It's been a difficult week for the guys and for our support group. But the work continues to fight FBI entrapment tactics and help the guys spend the least time in prison possible. When the guys pled Wednesday, there was a flurry of press coverage. Predictably, this coverage did not cover the facts of the case beyond the story the FBI has crafted, occasionally including one line about the defense attorneys' stances. But this is an opportunity for us to get our story out, by submitting letters to the editors.
Our goal is to immediately get to work and send 50 letters to papers across the country by this Sunday, September 9th. We need your help. We've prepared a kit to help you write and submit a letter to your local paper. It can be as simple as filling in the blanks on the sample letter that follows and sending it by email to your local rag. Or use the template and talking points to craft your own letter.
When you've sent in your letter, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can see where we're at with our goal. If you write something, we'd also love a copy of your letter.
As always, your support means everything to us and to Connor, Brandon, Doug and Josh.
Letter to the Editor
What is it?
A letter to the editor (sometimes abbreviated LTTE or LTE) is a letter sent to a publication about issues of concern from its readers. Usually, letters are intended for publication. In many publications, letters to the editor may be sent either through conventional mail or electronic mail.
What is the format?
<Name of Media Outlet or Publication>
<State your reason for writing here. If you are responding to articles or editorials by the media outlet, use the first sentence to reference the title of the article, name of the publication, and date it appeared.>
<State your case here. Include facts, references, or research here to establish credibility. [Keep length in mind though. Acceptable letter length will vary from periodical to periodical. Look at their letters section to get a feel for an appropriate length.]>
< Include a call to action, asking readers to follow up with some activity, such as joining in calling on policymakers to address the issue. >
<End with a strong, positive statement in support of your case. >
<Name of Writer>
What are the points?
-- The defendants are facing dramatically inflated sentences -- possible multiple life terms -- due to post-9/11 sentencing changes designed to criminalize political dissent.
-- The system penalizes people for going to trial, as many innocent people know who take pleas in fear of extremely harsh sentences.
-- Trials with terrorism charges have almost entirely resulted in convictions, though as insightful journalists have pointed out, many of these cases, like this one, were created through coaxing and coercion
from FBI informants.
-- The government has sensationalized this case from the beginning by referring to the defendants as "anarchists" and by connecting the alleged actions of the Cleveland 4 to the OWS movement.
-- The government claims to have prevented a so-called "terrorist" attack, but the truth is this "plot" was manufactured and carried out by the FBI.
-- The defendants have been brought to court in shackles to further sensationalize their predicament and make it appear as though they are hardened criminals when in reality they are social change activists who were coerced and manipulated by an FBI informant
-- The FBI has a history of using illegal counterintelligence tactics to violate people's rights and undermine movements for social change
-- The state has a pattern of making sensational arrests preemptively, in advance of planned political demonstrations in order to chill dissent and undermine movements for social change
-- The FBI and other law enforcement agencies that engage in operations to entrap activists prey on those who are young, vulnerable and on the margins of political organizations
-- It appears that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies carry out these kind of manufactured crimes in order to justify further so-called "counter-terrorism" tactics and more militarized policing, to gain additional funding for such efforts, and to undermine activists and movements for social change
-- The FBI took activists who were creating positive change in their community, isolated them, then pressured and coerced them into participating in an FBI-manufactured plot
-- The FBI informant Azir Shaquille has a long criminal history and was facing felony charges when he agreed to infiltrate Occupy Cleveland in October 2011. For his work to entrap the Cleveland 4, Shaquille was paid at least $6,000 and had his charges reduced or eliminated.
-- Shaquille made the defendants dependent on him by giving them paid work over months time and providing them with alcohol and drugs
-- Shaquille isolated the defendants by urging them not to hang out with their other friends
-- In almost all contemporary terrorism-related cases, law enforcement itself has supplied the materials to make the fake or real incendiary devices defendants are accused of conspiring to use.
How do I submit a LTE?
Check your local paper for instructions on submitting your LTE. Many papers allow you to submit by email or through an online form. You will usually need to include your name and address. Be careful to note the rules the paper provides about article length and content, and to cite the article or letter you are responding to. Another option for online publications is to post your reply in the article comments that follow most online articles.
What is an example of a LTE?
I am writing in response to the Chicago Tribune’s September 5th article, “Three anarchists plead guilty to Ohio bridge bomb plot.” The article didn't do an adequate job of exploring or even representing the widespread controversy about this case. The defense attorney's concerns about the informant's conduct -- manipulating the defendants through drugs, alcohol and under-the-table employment, as well as playing a pivotal role in creating the plot and pressuring the defendants to participate -- are substantiated through the accounts of many who knew the guys, as well as through the FBI's own public records on the case. This raises question for me about where blame is being placed in this case. In light of articles written about other post-9/11 FBI terrorism cases, bigger questions about the way the FBI has been conducting it's so-called "war on terror." For example, in almost all contemporary terrorism-related cases, law enforcement itself has supplied the materials to make the fake or real incendiary devices defendants are accused of conspiring to use.
The FBI has a history of using illegal counterintelligence tactics to violate people's rights and undermine movements for social change. A number of cases currently in court against members of the Occupy movement involve undercover FBI or local police who seem to have played instrumental roles in the formation of the crimes that they were supposedly investigating. It's no wonder that questions are being raised about the FBI targetting or attacking Occupy.
I encourage all to remain critical of the motivations and tactics used by our government to bring charges of terrorism against it’s own citizens. While the three young men have plead guilty, it is important to remember the system penalizes people for going to trial, as many innocent people know who take pleas in fear of extremely harsh sentences.
I hope, no matter the outcome, the full story of the true nature of the FBI’s tactics is exposed.