A New Black Panther Party member and another Ferguson protester both received 84 months in prison for “planning and conspiring to ignite explosive devices during the Ferguson protests and procuring firearms for convicted felons,” according to the FBI. The Ferguson protests were largely pushed by protesters and organizers identifying as #BlackLivesMatter, according to The Guardian. The riots and protests occurred in response to the false claims that an innocent black man had his hands up and was shot by a white police officer. Black Lives Matter has come to represent the wider #BlackLivesMatter movement, no longer solely representing the specific Black Lives Matter group that was founded in California.
The two men are Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Orlando Baldwin. According to the FBI:
…in August 2014, Olajuwon Davis, a member of the New Black Panther Party, became a frequent protester in Ferguson, Missouri. During the protests, Davis met a fellow protestor by the name of Brandon Orlando Baldwin who was employed at Cabela’s Inc., Hazelwood, Missouri. Cabela’s is a federally licensed firearms dealer. Davis and Baldwin began to discuss how they could help arm some of the individuals taking part in the Ferguson protests. Baldwin volunteered that he could use his position at Cabela’s, and thereafter, Davis related to several people that he could procure firearms for convicted felons through Baldwin at the Cabela’s store. In fact, three such purchases were made: one on October 22, 2014, and two on November 7, 2014.
By early to mid-November, Davis and Baldwin’s talk of procuring guns had shifted into acquiring bombs. The discussions included types of bombs, blast radius, and cost. Public buildings, police vehicles and police were discussed as possible targets; also mentioned as possible targets were the St. Louis County Prosecutor and the Ferguson Chief of Police. On November 12, 2014, an undercover informant showed the defendants a recording of a controlled explosion that would be produced by the type of pipe bomb the defendants were talking about purchasing. The defendants requested a delivery date of Friday November 21, 2014.
On Thursday evening November 20th, the arranged sale of three bombs was scheduled for shortly after midnight in the early morning hours of Friday. The reason for the delay was so that one of the defendants would be able to withdraw an additional $150 from an ATM machine to complete the purchase price of $250 for the three pipe bombs. The parties then met at a prearranged location in Hazelwood where the exchange of money for the three would-be bombs took place. Immediately upon the exchange taking place, Davis and Baldwin were arrested.
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(Disclosure: Brandon Darby was formerly an undercover informant for the FBI and worked on cases similar to the one described in this report. He is a staunch advocate for the use of undercover informants by law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.)