Before it was the Cleveland 4, it was the Cleveland 5 -- but the fifth defendant, Anthony Hayne, cooperated with the government against the others in order to get a reduced sentence and so was dropped from receiving community support. Hayne has now been released from prison into a halfway house.
While people should know to be cautious of Hayne and remember that it is never safe to let him back into our communities, the real focus should be on Brandon, Connor, Doug, and Josh -- and the continued support they deserve.
As Hayne walked out of prison, the Cleveland 4 still have years left: Brandon has 3 years 9 months, Connor has 2 years 4 months, Doug has 5 years 3 months, and Josh has 4 years 7 months. These years that they still have left are because they chose to not cooperate with the government -- they instead chose to stay on the side of their friends, to not be pressured into turning their backs on their community. In return, they deserve community support.
Let Hayne's release from prison be a reminder that every day that Brandon, Connor, Doug, and Josh have left in prison should be a day that they feel our support. They're still in there because of their dedication to solidarity with others; we have a responsibility to show solidarity with them.
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported Brandon, Connor, Doug, and Josh since their arrest, and thank you to everyone who is new to supporting them. These past years have been rough ones for them as they've dealt with harsh prison conditions, periods in solitary confinement, transfers between prisons, and being away from their loved ones and communities. But support has been a beacon of light through the darkness -- the letters and books they've received, donations to their commissary funds, and efforts to raise awareness about their case have meant so much to them. It's their connection through the walls of prison.
And they need that support to continue. As the years pass, their case may fade in memory -- but we cannot let them be forgotten, and we cannot let the government's manipulation and use of "terrorism" prosecutions go unchallenged. Please continue to do what you can to show support for the Cleveland 4, whether that's writing a letter, making a donation, or sharing information about them. Every day that each of them is in prison is a day that they should know people care about them.
Write to them:
Brandon Baxter #57972-060 FCI Terre Haute PO Box 33 Terre Haute, IN 47808
Connor Stevens #57978-060 FCI Manchester PO Box 4000 Manchester, KY 40962
Below is information for writing a letter to the President of the United States in support of Brandon Baxter’s clemency petition. Brandon’s current sentence is to serve 9 years and 9 months in prison, to be followed by supervised release for life; his clemency petition will ask that his sentence be commuted to time served in prison, to be followed by supervised release for a maximum of five years.
If you are able to write a supporting letter, please email a scanned copy of the letter (typed and signed) to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 20th. We will pass the letters on to his attorney to submit them with the clemency petition, and you can also let us know if you have any questions that we'll forward to his attorney.
Letter Format DATE GREETING: Dear President of the United States: BODY OF LETTER:
- Briefly discuss yourself – who you are, your position in work or your role in the community, and any points which could establish your ability to advise the President about why Brandon’s clemency petition should be granted.
- If you know Brandon personally and can offer some personal observations, you will want to mention this in your letter. It would be helpful to include descriptions of Brandon’s character, compassion, integrity, accomplishments, interests, education, family life, interaction with and treatment of other people, and your personal and/or professional relationship with him. Is he compassionate? Generous? Thoughtful towards others? Trustworthy? Hard worker? Good friend? Committed to making the world a better place? Explain why you think this way about him.
- When talking about Brandon and who he is, give SPECIFICS: Don’t just say he’s a good person; discuss the specific things he’s done that make him a good person. Examples or anecdotes which demonstrate who he is are incredibly important to helping develop a better picture of Brandon. You are encouraged to write an honest, straightforward portrait of Brandon. Do not hesitate to write from the heart, and/or emphasize anything you feel is important.
- Explain concrete reasons why Brandon’s sentence should be commuted. Possible things to consider writing about are: Why is his sentence too severe? In what ways has he matured or changed since he was sentenced? What are his plans for his life and helping others after prison? Base the reasons that you explain on your personal knowledge of Brandon and his situation.
"It's enough just to say what is before our eyes and not shrink from the conclusions." -- The Invisible Committee
He walks around the dirt track that encircles the prison yard. The sun is low in the west, giving a soft, warm glow to the forests and faces on either side of the fence. Birds are offering a lovely melody off in the east. The air is fresh, comforting. He is not aware of any of this. In his mind, there is only a cacophony of commodities vying for his attention, and some delusional sense of self he feels compelled to assert. He speaks at length in a loud voice to his companions, about nothing in particular. A large, brilliant white butterfly sets down gently on the dirt path, raising and lowering its wings. He raises his boot and crushes the butterfly.
. . . .
I open my hand, full of food, to my companion. "Would you like to try some?" "Hell no, what are you, crazy? Not out of your hand."
. . . .
She hears the screams of her mother every night as she lies awake in her bed, pretending she's crazy.
. . . .
He scans the magazines and newspapers for the answers. How many times a day should he brush his teeth? What's the best city to live in? How many close friends should he have? What's the best kind of soap to use? The answers change from week to week. He finds one he likes: a magazine tells him he should walk 10,000 steps a day. The hardest struggle is always the one of self.
. . . .
I was watching the news on the cell block. Everyone knows, like the federal government, that Wolf Blitzer tells no lies. They cheer on the slaugher of innocents in Orlando. They watch the slaughter in Dallas in silence.
. . . .
"When I was younger, I wanted to join the military." "Why is that," I ask. "So that I could kill people and get away with it."
. . . .
The little girl cannot make sense of it, no matter how hard she tries or how much she cries. "But why would they put daddy in a cage? Don't they know he loves me!" She chokes from her own sobbing, the only thing she understands.
I sit on a hill beside an electric fence topped with razorwire. The sun, kissing my face, brings a gentle smile to my lips. A subtle sense of comfort washes over me. I feel your voice rise up in my chest, acknowledging your absence. My face becomes drawn and weary as swift as a cloud drifting beneath the sun. I am encircled by the ghosts of those I'll never meet, and those I'll never see again.
Twenty-four years of lonely nights Ten thousand gallons of alcohol Countless moments of inexpressible joy A hundred suicidal thoughts A dozen street clashes and unrequited loves Twenty-four years of waking to the unknown and drifting through the endless mysteries To be bound and gagged, dragged in chains across the final empire, buried beneath sun and steel Wandering across a desolate terrain of shattered minds Lost in so many brown eyes And caresses drifting across the faces of a dozen strangers
And all of this so that I may arrive to recieve the light glistening from your lips.