, said “some of the students there did try to light the building on fire. It was like the Three Stooges trying to burn the ROTC building. When we left, that fire was completely out.”
In his book, Gordon noted that a biker showed up with a can of gasoline and gave it to a high school student, George Walter Harrington, who then burnt the building. Gordon and others have speculated as to whether the biker worked for the FBI or federal authorities. Despite the presence of fire and police officials, neither the biker nor Harrington were every prosecuted.
The original COINTELPRO ran between 1956 and 1971. Its purpose was to discredit any peace and social justice movements. The tactics they used were those of psychological warfare. Tactics included smearing the reputations of individual activists and organizations through planting false stories in the media; forging documents; planting evidence leading to wrongful imprisonments, sending in undercover agents and snitches to promote illegal activities and violence; and even assassination.
The initial evidence in Cleveland, as in Kent State 42 years earlier, points to a rejuvenated COINTELPRO movement designed to destroy the reputation of the highly successful Occupy Wall Street movement.
David K. Shipler, the author of “Rights and Risks: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America,” pointed out in an April 29, 2012 New York Times op-ed that most recent terrorist plots in the United States have been hatched by the FBI. Shipler wrote “But dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naively play their parts until they are arrested.”
Two days after Shipler’s words, the five anarchists are arrested with fake C-4 in Cleveland. As Shipler points out, “Some threats are real, others less so. In terrorism, its not easy to tell the difference.”
Shipler should have added, some terrorist threats are manufactured by the government to destroy social justice movements.
It has already been widely reported that Homeland Security was involved in harassing the Occupy movement. (See, Free Press, January 5, 2012)
A little known but highly influential private organization, The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, emerged last November as coordinating the crackdown on the Occupy movement. They were coordinating conference calls with major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs.
It should come as no surprise that five so-called anarchists, with no capacity to blow up a bridge on their own, were sold or given fake C-4 from an ex-convict working with federal law enforcement. And then, a big city mayor uses it to attack the Occupy movement. From the Kent State killings to Occupy Cleveland, this is the face of the new COINTELPRO, same as the old COINTELPRO. The 1% are still protected by the illegal activities of the security industrial complex that routinely violate the civil liberties of U.S. citizens seeking nonviolent change.