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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

07/31/02

ANDY DWORKIN

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
of headaches.

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
"tree-sit."

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
trees.

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
Oregonians.

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.
Thanks! 31.Jul.2002 12:28

Todd

Good article! Thanks for adding the information about the BMC West, and Thomas Creek.

More analysis of the Oregonian article 31.Jul.2002 15:49

Jeremy David Stolen fellowtraveler@riseup.net

I wholeheartedly agree with "concerned activist"'s assessment that the Oregonian article does nothing other than parrot lies when it comes to describing the details of the direct action component of the protest. I confirm this as a first-hand witness to the events who was close enough that my eyes were itchy from the pepper spray.

I spoke to Andy Dworkin, the author of the Oregonian article, on the phone. Dworkin is not the paper's usual forest issues reporter; generally he covers health topics. This story was assigned to him because the forest issues reporter was covering the fires. Dworkin confirmed that "unfortunately" no one from the paper was present at the auction and protest. Dworkin says he spoke with Clackamas County Sheriff Dept. and Forest Service employees, including one person from each agency who was at the protest. He also said he spoke to more than one protester who was there.

Dworkin claims, then, to have cast a wide net in gathering information for this story. His account, however, gives us the words of only one fish. Nowhere in the account does he quote anyone who was present, either protester or officer. What we've got, with Dworkin quoting Blanchard, is someone who wasn't there quoting someone else who wasn't there. This is third-hand information of a quality that in social circles we would call "gossip". Considering that the close relationship between corporate media, law enforcement, and government essentially is a social circle, it is not surprising that Dworkin doesn't quote anyone from outside it. The result is a description of an event that is filled with misleading word choices, disingenuous assertions, and outright lies.

As with most corporate newswriting, a specific emotional impression is imparted by using a style that sounds unemotional. "Objective reporting" of this type is nothing more than a stylistic choice in which a matter-of-fact tone and "said [blank]" attributions provide thin cover for a particular point of view. With Dworkin's protest account, the emotional impression given is that aggressive protesters attacked a man and that law enforcement officers who found themselves trapped in the middle were forced to defend the man and themselves from violence. Impressions stick with people after facts are forgotten. Dworkin has done a brilliant job of contributing to the impression that protesters are violent and that law enforcement must respond to them with the use of weaponry. Law enforcement and government agencies want the population to have this impression so they can justify their budgets, their malicious desires, and their efforts at further social control. This type of reporting, that Dworkin uses here, is not "objective" and in this case is not even factual.

Let's look more closely at the 2 1/2 paragraphs that describe the direct action. I have highlighted some words or phrases for emphasis.

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.

"peaceful until... protesters... rushed to block..." "[Law enforcement officers] got caught between Walker's car and advancing protesters.: Describing the chain of events this way paints the protesters as aggressive and the law enforcement officers as weak or even impotent. This was not at all the case. It's true that protesters moved to block Walker's car, but the law enforcement officers weren't "caught" anywhere. They placed themselves between the car and the protesters purposefully, in much the same way that they placed themselves around Walker as they brought him out. In other words, the officers acted as they are trained to act. In fact, they did their job well enough that at no point was there a possibility that Walker would come into contact with a protester. Would he have come to harm if he had? I seriously doubt that. The forest kids are first and foremost defenders of life. They like to yell and shout, but guess what? The destruction of the last bits of old growth forest left in the world is worth yelling and shouting about. When lawsuits, letters and comments don't work -- and the fact that 75% of the U.S. population wants to save the old growth is ignored -- it's time to yell and shout.

Then we've got what sound like two fat lies. The bottle that hit the officer and the can of pepper spray allegedly pulled out by a protester. These assertions are simply untrue to my knowledge, but no denial or counter-story is provided by protesters in Dworkin's account. These are big accusations to make, but Dworkin gives the reader only what "Blanchard said". That sure ain't balanced.

"peaceful until" is a key phrase here, too. "peaceful is often used in corporate media as a foil for "violent". So, "until" what "violence" is the not so subtle subtext. Until the police started pushing people and pepper-spraying them in the face? No, until the protesters "rushed to block". That's presented as the violence here, which is pre-excusing the law enforcement for using pepper spray later. But was the rushing violent? No. Is there a history of forest kids being violent? No.

