Arrests continue in Goverment Eco-crackdown

Slingshot issue #89 reported the December arrests of a number of people accused of involvement with actions claimed by the Earth Liberation Front/Animal Liberation Front. Unfortunately, a few days after we took the paper to the press, a number of additional people were arrested and there were an number of additional developments in the case. Here’s an update:

On January 19, the FBI arrested Jonathan Paul and Suzanne Savoie. Following his arrest Jonathan Paul was charged with involvement in an ALF arson on a horsemeat packing plant/slaughter house; whilst Suzanne was charged with involvement in an ELF arson on the offices of a lumber mill.

A few days after Jonathan & Suzanne’s arrests the FBI released a 65 count indictment against eleven people: Joseph Dibee, Chelsea Gerlach, Sarah Harvey, Daniel McGowan, Stanislas Meyerhoff, Josephine Overaker, Rebecca Rubin, Darren Thurston, Kevin Tubbs, Jonathan Paul and Suzanne Savoie. The FBI made it clear that there were others involved in that case who had not yet been identified.

On the February 23, the FBI announced they had arrested Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher, accusing them of involvement in an ELF arson against a poplar tree farm.

And on March 30, the government unsealed an indictment charging Briana Waters, 30, of Berkeley, Calif., with involvement in the arson of the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001. She faces a life sentence if convicted. She was released from custody after turning herself in and pleading not guilty.

The majority of the defendants in this case (the original eleven defendants named in the FBI document) are charged with involvement in an over-arching “Conspiracy to Commit Arson” and “Conspiracy to Commit Arson and Destruction of an Energy Facility”. The prosecution alleges that the conspiracy included 15 actions that involved arson, 2 attempted arsons and the production of an incendiary guide manual. Two of the alleged arsons were against wild horse corals and besides the fires it is alleged that wild horses were also released from their captivity.

The two conspiracy charges do not allege that the eleven defendants facing these charges where involved with all of the alleged actions. Conspiracy charges means that it is immaterial how much personal involvement each or any of the defendants had with any of the alleged actions.

Besides the two over-arching conspiracy charges, the defendants also each face a series of personal charges for their alleged involvement in the various actions. Some face as many as 57 individual charges. The reason why some of the defendants are facing multiple arson charges for their alleged involvement in one or two actions is because the FBI are placing one charge of arson against people for every single vehicle burnt in an action. So for example, during the arson on the SUV dealership thirty-five vehicles were destroyed so that is thirty-five separate charges of arson.

As we previously reported, following his arrest Stanislas Meyerhoff became a police informant. Since issue #89, Kevin Tubbs and Sarah Harvey have also both been named in open court as cooperating with the authorities although at this stage it is unknown what level of cooperation they have given the police. Other informants in this case have been named, in open court, as Jacob Ferguson and Jen Kolar.

Out of the other ten defendants, who are not cooperating with the police: Joseph Dibee, Rebecca Rubin and Josephine Overtaker have not yet been located by the FBI and it is believed these three are no longer living in the USA.

Daniel McGowan, Suzanne Savoie and Jonathan Paul have all been released from prison on conditional bail until their trial.

Chelsea Gerlach, Darren Thurston, Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher remain in prison. Initially the Prosecution indicated they wished to hold a series of separate trials for each of the separate charges against each individual defendant. However the latest indication is the authorities have decided on one big show trial to be held in October 2006.

Support Campaigns have now been set up for the majority of the defendants in this case.

• Chelsea Gerlach, #1308678, PO Box 50307 Eugene, OR 97405

• Daniel McGowan, send donations to Lisa McGowan PO Box 106 New York, NY 10156.

• Nathan Block

• Suzanne Savoie

• Darren Thurston

• Joyanna Zacher

You can write to those in custody in Eugene at [name & # of prisoner] Lane County Jail 101 W 5th Ave Eugene, OR 97401.

All of these folks are the victims of a government witch-hunt and need our support. We have every reason to assume that all those arrested are innocent of the crimes of which they are accused, and that they will eventually be found innocent and released. We also have every reason to believe that people everywhere will continue to resist industries and institutions that destroy the earth. Finally, we have every reason to believe that the government will do everything it can to frighten the environmental movement by framing-up innocent activists. We won’t be scared and we won’t stop our actions to defend the earth.