Accusations of Violence By Occupy Wall Street Demonstrate Differences Between Left and Right

Yesterday I pointed out how Fox was trying to twist the news with unfounded suggestions of a connection between the bombing plot broken up yesterday and the Occupy Wall Street movement. The suggestion was made with a subtle comment that “It is unknown if the bridge incident was connected to Occupy Wall Street’s plans for nationwide protests Tuesday.” Such a formula would allow Fox to tie any unrelated groups together this way. Not surprisingly, the right wing blogs and Twitter have considerable chatter today falsely claiming Occupy Wall Street was involved in the plot to blow up the bridge.

Further reports on the arrest clarify the lack of a real relationship between those arrested and Occupy Wall Street. USA Today reports:

What sets the alleged Ohio operation apart is its link to self-proclaimed anarchists — with no connections to international terrorist organizations — who believed that members of the ubiquitous Occupy protest movement had not gone far enough to express their displeasure with high-flying corporate America.

More recent plots disrupted by the FBI have focused on traditional terrorist targets — military facilities and crowded public places — with the goal of inflicting mass casualties.

The operation outlined Tuesday in federal court papers described a poorly financed operation by inexperienced players who at times joked about their lack of terror savvy but sought to use the cover of the Occupy campaign in Cleveland to strike a violent blow against U.S. corporate properties and interests.

From the earliest point in a seven-month undercover inquiry starting in October, an FBI informant said the group of suspects expressed “displeasure at the (Occupy) crowd’s unwillingness to act violently.”

Almost immediately after the charges were announced, the Occupy campaign moved to distance itself from the allegations.

Acknowledging that the suspects — Douglas Wright, 26; Brandon Baxter, 20; Anthony Hayne, 35; Connor Stevens, 20; and Joshua Stafford, 23 — were “associated with Occupy Cleveland,” the group said in a statement that the five were “in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland.”

Four of the suspects are from the Cleveland area; Wright is from Indianapolis.

Citing the arrests, Occupy Cleveland canceled a scheduled May Day rally Tuesday.

Ed Needham, a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street, said the alleged Cleveland plot “goes against the very fabric of the Occupy Movement.”

“The Occupy Movement is a social movement rooted in compassion as well as social justice,” he said.

U.S. authorities also sought to separate the criminal case against the five men from a blanket indictment of the protest movement.

“The FBI and the Department of Justice do not investigate groups or movements,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said. “The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions.”

While violence is far more often associated with right wing extremism, there are extremists on both the left and right who will resort to violence. This demonstrates a key difference between the left and right. The right is dominated far more by their more radical elements as compared to the left, with many on the right willing to ignore the problem of right wing violence. Occupy Wall Street is to the left of the Democratic Party and many liberal groups but has not shown the degree of extremism seen on the right. As noted above, the local Occupy group immediately repudiated the use of violence and did not try to defend those who promoted violence. Many liberals have also shown concern about the violence occurring at the Occupy demonstrations. Other liberal bloggers join me in having concerns about the tactics of Occupy Wall Street and want a clearer repudiation of the use of violence in demonstrations nation-wide.

In contrast, when there have been discussions of right wing violence, it has been common for many in the conservative movement to show reluctance to dissociate themselves from those who promote violence. We saw this in the reaction of conservative bloggers to a report from the Department of Homeland Security on far right extremists. We were reminded of  the frequent use of violent rhetoric by the conservative movement  following the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. Ron Paul has pandered to neo-Nazis and white supremacists to raise money, bringing in elements to the conservative movement which would have been ostracized in past years before the move by the conservative movement to the extreme right. Will the conservative bloggers who falsely accuse Occupy Wall Street of being involved in a bomb plot speak out against the real problem of right wing violence?


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  1. 1
    Mike B.T.R.M. says:

    I’m just fascinated how often undercover agents fine these loony terrorist wannabes. I simply don’t believe the agents are that skillful or prevalent to get so many, so often. It seems like finding “plotters of destruction” is about as easy as cops pretending to be hookers find tricks. While I appreciate most of the security efforts, I’m becoming terribly alarmed at reports of TSA searches of people around public transportation. I don’t have the facts yet to scream “unconstitutional”! But what have you heard about this?

  2. 2
    Cain S. LaTrans says:

    "As noted above, the local Occupy group immediately repudiated the use of violence and did not try to defend those…

  3. 3
    Cain S. LaTrans says:

    Accusations of Violence By Occupy Wall Street Demonstrate Differences Between Left and Right – (via #sociablesite)

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mike, you mentioned three quite distinct situations.

    The easiest to comment on is police entrapping people seeking prostitutes. This raises two concerns. Are they creating the crime by soliciting people who might not have committed a crime if the police weren’t pretending to be hookers? Even if the people caught would have found a real hooker if not solicited by undercover police, should we even be bothering to seek out such people and prosecute?

    The cases of FBI infiltrated terror groups also raises questions as to whether these people would ever have been a threat if not for FBI infiltration leading them on. If these are people that would have gone ahead with violence without FBI involvement, then obviously it is a good thing that they get caught. As I said in the previous post on this subject, there’s also the question of the FBI taking credit for breaking up their own terror cells. On the one hand I do have concerns that they are building themselves up by reporting on arresting terror cells which might not have been anything if not for FBI involvement. On the other hand, it could be a good thing if this makes people who are interested in committing acts of violence paranoid about working with others (fearing that they are FBI) and therefore makes it more difficult to work together.

    The TSA searches are different in affecting large numbers of people who are not guilty of anything. I’m sure you have seen the same types of news reports I have seen about abuses. A big question as to whether it is worth putting up with this is whether the current programs are even effective in preventing actual acts of terrorism.

  5. 5
    Mike B.T,R.M. says:

    Thanks for the comments. Yes, all different situations but all with underlying questions of government involvement, some perhaps warrented and others not. I particularly am intrigued by your response about the FBI creating their own problem through their involvement, yet perhaps gaining some deterrent effect. My reaction is that, sadly I suspect they may at times lead people on that may not have acted with the FBI’s involvement. That, and those truely motivated to do acts of terror may be unhampered albiet perhaps just a little more cautious in their plans because of the risk of undercover operatives.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    It is hard to say not knowing what was actually going on before FBI involvement. If they are leading people on who would not have been a threat then these arrests would not be of value. Unfortunately we might not be able to tell for certain because the main source of information about these groups is the FBI itself, which would be motivated to report things in a manner to justify their involvement.

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