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Report on the Second Annual “Night of Solidarity” with Jeff “Free” Luers in Eugene

On Sunday, June 12, 2005, approximately 150 people
gathered at Sam Bond's Garage (a local pub/restaurant)
for a "Night of Solidarity with Political Prisoner
Jeff 'Free' Luers." This was the 2nd year of annual
international solidarity actions with Jeff, organized
in opposition to his cruel and ridiculous 22+ year
prison sentence. He has served five years so far for
burning three SUVs in protest of pollution and greed.
The event included several keynote speakers: Peter
Urban of the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of
North America (San Francisco, CA); former eco-defense
political prisoner and singer/songwriter Peg Millet
(Prescott, AZ); and ass-kicking local attorney Lauren
Regan. An awesome musical line-up featured local
bands: The Glenwood Rebel Rovers; Los Mex Pistols Del
Norte; The Happy Bastards; and The Inkwell Rhythm
Makers. "22.8: The Jeff Luers Story," a long-awaited
new documentary by Cascadia Media Collective, was
premiered to an enthusiastic crowd.

The event started with warm greetings by a local
friend & supporter of Jeff. He proceeded to introduce
activist attorney Lauren Regan, who has represented
Jeff against mail censorship by the Oregon Department
of Corrections. Talking about the importance of Jeff's
case in the struggle against attacks on dissent, she
gave a hopeful update about his appeal and legal
developments. Lauren founded the "Civil Liberties
Defense Center" and is representing activists arrested
for protesting the Biscuit timber sale in southern
Oregon. She encouraged the crowd to show support for
those eco-defenders too.

Jeff's parents John & Judy Luers traveled from Los
Angeles to visit their son in Salem and be present for
the event. Commenting on the FBI memo which falsely
stated last years events were a conspiracy by the
Earth Liberation Front, John informed the crowd that
an incredible 25 other events had been organized
around the world during the weekend to show support
for his son. He concluded his brief speech with very
personal and heartfelt thanks to all of Jeff's friends
& supporters, especially those who have been there for
the Luers family since the arrest.

A member of Break The Chains introduced Peter Urban,
co-founder of the IRSCNA and former International
Secretary of the Irish Republican Socialist Party.
Peter identifies as a council communist and authored a
statement in solidarity with Jeff on behalf of the
IRSP last year. He has been a good ally to prisoner
support, anarchist and eco-defense activists in the
Northwest.

Peter argued that members of the Irish Republican Army
and Irish National Liberation Army, finding the system
of law that permitted the British government to
oppress the Irish people intolerable, chose to defy
that law and in fact waged war against that system,
thereby becoming Prisoners of War. He said that
likewise, Jeff encountered a system of law that
permits the destruction of entire species; the
poisoning of the air, water, and land; and the
ravaging of nature could not accept that system of law
and chose to defy it and in fact to wage war against
it. Accordingly, he said, Jeff should be considered a
Prisoner of War, a distinction which he hoped an
American audience could understand the importance of.
Peg Millet, who spoke after Peter devoted part of her
remarks to embracing the distinction Peter had made
and embracing the distinction of being a Prisoner of
War.

Peter emphasized the central role of the prisoners to
Ireland's national liberation struggle. He spoke
passionately about the ten Irish revolutionaries,
seven men from the IRA and three from INLA, who died
hunger striking in a British prison in 1981 during a
protest demanding their recognition as POWs. The most
famous of these men was IRA leader Bobby Sands, a
brilliant poet and the first to die on the hunger
strike. He asked the crowd to think about what
conditions could force a person to starve themselves
to death. The sacrifice of these prisoners had a
tremendous impact on the Irish movement and people all
over the world.

Part of his presentation focused on the "Teach na
Fáilte" or "Welcome Home" organization. Founded by the
IRSP for republican socialist ex-prisoners readjusting
to life after imprisonment, they help them and their
families heal from the trauma of repression and
isolation. The purpose of TNF is not only
rehabilitative, but also serves to help former
prisoners remain politically active. He stressed that
a prisoner's individual struggle doesn't end when they
are released, because a new struggle for healing,
stability, and community often follows. Peter
advocated that the lessons of TNF be examined by all
prisoner activists. Jeff's mother, Judy, embraced
Peter as he left the stage.

