portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary global

forest defense | human & civil rights | prisons & prisoners

Jeff 'Free' Luer's letter to the Sun magazine

Jeff 'Free' Luers is an anarchist and political prisoner serving a 22.5 year long sentence for the burning of 3 SUVs in Oregon. You can read more about him on his site www.freefreenow.org You can sign up to his list serve here
Free with friends
Free with friends
Free in Fall Creek treesit , April 1998
Free in Fall Creek treesit , April 1998
drawing by Free, 2003
drawing by Free, 2003
Free imprisoned-2002
Free imprisoned-2002
Letter to The Sun magazine
December 2003

When i was ninteen, I thought I could save the planet. Raised on anarchist punk rock, I set out to fight injustice and make the world a better place.

In a national forest near Eugene, Oregon, I climbed to a plywood tree stand two hundred feet up an ancient Douglas fir. (Julia Butterfly Hill had already been sitting in a redwood for more than four months.) For forty-five days I called the tree stand home. When I came down, another took my place.

The forest action grew, and I took many more turns up in the trees. I did my fair share of blocking bulldozers, and even had the opportunity to meet with some congresspeople.

After two years of struggle, though, I was fed up and frustrated with the system. I'd witnessed countless cases of police brutality, lying officials, and broken hearts as more and more forests were destroyed. I decided it was time for underground action.

A friend and I planned to set fire to three SUVs in a protest designed to raise awareness about global warming. We succeeded in our mission, and no one was hurt. That was three years ago. I've been in prison ever since. I'm doing twenty-two years for my idealism.

I've had a lot of time to think about the choices I made, and I'm proud of them. Maybe I didn't change the world, but from the letters I get, I know I helped open some people's eyes. We managed to save that old-growth forest, too.

Jeffrey Luers
Salem, Oregon

homepage: homepage: http://www.freefreenow.org
address: address: POB 3, Eugene, OR 97440

No, Jeff . . . . 15.Dec.2003 13:20

O.T.

You aren't doing time for your "idealism" . . . .you are doing time for your arson.

Wrong, Officer TinEar! 15.Dec.2003 13:33

me

What is the average arson sentence? Along the order of 7 years or so?

22 years for Mr. Luers? Yes, he is serving time for his idealism.

2nd Degree murder could get less time, so could arson for hiire 15.Dec.2003 14:02

Luke from DC

In fact, Free got a longer sentence than would by typical(not maximum) for second degree murder! Similarily, if a Mafioso burned an occupied apartment building for money and nobody died, he would do less time. If his lawyer was good enough, he could "accidently" kill a child in that apartment fire and either get less time or not be convicted at all!

Free was both convicted and sentenced for his beliefs. If he had burned that SUV in a "nasty neighbor" dispute over a parking space, he would have been sentenced to a year at most and served only a couple months. Probably, that would have been plea bargained down to almost nothing, in fact...

fuzzy math 15.Dec.2003 14:03

gigli

3 x 7 = 21. It was three SUV's right?

Fuzzy Facts 15.Dec.2003 14:55

suv-human scum

It was only one truck destroyed by Free and Critter's handiwork. The two trucks next to it were damaged, then repaired and sold. It was the copycats who burned multiple SUVs at the same truck-lot.
Arson is a crime against people and gets you a 7.5 year mandatory minimum sentence. Vandalism is a crime against property that doesn't threaten people, and it is not prosecuted as a violent crime.
Free got more than 7.5 years because he was also convicted of attempted arson at the Tyree oil company. The jugs of gasoline that did not ignite had a finger print on them, but it wasn't Free's.
The evidence that Free and Critter went to the truck lot the night of the fire there is pretty compelling, and they both have admitted to it. There is little to no evidence linking them to Tyree Oil, which is why the prosecution dropped those charges against Critter. Free's sentencing was biased by the copycat fire which happened just one week before he was sent to trial.