Continued from Part 1, the fun part.
Thomas Creek Lumber purchased the Solo timber sale at the auction on Tuesday at the Mt. Hood Forest Service HQ. After the auction was over, Brent Walker, President of Thomas Creek, exited the building surrounded by a phalanx of law enforcement officers. That should have told him something about his choice right there. If you're doing the right thing, you don't need to feel scared. He didn't need to be protected from anything in the parking lot that day except the truth, which is that he is an eco-rapist who needs to find a way to make a living that doesn't involve murdering old growth trees. Law enforcement was of course more than willing to help shield him from the trees' messengers; that's their job. It's also their job to make a big show of things and play this stuff up so they can make forest activists look threatening. People buy the lies because corporate thug publications like the Oregonian publish them without question or qualification. A global war is raging between the oppressors and the oppressed. Law enforcement, corporate media, and lumber companies are on the side of the oppressors. Individuals like Walker need to switch sides.
The forest activists blocked Walker's gas-guzzling S.U.V. so it couldn't move. It was important for Walker to understand that the destruction of old growth forest and the Solo sale in particular will be actively resisted at every opportunity, including this was one. "When you bought Solo, you bought us." The law enforcement officers placed themselves strategically between the truck and the activists. They did not "get caught" there as the Oregonian's Andy Dworkin reported.
The law enforcement officers started pushing the activists. They gave no order to disperse. Amusingly, they picked out one activist, told him he was the leader, and instructed him to tell everyone to back up. He insisted that he was not in charge, but they pressed him, so he said, "Okay everybody, back up." No one moved of course, and the officers told him to say it again with more feeling. He did so, louder, and again no one moved. I guess they don't believe us when we say we don't have any leaders because they're unable to imagine that things could work that way. Well guess what, freddie, the whole world could work much better if it didn't work your way.
According to another post, the plain clothes officer in the photos above is apparently Daniel Fahrni, a "USFS officer with history of violence was pushing people with excessive force... He consistently refused to identify himself." He's the one who's smiling in the bottom middle photo. Total jerk, this guy. Emma Goldwoman is right; male domination and violence is at the heart of our sick society's problems. Perhaps it's not the absolute root, but it's a deep, leading (bleeding) cause.
I don't know if Walker was surprised by the strong reaction against his bad choice. His company has been convicted of timber theft from public land twice, so apparently he has some issues of conscience to work through. That the Forest Service would continue to do business with someone who's screwed them over at least twice already is an additional travesty. Not that F.S. is in it for the money; the timber sale program is a big money-loser for them, which means that it's a big loser for us.
The animal rights movement uses some very creative tactics of active non-violent resistance. Black faxes, phone blockades, protests in front of executives' homes, flyering their neighbors, vomiting on tradeshow tables. "Direct action gets the goods".
Eventually, the officers made enough space for the truck to crawl out of its parking space. However, to exit the lot, it still had to drive first to one end and then turn and drive back the other way, down another aisle. The activists poured into the next aisle to block the vehicle again. Walker was driving pretty fast and it was hard to get in front of it. He didn't seem too worried about hitting people; no one got hurt but it was a bit scary. Another act of violence that went unreported in the Oregonian: bearing down on someone with a 3,000 pound hunk of metal and glass. The violent behavior of the officers toward the activists earlier could have helped validate in Walker's head the idea that such behavior was acceptable. Violent men reinforcing violence in other violent men. Charming. And you wonder why they're called "pigs".
The SUV rolled steadily through the parking lot toward the exit. At one point the activists had nearly stopped it, but officers forced their way between the people and the vehicle to help it move forward. I was walking along, mostly backwards, about 15 in front of it, sometimes a little less. When the pepper spray started flying it was sudden and surprising. I heard no warnings, order to disperse, or even a statement that what we were doing was illegal and we should stop. I didn't spot the cannisters in the officers' hands until I looked at the photos. (They are circled in red in the photos above.) Shoving and pushing one moment gave way to toxic chemicals in the next.
I smelled it and felt it in my eyes. I saw the people who'd gotten it right in the face lurching in pain, like trees bent over in a high wind. A ripple of panic went through the crowd, which began to thin and move faster, but immediately activists started yelling, "Don't run! Walk! Don't run!" I felt some fear but knew that was good advice and I made the strongest effort to push the panic away and not speed up. Other people were staying too, and it felt good not to give up after being attacked. Those who had gotten hits in the face dropped off to the side and people stopped to help them. I stuck with the crowd in front of the truck, snapping snapping snapping pics, in case the officers started getting crazy again. If they do something stupid you want it on film so you can get them in trouble, and hopefully remove them from positions where they are able to act out their violent urges.
Everyone stayed with the truck until it was almost to the street. There was somehow a feeling that the rules wouldn't be the same there and that we could stand our ground. I don't know what the legal differences are between blocking traffic in a street or in a forest service parking lot, so I can't say. But the officers picked that moment, right before spilling onto the street, to hit us with the pepper spray again. This time the SUV was able to break through and drive away.
