Oregonian article on Solo auction
This article appeared on the front page of the Metro section in today's Oregonian
A couple of notes to the readers and previous posters on the topic. First, the person who's truck was blockaded was indeed Thomas Creek Lumber's President Brent Walker. They do not have their own mill but hire others to cut and haul the trees to mills who will pay the highest price. Basically they are middle men. They have been convicted of timber theft from public land twice in the past. The products of their logging, then, appear under various labels (such as Freres Lumber, possibly Roseburg Forest Products, and others) and are sold at stores like BMC West where 15 people went later in the day to deliver a message that if BMC West sells lumber from the above (and several other) companies, they are contributing to the destruction of public land and endangered old growth forests here and abroad, including the contentious Solo timber sale. The message was that they should quickly work to boycott the wood from these companies if they care about the protection of native forests and don't want to face increasing pressure themselves.
Second, in the article below, the Clackamas County Sheriff's office paints an innacurate picture of what happened. However, the Clackamas Sheriffs were not on the scene when the shit really went down and were called in later. In the article, they are repeating lies from the aggressive Forest Service, Sandy Police, and Federal Protective Service's officers who are trying to cover their asses and justify why they attacked the crowd without issuing any sort of dispersal order. For instance, after the crowd was attacked physically, but before spray was used, a SMALL PLASTIC BOTTLE was tossed onto the windshield of the logging company owner's car. It did not hit any officers, nor was it thrown at them. The allegations relating to the 'menacing' charge are similarly unclear and should not be taken at face value. Video reveals the Sandy Police first losing their shit and pepper spraying people point blank in the eyes. But to repeat, the law enforcement attacked the crowd - shoving people to the ground, throwing people to the ground and at least one into blackberry brambles, and pepper spraying people in the face without ever having issued a dispersal order. They were out of control.
The article below is right on to point out that Solo is part of a bigger fight. There are over 150 timber sales that will likely cut nearly 50,000 acres of ancient forest on our public lands in western Oregon and Washington alone in the next couple of years. Now the Bush Administration and pro-timber members of Congress want to suspend all environmental laws in the current climate of wildfires. Thomas Creek Lumber, along with Freres, Roseburg Forest Products, Columbia Helicopter and more, were big 'soft money' contributors to Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. Never mind the science, never mind the facts - the industry smells blood and wants to go for it all, and its political payback time. The public has every right to be outraged.
I personally agree that there were misguided people at the protest who resorted to loud, testosterone laden personal taunts of the law enforcement - even before the cops flipped. Loud agro men dominated the scene sometimes. I think that stuff is counterproductive and it is in fact completely possible that we had some agent provocateurs at the protest trying to bring that stuff out. The vast majority of people were extremly composed however, even after being attacked by the pigs. They held their ground even after being attacked and had every right to try and do so, they were doing nothing illegal and were never told they were.
I think law enforcement officers are in the role of being stooges for their bosses, and bosses in general and the corporate elite (timber company presidents included). Because of this it is very easy for people to focus their anger on cops and not the real people pulling the puppet strings. It is always a challenge at any protest on how to deal with this dynamic, because the cops are literally between you and the puppet masters. But to fight the cops or not fight the cops, that is not really the question, but better it is perhaps to not taunt them personally before they make any significant moves to squelch your freedom. That's my personal opinion as someone who wants to not let the cops take away from the message. Its complicated by the fact that many of the Forest Service cops have a multi-year history of becoming violent at demonstrations (Dan Blythe, Daniel Fahrni (sp?) were both very aggressive at the Solo auction and have been so in the past) and they probably take this shit way too personally. That's partly why they lie to their supervisors and other law enforcement officers about the facts of the case, so they can appear justified. But in defending their right to gather peacefully in front of the truck of a timber company president, the uncompromising nature of the activists on the scene was a breath of fresh air and much better than the standard picket sign waving affair.
Highest bidder wins right to log in contested forest
Amid a noisy protest, pepper spray and two arrests, the U.S. Forest Service auctioned the
rights to log about 160 acres of Mount Hood National Forest timber Tuesday morning.
Although officials must finalize the
auction, the winner among two
bidders seems to be Stayton-based
Thomas Creek Lumber & Log Co.,
Forest Service spokesman Glen
Sachet said. The company bid
$507,496, almost twice the
minimum, he said.
Along with the timber rights,
Thomas Creek may have won years
Several Northwest activist groups
have pledged to fight the Solo
timber sale as they did the Eagle
Creek timber sale near Estacada.
The government canceled that sale
in April, after seven years of protests
marked by arrests and the death of a
22-year-old woman who fell from a
The Cascadia Forest Alliance has
already put anti-logging activists in
a tree-sit platform in a 400-year-old
Douglas fir in the Solo site, group
member Jill Howdyshell said. "If
anyone's buying this, they're also
buying tons of public notice and Eagle Creek-style opposition," Howdyshell said.
Activists said the Solo acreage includes some trees that are several centuries old,
including Pacific yew trees. Scientists also have found a rare type of lichen on some of the
The Forest Service will not let loggers cut trees that support that fungus and will require
them to leave some of the oldest and biggest trees, Sachet said.
But activists said the plan won't leave enough trees to let the survivors weather wind storms
and other problems. They also said the Solo sale is within the Oak Grove watershed and
that cutting trees there could contaminate the drinking-water supply for more than 100,000
Howdyshell said she sent a letter to about 10 logging companies to discourage their
interest in buying rights to log Solo. The letter said that it did not "intend to sound
coercive" but warned that "any attempt to fulfill a contract would face the complications
of citizens willing to conduct nonviolent civil disobedience to prevent logging."
On Tuesday, the protest began at 8:30 a.m. when about 100 activists -- estimates varied
from 50 to 250 -- gathered outside the Forest Service building in Sandy, the site of the
auction. All sides said the protest was peaceful until Thomas Creek President Brent Walker
left to get in his car.
Protesters then rushed to block his path, said Deputy Angie Blanchard, a Clackamas
County sheriff's spokeswoman. Officers from the sheriff's department, Sandy Police
Department and the Forest Service got caught between Walker's car and advancing
protesters, she said. Walker did not return two calls for comment Tuesday.
Blanchard said someone from the crowd threw a bottle that hit one officer, while another
protester took out a can of pepper spray and aimed it at the police. At that point, she said,
Clackamas County deputies sprayed the crowd with pepper spray and Walker drove off.
Police cited Angelia Pollick, 23, of Salt Lake City on accusations of menacing and
disorderly conduct and Jesse Brown, 24, of Portland on an accusation of disorderly
conduct, Blanchard said. Both were later released, she said.
Both sides said the protest grew intense because Solo is symbolic of a bigger fight. The
Bush administration is making an extra push to sell timber in the Northwest for logging,
despite public opposition, activists said.
Sachet agreed that the Forest Service is working to increase the amount of timber sales, to
more closely approach the levels envisioned in the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan. But he
said such sales are carefully planned and limited.
More than 85 percent of Mount Hood National Forest is off-limits for timber cutting, he
said, and the remaining areas have limits on logging the oldest trees and those near
streams. The government must sell the remaining timber to provide needed products and
jobs, he said.
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