Political prisoner 'Free' reflects on green scare

By now everyone knows about the arrests and indictments handed down to 11 people charged with ELF actions. The SHAC 7 have been convicted on all counts for maintaining a website. Rod Coronado has been arrested for explaining how he committed his arsons. Activists have been arrested in Sacramento charged with thought crime. Not to mention the various Grand Jury investigations around the country.

Like it or not, the radical movement has found itself in the middle of a war. The ELF, ALF, anarchists and other radicals have been declared the number one threat to the state. The FBI devotes more time and energy to activists than it does Al-Qaeda.

For every article I write, I wonder if this will be the one that lands me back in the hole. The FBI, in connection with the Oregon Department of Corrections, reviews all my outgoing mail. Some of my mail has been censored and not allowed to go out at all. I am banned from meeting with the media. None of those who were arrested are allowed to contact me, or allowed to be contacted by me.

I’m beginning to feel a lot more like a P.O.W. than a political prisoner.

This crack down on radical activists, though it comes not unexpectedly, has begun to take its toll on me. Some of the charges stem from a solidarity action for Craig “Critter” Marshall and me. I also know people involved with these cases.

Daniel McGowan is one of my closest and dearest friends. I owe so much of the support I’ve received over the years to him. At his bail hearing they used his support and friendship for me against him. The prosecution used letters and pictures of us as if it were evidence of a crime.

I used to play in a band with Jacob Ferguson, a now known informant. I used to watch his kid. Alleged cooperating witness Sarah Harvey and I lived together for a time. She helped build the first treesit at Fall Creek.

Convicted activist Josh Harper and I go back many years. I still have the article “In honor of Jeff Luers” he wrote after my conviction. He and I have stood the line together many a time, and I do not know a more courageous and dedicated man.

It breaks my heart to see my friends falling subject to the state. I applaud Daniel, Josh and the others who have stood their ground with heads high. I am sick and disgusted with Jake. I hope that anyone cooperating with the state will again find their courage and honor, and refuse to testify.

In these harsh times the role of prisoner support takes on a whole new meaning. And it’s not enough just to support those who have been arrested and convicted. The struggle must go on the offensive. The movement can no longer sit back and let the actions of the accused stand for the hearts of the many.

These arrests are not intended to target individuals anymore than my sentence was meant to punish just me. The state has declared war on dissent. Our ideals, our dreams, our very existence as a movement has been targeted for eradication.

Detective Chuck Tilby, of the Eugene Police Department, created a report on anarchists for their journals. The content was focused on “Conflict and Terrorism in 2005”. The article detailed ways for law enforcement to create protest zones so far away from an event that it would be impractical or seem unattractive to protesters who wanted their message heard. The article suggests that police use infiltration, grand juries and informants against “above ground” activists in attempts to extinguish “under ground” activities.

Incidentally, Chuck is one of the detectives who had Critter and I under surveillance the night of our arrest. During my trial neither he nor any other officer could recall the order being put under investigation, but it did not come from within the Eugene Police Dept.

This is not the first time the state has used tactics like these. Counter insurgency tactics were employed against the American Indian Movement (AIM), and Black Panthers.

Two very powerful movements that were not stopped by government repression were the Civil Rights movement and the struggle for the eight-hour workday. There was success because no matter what the state threw at them they refused to back down. They continued their struggles with their commitment and determination.

True movements support their prisoners by replacing them on the front lines. Real struggles challenge repression with resistance.

This is a state of emergency. Not only our success, but also our existence depends on your actions. The police state is here. Everything we’ve long feared is coming to pass. This isn’t someone else’s fight anymore, it’s yours. What are you going to do about it?

-Jeff Free Luers


The Problem with Anarchist Ego

It seems that more and more anarchist publications are becoming breeding grounds for self-promoting pompous drivel. Perpetuating a cycle of discord not only among fellow anarchists, but others who could be our allies if only our heads weren’t stuck so far up our arses.

The problem is not so much a lack of ideas as it is a superiority complex. It is so easy to turn on those we disagree with because their view of a utopian society isn’t like ours whereas it is much harder to actually challenge the state.

Anarchists, leftists and activists of various sorts all seem to have one thing in common these days: the ability to direct their energy at one another rather than focus their collective energy on the sources of all our misery.