These two got sprayed directly in the face. I felt so bad for them. My exposure from 15 feet away was mild and though it was becoming more agitating (and I made the mistake of touching my eye, which immediately made it start burning) these guys had gotten a bath in it. Everybody handed over their water bottles and a couple knowledgeable people went to work holding the victims' eyes open and flushing them out. Unfortunately, there wasn't much medical preparation for this protest, so these folks didn't get as much relief as they really needed. I've been told since that a water/Maalox eyewash is what you want for these situations.
Everyone -- activists and officers alike -- walked back to the backdoor of the building. The law enforcement folks were strangely subdued and not trying to corral anyone or anything. Many activists were yelling at them, and I totally felt why. Seeing beautiful, caring people who are dedicating their lives to saving life get attacked is disgusting. I was angry and a little depressed. I yelled some too. F'n pigs. Yeah yeah yeah, they're people too, but they were acting like f'n pigs and deserved to be called that at that moment.
Law enforcement really ought to question the efficacy of pepperspray. After I got home, I felt worse before I felt better. My eyes were okay after I washed up (cold water and Dr. Bronner's soap), but I got a wicked headache and an agrivating pain in my stomach. It just made me angrier than I had been and even after I felt more normal physically (after about 6 hours) the anger didn't go away. In fact it's still with me now, 36 hours later. The flames of it have died down a bit, but the coals are hotter for having been stoked. It was a radicalizing experience, in other words, seeing law enforcement get violent on people, and it's one I won't soon forget. I know I'll see some of these freddies again, and I will not have any trust in them. They are adversaries now, more than they were before, for showing themselves less human than I hoped they would be.
What these officers are doing with their lives is wrong. No matter what else they might be doing, they have bloodied their souls by turning to violence, and that's a stain that will take many good works to remove, more than they'll be able to perform if they stay in those jobs, at least, without getting fired. If they're supporting families, they need to find another way of doing it. Lashing out with pushes and poison on nonviolent people is fundamentally unhealthy. These men are seriously out of touch with a vital part of their own humanity. Such men do not make good fathers or husbands. There's more to those roles than bringing home a check. I worry for their children.
Back at the building we found out that a young man had been arrested, but we didn't know what for. Doesn't really matter what the charge is; they just arrest people when they want to and say whatever they want to say. Either it sticks or doesn't stick or they just let the person go after a little while, but in any instance the charge that is brought usually has nothing to do with anything. It's just the excuse to hassle somebody. This is a sad truth lived out daily for many people of color in this country, and doesn't usually happen to whites unless we're acting out politically. This, too, is a radicalizing experience when you see it.
We were finally given an order to disperse a few minutes after the pepperspray attack. Officers whipped out plastic handcuffs theatrically. Big orange guns appeared. After about five minutes, people decided to move to the upper parking lot where the bus and cars were parked.
Another sickening part of the day was when they came and arrested Lia. Eight or so uniforms with rifles suddenly strode into the middle of the spread out crowd, grabbed her, and took her away. It was fucking scary because it could've been any of us. Again, I don't know the charge, but again, it doesn't matter. What matters is that they can just grab you like that. I think in the future we need to be more careful as a group. If we'd seen them coming perhaps she could have escaped or we could have unarrested her or something. So that's a discussion I'd like to hear because I don't know what a better approach would be.
I'm afraid that not many people understand how bad it's gotten and how much worse it's all likely to get. The assault on civil liberties since Sept. 11, the "Homeland Security" structures, the government-sanctioned xenophobia -- we are living in a country that more and more resembles Germany in the 30's. The corporate media is nothing but a propaganda machine, but almost everyone still believes it, even people on the so-called "Left". The powers that be have been setting it up so they can attack or disappear anyone and no one will peep. The freedom to do just about anything is no longer guaranteed, even if we're still enjoying it now. We're definitely shambling toward fascism, and quickly, too.
Ecorapists like Brent Walker are going after the last old growth trees still alive. People trying to stop him are cast as terrorists and violently attacked. The newspaper parrots the lies of the executioners but many people who say they care still read that newspaper. It's pathetic. Wake up, people! Cancel your subscription to the Oregonian. Don't buy it out of the boxes. Don't read it ever. It's a freaking propaganda tool designed to brainwash you. The negative effects of exposure far outweigh the positives of gleaning a few small facts from it, if there are any there to find. Its insidious nature convinces you that it's okay to keep reading it, but that's one of its intended effects.
Most important, get out to the trees if you can. Go see Solo while it's still there. Bring supplies up to the base camp and hike out to the old growth. Stay a few days if you can. It's incredible to see the beauty and feel the life of those huge beings, even if it's very briefly. There's nothing else like it, and if the violent men have their way, soon there'll be nothing at all.