December 7th: Ten years later

From Daniel McGowan 12/7/15:

Ten years ago today, I was finishing up stuffing holiday cards for my employer when 2 beefy men asked me if i was indeed, Daniel McGowan. Once I was handcuffed and being frog-marched through the office, I knew what it was about.

At the same time, 6 of my codefendants were getting arrested at the same time. Others were receiving grand jury subpoenas as well. Sadly, all the people arrested that day became cooperating witnesses save for William Rodgers, who I knew as’Avalon’, who took his life in a county jail on the Winter Solstice, two weeks after we were arrested.

Of course, other arrests followed in the months after that, with a handful of codefendants refusing to play the game. We came together in solidarity to fight the charges and reduce the potential sentence as much as possible. For that, I will always have gratitude to Jonathan Paul, Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher (though it would be disingenuous for me to not point out the latter two peoples’ identification with esoteric fascist movements currently).

I was bonded out of jail, fought my case on house arrest for a year and months after that, worked out a plea that did not involve naming names or becoming a witness against anyone. It had repercussions for me including more time and no protection from grand juries (and surely, two years later, i was called before one as a witness and put on civil contempt of court). That said, I cannot have seen it going any other way. My regrets with the case is that more of my co-defendants did not stick with us and move forward together-something that had been the idea when worst case scenarios had been discussed years prior.

10 years later, its obvious to me every time i go to any activist event that many younger activists do not know this history. I suppose it is the struggle we all face-how to remember and memorialize, but not live in the past and nostalgia. I can tell people to watch If a Tree Falls or read Green is the New Red (thanks, Marshall Curry, Sam Cullman & Will Potter) but that is an incomplete picture. How then, do we, move forward in our fight for justice and pass on to others what we learned? Its a longer question.

I use the word “I” often in this post and perhaps others as I am talking about the past but at no point have I ever felt alone and not connected to others. Without these stalwart, loyal and amazing people in my life, I know with certainty that things would have gone a totally different way:

Jenny Malone- my former partner and best friend. The rock. The Wizard of Oz behind every aspect of the support campaign and the ‘trying to keep me sane’ campaign. G.O.A.T.  EXES 4EVAH!

My family especially my sister Lisa who funded my legal defense, let me live with her while on house arrest and did not waver or flinch one time. These people taught me loyalty.

Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan better known as FAF.
This small group worked their asses off, put on so many shows, sold a zillon t-shirts, made my court dates, wrote articles, supported me mentally, emotionally and financially, put their lives on hold for some time to make sure I would have a life to come home too. So much gratitude to all of them. I am not even in touch with all of them, which to be honest, saddens me but I have nothing but lifelong gratitude for all of them. Shoutouts to Andrew, Ainsley, Eliza, Kitty, Corey, Sideshow, Cindy, Marianne and Ryan.

This article may be the best article I have seen on the topic though its quite dated. Check it out.

Write my codees:

Rebecca Rubin #98290-011
FCI Dublin
5701 8th Street – Camp Parks
Dublin, California 94568
Birthday: April 18

rubin

Rebecca Rubin is serving a 5 year sentence for her role in a series of Earth Liberation Front (ELF) actions including the arson of the Vail Ski Resort Expansion and US Forest Industries. She also participated in the liberation of horses and the arson of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse Facilities in Litchfield, California and Burns, Oregon. Rebecca is expected to be released in September, 2017.

 

You can buy Rebecca a book (or 5!) at http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2EEY8SICPOC9D

Justin Solondz #98291-011
FCI Oakdale I
Post Office Box 5000
Oakdale, Louisiana 71463
Birthday: October 3

solondzjpg-184d7e27d46e0341

Justin Solondz pleaded guilty to conspiracy and arson for his involvement in the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arson of the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001 and the Romania Chevrolet dealership in Eugene, Oregon. Justin was imprisoned in China for three years prior to extradition. His anticipated release date is 9/23/2017.

Buffalo, NY: Leslie James Pickering facing increasing harassment by FBI

From the Buffalo News:

When Leslie James Pickering lived on the West Coast more than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical group that destroyed facilities believed to be involved in animal cruelty or environmental degradation.

