Has the FBI Launched a War of Entrapment Against the Occupy Movement?
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Numerous friends of the five dispute this account, saying violence was never raised. Because there is no audio recording of the encounter, as there are for many others, the FBI claims could easily be fabricated, which would mean the basis for the investigation was spurious. People present say there was a tactical dispute between “do-it-yourself” punk kids, which the five identified with, who wanted to keep the camp going, and more mainstream, college-educated occupiers who agreed to take down dozens of tents while staging a nonviolent civil disobedience action to demonstrate support for free speech rights. Zachy and Natalie, friends of the five, say the punk kids were disillusioned with both the decision to end the occupation and what they saw as an ineffectual protest, but no one discussed violence.
'Silly Kid Things'
Zachy says, “About a week after the collapse of tent city on Oct. 21, we created a group called the Revolutionary People’s Army. We were being romantic. We were drunk and high … Doug, Connor, Brandon, Joshua and Tony were all involved in the RPA. There were a couple of serious meetings and it turned into spray painting Guy Fawkes masks, 'Rise Up' and 'RPA' and 'circle A' anarchist symbols around town. We also plastered 'Wake Up' with circle A and Occupy stickers. RPA was real tongue-in-cheek. It was silly kid things.”
Tolls calls them “boys playing cowboys and Indians with fireworks and spray paint," adding, "They were trying to empower themselves and passionately wanted to change their world. Occupy gave them hope. They were targeted by the FBI and culled from a peaceful group. They were guided toward this by individuals who provided the means and motivation. They didn’t have these violent actions in them.”
It was from these childish antics that the FBI claims that Doug Wright conjured up the initial plot – deploying smoke bombs as cover as while toppling bank signs from buildings such as the Key Bank tower. Friends of Doug Wright laugh at the allegations. They mention that with Wright’s smashed-up face and punk attire he would not even be allowed into the building, much less be able to scale the 947-foot-tall skyscraper and blast off the enormous red key affixed to the outside.
Ben Shapiro, who is highly regarded in the activist community, says he noticed suspicious activities he interprets as police disruption. “Certain people were actively trying to isolate the Cleveland 5 from other organizers last fall by spreading rumors they were FBI agents.” Additionally, says Shapiro, during the first few weeks of the occupation at the centrally located Public Square, “We saw people in strange white vans circling around the square, conducting surveillance. They were parked in an area downtown where anyone else would have been towed or ticketed within minutes.”
After the encampment ended, Shapiro says he was concerned about the punk kids and cautioned them against engaging in unsafe behavior. “They had every reason to be frustrated – there were poor group dynamics and an inability to reoccupy the square.” At the same time, he adds, “They were good kids and were coming up with elaborate plans on how to hide their tents in backpacks.” Shapiro says the activity wasn’t a strategic answer to the loss of space, but “it was very spirited.”
In hindsight, says Shapiro, there was “evidence of narcs … People spreading rumors, isolating members of the community, providing money, transportation and space.” He emphasizes he is referring not only to Shaquille Azir, but to the shadowy Ryan as well. When he heard news of the arrests, Shapiro says, “I saw the list of names. I saw this group of kids that had been targeted was now entrapped. It seems so fabricated.”