How easily do we forget? This is exactly what the state wants us to do—fight amongst ourselves. All the bickering has made us a stagnant and ineffective farce. We are so busy criticizing each other that we fail to challenge the state or even attempt to create an alternative, relegating ourselves to obscure political theory and unintelligible banter. Perhaps, most shameful of all: we fail to criticize ourselves.

I was very disappointed to read an article recently printed in Green Anarchy, “The left-handed path of repression”. It was a case in point of how easy it is to completely dismiss others, and fail to even address an important issue—likely, because (gasp!) they were critical of anarchists, perhaps even the author of said article.

I happened to live in Eugene at the time the author refers to as when the “leftist emotional plague swept through the Eugene anarchist milieu. . . “ I had a unique privilege to be accepted by all the different factions and circles of the Eugene activist scene. Thus, being able to drink beer and have discussions with the group of women and men that challenged the rhetoric and sexism inherent in the Eugene anarchist scene at the time and then going off to party with the ‘hardcore’ anarchist element—which I’m sure still includes some members of the GA collective. The ability to not be labeled by either side as “the enemy” gave me a unique perspective on the situation and also forced me into the mediator role on occasion.

There are 3 sides to every story-A, B and the truth.

Without getting into names or details, I was very involved with various elements of resistance in Eugene. Most organizing was done by a handful of white men with some rare exceptions. These men were outspoken and had a very dominant presence—which I don’t necessarily believe is a bad trait.

On the other side, there was a group of women and men who were tired of the one-way slant of these men. They sought to focus attentions on issues of sexism, racism and other community issues. Let’s be realistic—in a predominately white college town with a large activist community centered in the heart of the poor district and largely organized by a small handful of white men, the conditions are ripe for sexism, racism and elitism.

The issues these women and men raised were legitimate issues, echoed by me on more than one occasion. But, of course, there was bullshit coming from both sides, which created a dramatic season of Eugene 90210. But, progress was made, a couple of worthless pricks were run out of town, people grew and suddenly a community was trying to evolve. Women were empowered, men were frightened and nothing would ever be the same.

The allegations flew with cries of sexism from one side and allegations of infiltrator and provocateur from the other. Then, BAM, heads collided and we were left with an ineffective bunch of disorganized, disunified factions, Once again, the state is left standing.

I’m still in contact with both sides of this feud. Not a lot has changed over the years. It is disheartening and sad for such an advanced and amazing group of people to be disabled by in fighting. Sometimes, I think I’d rather live in prison than go back to Eugene.

Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to this one instance. It continues to play itself out in all of our politics. Green vs. Red. Anarchism vs. Leftism. So, I’m going to point out what I thought was obvious: It’s a big world. So big, that not one of our political leanings has the solution for everyone, everywhere. At some point, if we actually succeed in our goal of smashing the state, each of us is going to have to decide how we want to recreate our communities. I’m sure that with a world as diverse as ours, each of our communities will be different.

However, there is something standing in the way of all this, and it isn’t some red commie, lefty liberal or green caveman. It is a big, well armed, authoritarian, powerful and deadly state. I hope that faced with this reality, we will find better uses of our time. We are going to have to learn to agree to disagree because it is going to take all our collective efforts to stop this machine and bring down the beast.

We have a long way to go with so much at stake. If our publications actually focused on tactics, alternatives, what works, what doesn’t. . . If we worked on building bridges instead of burning them. . . ?

I suppose this article, like so many dreams will simply become another “what if. . . “. That’s too bad because I’d really like to see us accomplish change and not just dream about it.

I’m not sure what the future holds. I don’t even know when I’m getting out of prison. My sentence, much like our collective future, depends on what you do. It gets said over and over again, but we seem to all have thick heads. Only you can change things. Every single one of us has the power and ability to bring change but too often, we don’t recognize our own power or we allow it to be misdirected.

We have to start in our own communities and build from there. It isn’t going to work from the top down. We have to learn to work together as a diverse community and build from the bottom up. How can we hope to smash the World Bank and bring the G8 to their knees if we can’t get along long enough to do it?

If we are not willing to fight together, if we are not willing to fight for each other because she’s not an anarchist or because his god is different or simply because we disagree about something, then we don’t have anything worth fighting for. Our revolution can’t be about politics anymore. It has to be about life. It has to be about living to the fullest, sharing joy, about building and bring together sustainable communities founded on equality, freedom and respect. If that talk doesn’t start with you, who’s it going to start with?

Jeff ‘Free’ Luers #13797671

Oregon State Penitentiary

2605 State Street Salem, OR 97310