That included using arson and firebombs to destroy a wild-horse slaughterhouse in Oregon, a ski resort that threatened a lynx habitat in Colorado and a University of Washington horticultural center project that the group believed – incorrectly – was involved in genetic engineering.

But life for Pickering – who says he never was a member of the secretive group, just its spokesman – became too stressful, so he returned to his home in Western New York and eventually opened Burning Books on Connecticut Street.

Now federal authorities are keeping a close watch on Pickering – checking his mail, asking past associates about whether he is capable of violent activity and requiring greater clearance when he travels by air – even though he insists he has done nothing to run afoul of the law.

Are Pickering’s views and past associations reason enough for law enforcement agencies to look into what he’s doing now?

The FBI, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center all considered the Earth Liberation Front that Pickering represented to be involved in “eco-terrorism” that resulted in tens of millions of dollars in property damage.

But Pickering has not been the group’s spokesman for more than a decade, although he still justifies illegal actions against corporations and government agencies under certain circumstances for what he and others consider to be a greater good.

“I’ve had a very public position for almost my whole activist career, and that hasn’t allowed me to do any of this illegal activity I’ve defended,” Pickering said. “Even in my wildest dreams, I might have loved to have been a Robin Hood hero, but that’s not what landed in my lap.”

But Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, thinks law enforcement agencies have good reason to keep tabs on Pickering.

“He’s still advocating a pretty radical ideology, and in some sort of way violence against property, and this is criminal activity that will get the attention of law enforcement,” Segal said.

Pickering – who notes that ELF actions never resulted in physical harm to a person or an animal – has gained a small but vocal group of followers in Buffalo, who feel he is being singled out for having leftist views. Roughly 150 of them attended a fundraiser on his behalf last month.

“I do not advocate any kind of property destruction or illegal activity because of what someone says or thinks. [But] when it’s a company or a government agency that is doing massive physical harm, acting with impunity and not listening to public opinion, then you have to do something about it,” said Pickering, who notes that every social justice movement has had an element of radical activism.

But he insists his views are besides the point. “I’m a bookstore owner,” he said.

Tracking activities

Here’s how security agencies have tracked him in recent months:

• Last September, the FBI called a friend of Pickering’s he had been largely out of touch with for years and asked who Pickering associated with in Buffalo, and if he was capable of violent and illegal activity.

• That same month, a card appeared to have been mistakenly delivered to Pickering’s home mailbox, indicating the post office at 465 Grant St. was providing surveillance of his mail from mid-August to mid-September at the request of an unspecified law enforcement agency.

“Show all mail to supervisor for copying prior to going out on the street,” the card read, with Pickering’s name, the date of the surveillance and “Confidential” written in green highlighter.

• In mid-February, an entity that his bookstore interacts with was presented with a federal grand jury subpoena to provide records.

• On March 3, Pickering was briefly detained in Buffalo by officers from the Transit Security Administration – a branch of the Department of Homeland Security – and reissued a United Airlines ticket with additional screening measures.

Michael Kuzma, Pickering’s attorney, tried to pry loose information from federal authorities through Freedom of Information requests, but met roadblocks.

Representatives of the FBI’s Buffalo office, the U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Transit Security Administration all declined to say whether Pickering was under surveillance or investigation.

“It’s been stressful, and I think that’s kind of the point. We’re not doing anything wrong, but this whole process is designed to make us feel like we are, and make other people think we are,” said Theresa Baker-Pickering, with whom Leslie has a 3-year-old daughter.

Social purpose

Pickering, who grew up in East Aurora and West Seneca, said he knew by his early teens that he wanted his life to be guided by a social purpose. He found it initially in the animal-rights movement after moving to San Francisco with his mother, a nurse, after 10th grade at West Seneca East High School.

Pickering became involved a few years later with the Liberation Collective in Portland, Ore., and estimates he was arrested two dozen times for acts of civil disobedience, including seven convictions for violations or misdemeanors, the last in 1999.

The Liberation Collective also began receiving unsigned “communiques” from the Earth Liberation Front, which between 1997 and 2001 committed more than 30 acts of destruction – at sites ranging from automobile dealerships and housing developments to logging companies and universities – that averaged $2.5 million in damages.

Those actions were championed by supporters, and condemned by others – especially those victimized by the actions.

