Cleveland leader: Occupy must watch for trouble

THOMAS J. SHEERAN Associated Press Published:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- A city councilman who has served as a liaison to the Occupy movement said Thursday that bomb plotting charges against five men associated with Occupy Cleveland show the group needs to watch for troublemakers.

"This is a horrific example in terms of the arrests of how the movement itself failed to identify and understand the dangerous potential of people affiliated with it," Councilman Brian Cummins said.

Five men associated with the Cleveland Occupy movement, which protests what it calls corporate greed, were charged Tuesday with plotting to bomb a highway bridge in suburban Cleveland. An FBI undercover informant provided a dud bomb and the public was never in danger, the government said.

Cummins, who has served as an occasional go-between for city hall and Occupy Cleveland, said that he became acquainted with one of the alleged bomb plotters, Douglas Wright, 26, of Indianapolis, last fall as the group set up a protest center in downtown Cleveland.

He said Wright came across as an out-of-town drifter trying to fit into the Occupy movement. The criminal complaint against Wright and the others portray them as trying to incite violence by the Occupy protesters and frustrated when they met resistance.

"The whole group appeared to be together and was constantly moving throughout the crowd expressing displeasure at the crowd's unwillingness to act violently," the criminal complaint said. When told by organizers that protesters would submit to arrest peacefully as part of an act of civil disobedience Oct. 21, the men left, one expressing a vulgarity.

While Occupy participants have cooperated with police for months on crime issues, Cummins said the group needs to work on understanding how to monitor those involved.

The Occupy movement said the men were associated with the group but didn't represent Occupy Cleveland or its non-violent philosophy.

Occupy participants stood aside as police removed the group's tent early Thursday, leaving about a half-dozen people standing around or zipped up in sleeping bags. The city said the permit for the tent in the heart of downtown had expired.

Cummins said the Occupy movement has been hampered by the inability to present a unified message because it allows all views to be heard.

"That's a real problem with trying to track and broaden their base," he said. "The decision model really makes it difficult for them to be productive. The movement itself prides itself on allowing diverse opinions and divergent views."

The plotters, described by the government as anarchists, allegedly acted out of anger against corporate America and the government.

All five have been ordered held pending a preliminary hearing Monday, when a federal magistrate will take up the issue of setting bond. The government wants them kept locked up as too risky to release.