The last national press reports on the five men arrested Monday for plotting to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge reassured everyone that none involved were in responsible roles in the Occupy movement. On Thursday, the Associated Press's Thomas J. Sheeran wrote that Occupy Cleveland spokespersons "said the men were associated with the group but didn't represent Occupy Cleveland or its non-violent philosophy." An earlier AP report paraphrased a claim that they "had been associated with the anticorporate Occupy Cleveland movement but don't share its nonviolent views." Reuters carried this quote: "They were in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland."
Well, last night, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Michael Sangiacomo reported that at least one of the five was once in a sufficiently responsible position within the Occupy group to represent it while signing a lease for space the group used. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the wire services just noted and others will do with what follows:
Suspect in bridge bombing plot signed lease on Occupy Cleveland warehouse
One of the five self-described anarchists arrested last week for attempting to blow up a local bridge signed the lease for a West Side warehouse where about a dozen members of the Occupy Cleveland group live.
In a one-hour recording of a Friday evening general assembly meeting of the group posted on its website http://occupycleveland.com/live-stream/, occupy leaders expressed concern about Anthony Hayne's name being on the lease, which strengthens his link to the group.
"We have a person facing terrorism charges on the lease of our warehouse," said one of the leaders. "If this gets into the media, it would be a disaster."
... An FBI affidavit said Hayne helped plan the bombing attempt. It also said he was one of a group that last Sunday picked up a duffel bag containing smoke grenades and gas masks, as well as two black boxes that the suspects thought contained bombs.
Joseph Zitt, spokesman for Occupy Cleveland, told The Plain Dealer Saturday that when they learned Hayne was arrested in the terrorism plot, the organization started working to get his name off the lease at the 3619 Walton Avenue property."
The landlord said it would be fine to change the name. We're working that out now," Zitt said. Zitt said Hayne happened to be on hand when the organization leased the warehouse to store items and serve as housing for some members.
"We needed a name on the lease, and he agreed to be it," Zitt said. "I want to stress that rent [$600 a month] for the warehouse was paid directly to the landlord. No money was ever given to Hayne."
It's not clear whether Hayne was the lease's sole signer, but if there had been others, I believe the PD's Sangiacomo would have let readers know. In general, the PD has done a very good job of not pulling its punches in its coverage of the bridge-bombing story. That's not something you can say about other city papers' coverage of violence associated with their Occupy groups, particularly in San Francisco and Oakland.
As to the Cleveland Occupy group's worries about a "disaster," that would seem to depend on whether the establishment press outside of Cleveland cares enough to do follow-up reports. I'll bet they won't. But if this story were about someone active in the Tea Party who had gone rogue, it would already have been widely headlined nationwide.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.