“ELF firebombings are hate crimes against those of us whose missions in life are to increase human knowledge and bring a sense of wonder to the classes we teach,” University at Washington professor Toby Bradshaw wrote after his office was firebombed in the mistaken belief that he was planning to conduct experiments on genetically engineered trees.

Pickering and another activist, Craig Rosebraugh, opened the ELF’s official press office in 2000 and ran it for two years. They issued press releases, held news conferences and defended ELF’s practices, with Pickering’s media appearances ranging from Rolling Stone to Fox News.

Law enforcement took notice. The house they shared was raided twice by the FBI, which carted away computers and other equipment but never leveled charges.

It was after that incident that Pickering – who said he never knew the identities of ELF members until they were arrested – returned home to work on the family’s small blueberry farm outside East Aurora.

 

A different path

Pickering returned to school and graduated from Goddard College in Vermont with master’s degrees in history and journalism. He wrote books on the ELF and on Sam Melville, who in 1969 was involved in bombing the Federal Office Building and other government and commercial buildings in New York City before being killed in the 1971 Attica Prison uprising.

In 2008, Pickering, his wife and Nate Buckley bought the Connecticut Street building where Burning Books is located, and after extensive remodeling, opened their store two years ago.

The store is filled with books and videos about radical history, many about the 1960s and ’70s, on subjects from the Black Panther Party and Malcolm X to historians Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, as well as animal rights, environmental activism, labor struggles and international movements for social justice. The bookstore also hosts speakers and community gatherings.

Posters commemorate the Attica uprising, Che Guevara and Leonard Peltier, and there are flyers in support of Bradley Manning, a soldier charged with leaking national secrets, and a petition against hydraulic fracturing.

The bookstore also carries the 2011 Academy Award-nominated documentary, “If a Tree Fell: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” in which Pickering appears.

“We all know Buffalo is small enough, and there is no terrorist threat,” said Kuzma, Pickering’s attorney. [Fear of terrorism] has been used by the people who really own and run this country to curtail our civil liberties, and Leslie is a victim of this.”

But Segal of the Anti-Defamation League thinks Pickering is a legitimate person of interest to federal authorities.

“[The ELF] did advocate a pretty radical ideology in terms of pushing for a form of violence in the street,” Segal said. “Even if it’s in your past, you’re going to be looked at by law enforcement.”

FBI Monitored Anarchists, “Militant Feminists”

If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Officials: Informant violated probation

An arsonist who testified against radical environmentalists is back in jail

By Jack Moran
The Register-Guard
Published: Today
Jacob Jeremiah Ferguson, the arsonist-turned- informant who helped federal officials convict 10 co-conspirators in the largest-ever prosecution of underground environmental radicals, was arrested this week after authorities accused him of violating terms of the probation he received in 2008 in exchange for his cooperation with the government.
Ferguson, a 38-year-old Eugene resident, is being held in the Lane County Jail. He is scheduled to appear Monday in U.S. District Court in Eugene for a status conference.
A spokeswoman in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland did not have information on what led officials to arrest Ferguson for an alleged probation violation.
If Ferguson’s probation is revoked, he could be sent to prison.
Ferguson pleaded guilty in 2007 to one count each of arson and attempted arson, as part of an agreement with prosecutors that allowed him to avoid prison and instead be placed on probation for five years. Continue reading

Steve Murphy update: food situation improves, hunger strike ended

From Steve’s support crew:

January 6, 2010:
We received this message from Steve this morning :

—————

Hey folks
Please stop contacting the prison. my food sitch has improved slightly for
now. it will get better once we are off full lock down too.
thank you all for the love and support!!!

Much love to you all!!!

S~
—————

Thanks for all that sent messages, emails, phone calls and sent letters to
Steve.

Support Crew

Operation Backfire prisoner Jonathan Paul freed

Paul From Earth First News:

Jonathan Paul has been released from prison and is on his way back to Oregon where he will be required to spend some time at a halfway house before returning to his wife and animal children. One more of the non-cooperating heroes freed. Send him your support as he begins the difficult process of putting a life back together after 5 years of hell. click here for more.

Friends of Jonathan Paul
PMB 267
2305 Ashland St., Ste. C
Ashland, OR 97520

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