$32.00 donated in past month
Environmental + Anarchist witch-hunt under way, a very coherent summary
Environmentalist Witch-Hunt Underway. (Hopefully) Coherent Summary.
In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for me -- and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.
The environmental community is under attack. Speak up before they come for you...
In 2002 a federal jury found the FBI and the Oakland Police guilty of violating Judi Bari and Daryl Cherney's first amendment rights by framing them as terrorists following an assassination attempt made on Bari and Cherney in order to discredit Earth First! Right now environmentalists across the country are being swept up in an eco-activist witch-hunt that many suspect is similarly designed to discredit the environmental movement.
On January 20, 2006 11 individuals (a 12th died in custody) were indicted on 65 charges addressing almost every unsolved act of earth liberation vandalism, including the infamous arson of the proposed ski resort in Vail, Colorado. The bells and whistles' announcement of these indictments by Attorney General Gonzales corresponded almost simultaneously with the start of unofficial congressional hearings on the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping program. Some have suggested that this timing may not be coincidence combining wide-spread discrediting of the environmental movement with a distraction from the Bush administration's own unlawful surveillance of United States' citizens.
Of the individuals in custody, almost all have publicly proclaimed innocence. Some have very openly stated that they have no affiliation with the ELF or any like organization. We very possibly have many individuals facing decades in prison for crimes of vandalism they didn't commit. This is not the time to be silent. What happened to Judi Bari and Daryl Cherney could happen again, and this time under the increased public hysteria over "terrorism."
Nor are these individuals alone. The FBI and the Bush administration seems to believe if they can successfully label an individual as a "terrorist" they can prosecute them for protected free speech, crimes that were not even committed, and put innocent people in jail (for questionable recent convictions look up Lynne Stewart, Sherman Austin, and Rod Coranado's December 2nd, 2005 conviction).
In these times, we desperately need to remember 3 things:
1) Innocent Until Proven Guilty
2) Free Speech is Not Terrorism
3) Vandalism is Not Terrorism
The only apparent evidence the government has against those indicted are the statements of two people - a police informant former friends believe to be a heroin addict offering information either to avoid a long jail sentence on unrelated charges or in return for government payment, and Stanislas Meyerhoff , an arrestee turned snitch "cooperating" to reduce the time he might serve if convicted based on the testimony of the informant. Meanwhile, how many innocent people are being swept into this FBI net?
Those facing charges include:
• Daniel McGowan, an unjustly arrested environmental and social justice activist from New York. Daniel has been an active member of the community, working on diverse projects such as the demonstrations against the Republican National Convention, Really Really Free Markets, and supporting political prisoners such as Jeff "Free" Luers and others. Daniel was a graduate student earning a Master's degree in acupuncture and working at Women's Law, a nonprofit group that helps women in domestic abuse situations navigate the legal system. See: http://www.supportdaniel.org/
• Chelsea Dan Gerlach, a peaceful environmentalist who has lived almost her entire her life in Oregon. At the time of her arrest she worked as a talented DJ in demand in the Portland area. As Chelsea's sister states, "The person we know and love is incapable of such acts and we have absolutely no reason to believe in her criminal involvement in these cases." See: http://www.supportchelsea.org/
• Darren Todd Thurston, a well-known Canadian activist who is deeply concerned about his ability to receive fair treatment as a Canadian being held on US soil. See: http://www.freedarren.org
• Jonathan Paul, a long-time environmental and animal rights activist who helped co-found America's Whale Alliance and Ocean Defense International.
• Suzanne Savoie, an environmental activist who has been helping to organize a campaign to preserve the Bald Lick roadless area on Oregon's Black Mountain. Suzanne's support group can be reached via friendsofsuzannesavoie [at] yahoo.com
• Kevin Tubbs: See http://www.supportkevintubbs.org
• Joseph Dibee: Joseph is not currently in custody.
• Josephine Overaker: Josephine is not currently in custody.
• Rebecca Rubin: Rebecca is not currently in custody.
• Sarah Kendall Harvey, currently out on bail. She has requested that she receive no prisoner support.
• Stanislas Meyerhoff, who according to the Associated Press is now cooperating with the authorities as a snitch.
Bill Rodgers remains an unindicted co-conspirator after dying in custody through an apparent suicide. Bill was a well known Arizona community activist who ran the Catalyst info-shop out of his home.
Their indictments resulted in part from the Grand Juries with which the FBI has been harassing environmental activists across the Pacific Northwest with for quite some time. Grand Juries are at odds with the professed American vision of a fair judicial system. The defendant is not represented by counsel, does not have the right to call witnesses, and consequently cannot present a defense. In contrast, the prosecutor presents any and all evidence (verified or not) and coerces testimony during secret hearings whose records are closed to the public. As Judge Sol Wachtler, the former Chief Judge of New York State, stated, "A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich." Even more worrisome, many prosecutors use Grand Juries as a fishing expedition to coerce witnesses to providing information linked to unlawful surveillance and harassment of progressive organizations. Those who refuse to answer even irrelevant questions can and have been sentenced to six months in prison.
Right now, you can support the prisoners individually through their support groups and websites. Many are requesting letters and books. Spread the word not to blindly believe the media or prosecuting attorneys (whose job it is to make these individuals look guilty). Those charged are innocent unless (and perhaps even if) proven guilty. Demand a fair trial. Help start local groups in your area to spread the word about grand juries, patriot act abuses, and those facing political repression.
It is also important to remember that this is not the time to romanticize these individuals who are proclaiming their innocence as "revolutionaries who sacrificed it all for the cause." Possibly innocent individuals are facing up to life in prison and their plight should be no one's platform for the morality or immorality of political vandalism. Rather, we need to focus on ensuring these individuals receive fair trials in the midst of 9/11 McCarthyism, and remind everyone of the little evidence indicating their guilt.
Remember Martin Niemoller. This could be you! When the Bush administration comes for the peace activists, where will you be? When the Bush administration comes for the labor movement, where will you be? When the Bush administration comes for progressively-minded individuals, where will you be? And who will be left to stand up for you?
Another Important Case We Should Keep An Eye On:
The SHAC 7 (http://www.shac7.com) begin trial on Feb 6th in Trenton NJ facing an aggregate 23 years in prison for what should be protected free speech. They are alleged to have operated a website that reported on and expressed ideological support for protest activity against Huntingdon and its business affiliates. For this they are charged with "terrorism" under the controversial Federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. The Bush administration started this renewed attack on civil liberties with the animal rights movement hoping they would be marginalized even within progressive movements. This case will produce a dangerous precedent resulting in the government's ability to successfully persecute more mainstream progressive organizations and organizers.