Lives Lost

Sun, 14 Jun 1998 13:47:24 -0700
From: Bob Martel
To: Ellen Fred

Quotes take from a Congressional hearing held June 9, 1998

Barry Clausen, author of the book, “Walking on the Edge-How I infiltrated Earth First!:

There have also been an as of yet unknown number of death threats to American citizens and families, including myself as well as actual incidents of attempted murder and murder itself. Ron Arnold, author of the book, “Ecoterror-The Violent Agenda to Save Nature: These crimes generally take the form of equipment vandalism, but may include package bombs, blockades using physical force to obstruct workers from going where they have a right to go, and invasions of private or government offices to commit the crime of civil disobedience. So you can see, Mr. Chairman, the range of ecoterror crimes ranges from the most violent felonies of attempted murder to misdemeanor offenses such as criminal trespass….

“As Earth First in recent years has tried to mainstream itself, ecoterror crimes have become more destructive to their wishes for a good public image. Therefore, Judi Bari, an Earth First leader, wrote an article in the Earth First Journal recommending that a decoupling group call itself Earth Liberation Front in order to create deniability for Earth Firsters crimes. I document this in my book EcoTerror on page 270, which I respectfully request be made part of the record. In fact, the Earth Liberation Front has subsequently become a well-known entity to law enforcement.

Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front signed a joint communique stating their solidarity and blending. I have been able to determine that certain criminal Earth Firsters, Earth Liberation Front members and the Animal Liberation Front members are the same people. Examples are David Barbarash and Darren Thurston, convicted felons now under indictment in Canada for attempted murder by pipe bombs, were at one time Earth Firsters. I am stating that there is no difference between ecoterrorism and animal rights terrorism. The perpetrators are in large part the same, and the solidarity of action is openly declared.


Congressperson Frank Riggs: The results of monkeywrenching vary. Most of the time it causes the cessation of logging activities. Often times it causes property damage. In Ukiah, California, which is in my Congressional District, it killed a logger. Too many times these activities have caused grave injury and even the loss of life. Many a rigger, logger and treefeller have suffered injury because of a severed hydraulic line or tree spike….Lives have been lost.


Question by Bob Martel for Humboldt County Sheriff Dennis Lewis:

A press release dated 6/9/98 from Congressperson Frank Riggs mentioned in the Times Standard both yesterday and today said in reference to Earth First! and Riggs allegations of terrorism that “Lives have been lost.” I have been unable to find one example of any such death. Do you have any recollection or knowledge of such an event?

A: No such event has occurred.


Coincidentally I had an opportunity to talk with Ronnie Pellegrini of Congressperson Riggs’ Eureka office. She, as I am, is fearful about violence in our work lives. I said I thought the Conressman’s recent news release made me more fearful. We talked about asking the Clergy for Common Ground to help us to overcome his.

We talked about the ‘lost lives’ quote. She remembered her father telling her in the late 80’s that a worker had been killed in a mill. She described a worker I could identify as a fellow named George Alexander was injured at an LP mill on May 9, 1987 at Cloverdale. Alexander, whose injuries were ugly but not fatal, was subsequent interviewed in various publications. These were written by another injured party – the late Judi Bari.

>From A Times Standard Editorial: 6/11/98

Vandals, maybe, but not terrorists

While we have the highest regard and admiration for Rep. Frank Riggs, we believe his annoyance with Earth First demonstrators may be overriding his usual good judgment. Riggs this week appeared before a House Judiciary Subcommittee to call for prosecution of Earth First as a terrorist organization under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute. He alleged that this and other environmental groups that engage in civil disobedience are in fact conspiring to commit acts of criminal violence.

Exaggeration of this sort trivializes the real thing. If blocking a road is terrorism or sitting in a tree is an act of violence, then what is bombing a building or gunning down a police officer? As any conservative legal theorist will affirm, it is not sound practice to wrench interpretation of a law to cover cases not intended by the statute’s framers. The racketeering act was passed for a specific and very serious purpose – to offer society a defense against murderous professional gangsters engaged in clandestine criminal operations. It was never intended as a device to suppress
political protest, however obnoxious.

This is not to say that actual acts of violence or vandalism should not be prosecuted – they certainly should be and usually are. But prosecuting tree spikers or vandals who damage logging equipment is a very different matter from trying to outlaw an organization because some of its supporters may have engaged in illegal activities. Neither Riggs nor any responsible lawmaker, we believe, would suggest criminalize wise-use and property rights organizations, or right-to-life groups, because some unbalanced fanatics have committed murder and arson in support of these causes.