Jeff “Free” Luers was sentenced June 11 to nearly 23 years on 11 charges ranging from Arson I to Attempted Criminal Mischief. The charges stemmed from two incidents last year in Eugene, Oregon. Free admitted to criminal mischief regarding a truck fire at Romania Chevrolet last summer.
At the sentencing he read a statement taking responsibility for the Romania fire, and emphasizing the care he took to ensure no one would be injured. “It cannot be said that I am unfeeling or uncaring. My heart is filled with love and compassion. I fight to protect life … all life. Not to take it. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re experiencing a period of extinction equal to that of the dinosaurs. 40,000 species go extinct each year, yet we continue to pollute and exploit the natural world…. I will not ask this court to grant me leniency. All I ask is that you believe the sincerity of my words, and that you believe that my actions, whether or not you believe them to be misguided, stem from the love I have in my heart.”
The judge responded by saying that he “never doubted Free’s sincerity”. He stated that Free’s political beliefs would not influence the sentencing, and that he would be sentenced “solely on the severity of the crimes”. Yet Free received a sentence harsher than that of many murderers and rapists.
We are not so naive as to say we’re surprised by the sentence, but it nevertheless comes as a shock. An analogy I shared with Free on the phone yesterday is that we’ve had someone with a clenched fist standing in front of us for a year saying “I’m going to punch you.” Even though we were expecting it, it still took our breath away. The judge made many comments during the trial that indicated he’d already decided the outcome. He was often seen completely ignoring the testimony, typing on his laptop instead of listening. An appeal is already underway.
Throughout the past year, Free was forced to remain silent about his actions at Romania Chevrolet, due to the fact that the State insisted on linking the two incidents, Romania and Tyree Oil Company, together. The judge denied many motions to separate the two. Free has stated and maintains that he had no involvement in the attempted arson at Tyree Oil.
The Legal Defense Committee asks for your continuing support of Free and Critter and other Prisoners of War. Make no mistake, a war is being waged on the earth and all its creatures. Do not participate in the State’s campaign to marginalize and incapacitate those who take radical action in defense of the earth. Failure to support our political prisoners is tantamount to sanctioning repression by the State.
For now, letters can be mailed to both Free and Critter c/o the Legal Defense Committee at PO Box 50263, Eugene, OR 97404. Free’s new address will soon be available. Checks and money orders to assist with Free’s appeal can still be sent to FCLDF, c/o OUR Credit Union, PO Box 11192, Eugene, OR 97440. www.efn.org/~eugpeace/freecritter.
Thanks to all our steadfast supporters. Your help has been inspiring and irreplaceable.
Howl for Free and Critter. Howl for all political prisoners. They will hear you.