The truth is that it was peaceful until law enforcement officers started pushing people, at which time the forest kids remained non-violent. Dworkin doesn't mention the pushing, the lack of warning for the pushing, or the smiles on the faces of officers who were doing the pushing. Were the law enforcement officers being violent? Yes. Is there a history of law enforcement officers being violent? Yes. And yet what we are given is a version of reality in which the opposite is true.

Word to Dworkin: how you wrote this story is complete bullshit. Do you know you're a professional scam artist, or have you managed to convince yourself you're just a professional? Well wake up, man, 'cause you're making the world better for the oppressors and worse for the oppressed. You're not being "objective" or "balanced" -- you're just a gear in the corporate dominance machine, and that machine doesn't care about you. It'll chew you up and spit you out without a thought, because it doesn't think. It just consumes. Either shake it up in there with some truth, or get out, 'cause right now you're helping make the world a worse place for everyone.

I hardly ever read the corporate media anymore because it makes me so angry when I do and I end up spending all this time deconstructing it that would be better spent on creating alternatives like indymedia. I urge others to do the same. The lies in the corporate media are carefully constructed, the misinformation cunningly disguised, and its manipulative nature concealed with a very professional veneer. It takes a high level of alertness to avoid letting it poison your mind and get anything good out of it at all. Better to just stay away.


What do you support? 01.Aug.2002 12:54

frog

"The Central Intelligence Agency owns anyone of any significance in the major media."

William Colby - Former CIA director

Corporate media is propaganda. . .Too many people have not weaned themselves of it. They still buy these 'newspapers' and are brainwashed by it. Many people fool themselves by saying they are not affected by it, that they are smarter than it, but this is not true. It affects everyone who reads it, and it is a foolish arrogance to think otherwise.

It is an addiction. Many progressive people are addicted to the trappings of this decadent society. Clinging to the destructive ways of gross overconsumption and in denial about it.

There is all this talk about sustainable culture, but few so called progressive minded people examine what it would mean to live sustainably and then actually do it in their own lives.

Freedom is not indulgence of the mind, but rather freedom from the indulgent mind.

Some people call it a priviledged life, but it is not a priviledge, which is something good and desireable. It is a pathology, an indulgence of ego and selfishness at a time when human beings must learn a new way of living.

If a person is serious about a new world, then it is past time to get serious about living it.

Thanks for the insight Jeremy S. 02.Aug.2002 11:38

Eddy

I was walking by the Thomas Creek Prez Brent Walker's driver's side door when a PLASTIC juice bottle thrown by a protester splashed juice or perhaps soy milk on his Bronco's windshield. Never did the timber sale buyer/prez appear frightened. In fact I was impressed by his steely composure.

Mr. Walker was never in danger, locked safely in his SUV with cops all around him.

I never saw a protester with pepper spray, which isn't to say that someone didn't have some. (I hope nobody was brazen enough to aim pepper spray at cops like Dan Fahrni who have a history of violence.)

One key thing: there was no order to disperse whatsoever before certain (not all) cops went "ballisitic."

Jeremy's analysis of the language suitably backs up his argument. Good work!

Jeremy, it sounds like you have communicated with Dworkin. Please send him your review if you haven't alreay. An editorial to the Oregonian summarizing your key points would also be great.

contact the Oregonian and give them the facts 02.Aug.2002 16:08

CaptainPlanet

I talked just now with several people at the Oregonian newsroom, they claim that they have received no phone calls whatsoever about this story. If that's true: shame, shame.

MAKE SOME NOISE! I MADE IT EASY FOR YOU:

Here is the contact info for Andy Dworkin (author of the article), Len Reed (of the Environment & Science dept.), also an email address for comments about articles:

Andy Dworkin:
503-221-8239
 andydworkin@news.oregonian.com

Len Reed:
503-294-7667
 lenreed@news.oregonian.com

Comments:
 publiceditor@news.oregonian.com


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