CLEVELAND- Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio questioned the timing of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s decision to oust Occupy Cleveland from their current location on Public Square. The ACLU expressed concern that Jackson’s announcement is an attempt to connect the entire Occupy Cleveland movement with a group of five individuals who were arrested on Monday for allegedly plotting to blow up a Cleveland area bridge.
“On Monday five men are arrested for a bomb plot,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman. “On Tuesday the media discovers that some of these men attended Occupy events. On Wednesday the mayor revokes Occupy’s permit. This doesn’t seem like a coincidence.”
Mayor Jackson’s office claimed that the decision not to renew the Occupy permit was made before Monday’s arrests, yet in the same statement to the press, they contend that the movement must come to grips with the fact that people it “welcomed” into its group now stand accused of a crime.
“Individuals are responsible for their own actions, not the groups they affiliate with,” said Hardiman. “City officials should not be in the business of condemning an entire group of people based on the actions of others. If one politician does something unethical, it would be unfair to paint every politician with that same broad brush. Mayor Jackson should afford the Occupy movement that same courtesy. “
Occupy members have repeatedly made clear that their struggle is non-violent and that the purported views of the five arrested men in no way represent the views of the movement. In fact, Occupy Cleveland has been able to maintain a cordial relationship with city police and administration during their time on Public Square.
“Five men are accused of a very serious crime and they will face those charges in court,” added Hardiman, “but now the mayor is punishing the entire Occupy movement, even though the FBI has clearly stated that they are not under investigation for any crime and never were.”