Recently, the release of political prisoners within
the Eugene community, including Jeff's co defendant
Craig "Critter" Marshall, poses the question: what
responsibility do we have to our political prisoners,
not only on the inside, but on their journey back to
society?

Local environmentalist Jim Flynn introduced his
"heroine" Peg Millet. In May 1989, Peg and four
comrades were arrested by the FBI in a widely
publicized sting operation. The "Arizona 5" was
accused of conspiracy to sabotage nuclear power
plants, an allegation that was never substantiated.

In 1991, the well publicized two month trial was
interrupted mid-stream with the announcement of a plea
bargain. The charge of sabotage was dropped by federal
prosecutors, as well as charges of vandalism against
Canyon Uranium Mine, near the Grand Canyon, and the
Central Arizona Project. However, Millett was
convicted of "aiding and abetting in the malicious
destruction" of ski lift pylons on the San Francisco
Peaks, in Northern Arizona, a deed she undertook to
protest the desecration of Native American sacred
lands. She was sentenced to three years in prison. She
served without parole and was released in August 1993.

Peg said she was part of a small group of activists
involved in illegal direct action. For a year the FBI
followed the group's movements, even planting an FBI
agent among the activists, who recorded their
conversations. During an action they were greeted by
about 50 FBI agents on foot as well as helicopters,
airplanes and in cars. Millett managed to elude the
FBI that night but returned to work the next morning
and was soon arrested.

This was one of the first FBI COINTELPRO operations
against the radical environmental movement. COINTELPRO
was started in the 60s to disrupt and neutralize
(often violently) dissident organizations, including
the Black Panthers, Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee, the American Indian Movement, and later the
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El
Salvador, to name a few. Peg insists that COINTELPRO
continues (though under new names) and activists must
be careful to avoid its traps.

Peg closed by saying that prisoner support is crucial
to social movements and thanked the organizers for
their ongoing work for Jeff and other political
prisoners. But before leaving the stage she sang
"Forever Wild" at the request of some attendees.

Jeff prepared a statement for the events worldwide and
it was read to the audience here by a local member of
Jeff's defense network. Quoting his statement: "Hello
and thank you for participating in solidarity events
today. As many of you are aware, this June marks my
5th year behind bars. I am nearly a quarter of the way
through my 22 year sentence. In the last year alone,
many of our allies have joined the status of political
prisoners held by the state. With increasing numbers
of our warriors being captured, now more than ever, we
need a united front." The statement goes on to argue
against sectarianism in the human, earth, and animal
liberation movements, emphasizing the need for greater
cooperation and respect for a diversity of tactics and
ideas to confront our common enemies.

Perhaps the climax of the event was the premier of
"22.8: The Jeff Luers Story." CMC's new documentary
outlines the history of Jeff's case, the reasons for
his harsh punishment, and the philosophical motives of
his actions. 22.8 delivers unseen interviews and
footage of Jeff before & after his arrest, and much
more. This is an important film for all concerned
about the fate of the natural world and the plight of
political prisoners. The crowd appeared to love it by
the loud and emotional applause. The rest of the night
was devoted to music & dancing.

Though smaller and less spectacular than last year's
event, we definitely consider it a tremendous success.
A decent profit was made for Jeff's defense fund, and
a good crowd came out to show their support. Support
for Jeff is definitely growing, here and throughout
the world. 18 events for Jeff happened in the US
during the weekend of June 10-12, and eight
internationally. Inspiring reports have come in from
Scotland, Italy, and England. We expect more to come.

Let us hope that next June we won't be protesting
Jeff's incarceration but celebrating his release. But
we must fight for the freedom of all political
prisoners/POWs, not only Jeff. We must oppose
injustice wherever we encounter it. Let us end with a
quote from Malcolm X: "When a person places the proper
value on freedom, there is nothing under the sun that
she will not do to acquire that freedom. Whenever you
hear a person saying he wants freedom, but in the next
breath she is going to tell you what she won't do to
get it, or what he doesn't believe in doing in order
to get it, he doesn't believe in freedom. A person who
believes in freedom will do anything under the sun to
acquire...or preserve his freedom."

Resources:

Teach na Fáilte: www.teachnafailte.org
Irish Republican Socialist Party: www.irsm.org
Break The Chains: www.breakthechains.net
Jeff Luers Support Network: www.freefreenow.org
Cascadia Forest Defenders: www.cascadiarising.org