The last four activists accused in federal court in Eugene, Oregon of involvement with a number of Earth Liberation Front-claimed arsons against eco-destroying targets — victims of Operation Backfire and the so-called greenscare — accepted plea bargain deals on November 9, 2006. Daniel McGowan, Jonathan Paul, Joyanna Zacher, and Nathan Block took the plea deals but refused to cooperate with the government investigation and won’t have to snitch on any fellow activists in exchange for their plea deals. These brave activists who held out for reasonable deals face sentencing in April and need your support.
This means that only Briana Waters is still facing a May 7 trial in Washington for alleged involvement with an arson attack on the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001 that was claimed by the Earth Liberation Front. She faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years in prison if convicted. A number of the defendants who agreed to cooperate with the government are expected to testify against her. Briana — a mom and violin teacher — maintains her innocence and needs powerful support from the environmental community.
In April, 10 defendants will face sentencing for a variety of arsons claimed by the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. Under plea deals, the government and each defendant agreed on a recommended sentence of eight years, except for Jonathan Paul who got a five year recommended sentence.
However, despite the fact than none of the defendants in the case were ever charged with the crime of terrorism, federal prosecutors have announced that they will seek terrorism sentence enhancements of up to an additional 20 years in prison against the defendants. No human being was injured in any of the ALF/ELF arsons and in fact there is evidence that great efforts were made to avoid human injuries in all of the arsons Labeling these acts as “terrorism” shows the government’s willingness to use fear generated by 9-11 against domestic political radicals.
It appears that the defendants will challenge the constitutionality of the terrorism sentence enhancement, as it applies to all defendants, before Stanislas Meyerhoff’s sentencing hearing on April 10. (This date could be changed at a March 2 status hearing.) Meyerhoff was the first of the defendants to agree to cooperate with the government and testify against his friends. Depending on the result of the hearing, the sentencing dates set for other defendants may be changed. As Slingshot goes to press, the sentencing dates are: Kevin Tubbs, April 17; Chelsea Gerlach, April 18; Darren Thurston, April 19; Suzanne Savoie and Kendall Tankersley, April 20; Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher, April 25; Daniel McGowan, April 26; and Jonathan Paul, April 30.
The judge will have discretion at the sentencing hearings to give more or less jail time to the non-cooperating defendants. They are thus seeking letters of support from those who know them.
Briana needs help raising funds for her May 7, 2007 trial as well as statements of support from those who know her. She is free on bail. Contact supportbriana.org for more information.
Joyanna Zacher, and Nathan Block have remained in jail since their arrest and need support. You can write to them at the address below or contact their support committee:
• Nathan Block #1663667, Lane County Jail, 101 W 5th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401
• Joyanna Zacher #1662550, Lane County Jail, 101 W 5th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401
Daniel and Jonathan are out on bail. Direct support to them at: www.supportdaniel.org, Friends of Jonathan Paul, PMB 267, 2305 Ashland Street, Ste. C, Ashland, OR 97520, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the greenscare, check out cldc.org, grescare.org or portland.indymedia.org.