Is Occupy Cleveland Being Punished for Bomb Plot Suspects?

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Five self-proclaimed anarchists, accused of plotting to blow up a bridge, took part in protests for Occupy Cleveland, and leaders of the movement say they are already being punished for their connection to the suspects.

The men were arrested on Monday night, and on Wednesday morning, Cleveland city officials announced they were not renewing Occupy Cleveland’s permit for an encampment they established on Public Square in October.

Occupy spokesman Peter Schanz told Fox 8, “I think it’s a reactionary measure. We’ve been a non-violent protest since our inception on October 6; we’ve abided by Ghandian and Kingian non-violence principles.”

Top city officials said the permit was denied because Occupy members no longer need shelter from the cold weather.

When asked about the role of Monday’s arrests in connection with the bomb plot on the Route 82 Bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ken Silliman, chief of staff for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, said, “I would say that when you open your tent to all comers, you’ve got take the risk that some of those comers aren’t going to be speaking your appropriate message, and I think that’s what occupy Cleveland is wrestling with right now. So it’s certainly a matter of concern for us, but the decision on the canopy is related to other factors.”

Schanz and other members of Occupy Cleveland said they had no knowledge of the bomb plot, and object to being painted with the same brush as the suspects.

City officials say Occupy Cleveland can still protest on Public Square, but their camp must be removed by Wednesday night.

The five suspects, identified as 26-year-old Douglas Wright, 20-year-old Brandon Baxter, 35-year-old Anthony Hayne, 20-year-old Connor Stevens and 23-year-old Joshua Stafford, are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court next week for a bond hearing.

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