- - Activist, member of Indymedia-team, found dead in US jail: Officials say: "Suicide"- -
On the 8th of December six activists were arrested across the US in a series of coordinated raids by federal marshals. These arrests are part of a nation-wide crackdown on radical activists in the US under new anti-terror legislation. All activists are now facing life sentences if convicted. Those arrested include a Portland woman accused of taking part in the nation's only act of sabotage on the eve of the 2000 millennium celebration, the toppling of a high-voltage tower near Bend.
At 7a.m. on the 22nd of December, Bill Rodgers, a long-time community activist arrested as part of this nationwide crackdown on radical activists in the US was found dead in his cell. The authorities have called it a suicide.
Activist Commits Suicide (?) in US Jail
25 December 2005
On the 8th of December six activists were arrested across the US in a series of coordinated raids by federal marshals. These arrests are part of a nation-wide crackdown on radical activists in the US under new anti-terror legislation. All five activists are now facing life sentences if convicted. Those arrested include a Portland woman accused of taking part in the nation's only act of sabotage on the eve of the 2000 millennium celebration, the toppling of a high-voltage tower near Bend.The charges are in relation to a string of actions which took place between 1998 and 2001 that were claimed by the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. More information below.
At 7a.m. on the 22nd of December one of the indicted activists was found dead in his cell. The authorities claim it was a suicide. Bill Rodgers, 40, was a long-time community activist from Arizona where he ran the 'Catalyst Infoshop' bookstore out of his home. For more information or to see how you can support Bill's life work see: www.supportbill.org
Statement from the Friends of the Catalyst
We mourn the passing of our dear friend and community member, Bill Rodgers, who worked tirelessly for the causes of social justice and environmental sustainability. We ask that he be remembered as the gentle, kind, and compassionate person we all knew and loved here in Prescott. We remain committed to continuing the work of community building and ecological awareness, through the Catalyst Infoshop, as part of the legacy Bill helped to create. We wish our friend the peace and serenity that he strived so hard to create in this world. This is a great loss for our community. We love you, Bill.
December 22, 2005
These arrests were carried out with the retroactive use of 'the USA Patriot Act'. Although all the actions in question took place before the 11th of September 2001 this new piece of anti-terror legislation was used retroactively to procure search warrants and to allow for searches across the United States. This is a new and dangerous legal precedent being set.
These activists desperately need letters and reading materials to be sent to them. Please write them letters! But don't forget that all letters sent to prisons or jails will be read by the authorities. Please don't say anything about the pending cases or charges. And especially please don't forget that these activists (as far as I know) are pleading NOT GUILTY. Although the actions were claimed by the ELF and the ALF, these particular activists may have had nothing to do with the actions and in some cases insist that they have no affiliation or involvement in the ELF and ALF. They are well-known activists in the US and are possibly being framed so as to ensure that they will spend the rest of their days in prison.
(There is no address for the sixth 'activist' because he is now cooperating with the US authorities.)
For more information about what and how to write to prisoners see:
Lane County Jail
101 West 5th Street
Eugene, OR 97401
PO Box 6000
Sheridan, OR 97378
Daniel is being shifted between these facilities unpredictably. Please make two copies of each letter you write and send them to both addresses. See also info below on writing to Lane County Jail.
Lane County Jail
101 W 5th Ave
Eugene, OR 97401
Lane County Jail
101 W 5th Ave
Eugene, OR 97401
Lane Country Jail will not accept letters written on colour paper. Nor will they accept letters which have been corrected with liquid correction fluid (what in Britain is known as "Tipex" and what in America is called "whiteout"). The authorities are also rejecting letters if they come in an envelope over a quarter of an inch thick (thats approximately 6mm in metric). Basically they are using any excuse what so ever to reject mail. So please, when your writing please write on white paper with a black pen. Or if you print your letters on a computer, print your letter with black ink again onto white sheets of paper.
Coconino County Jail
951 E Sawmill Rd
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Agents link suspects in Oregon and elsewhere to a three-year string of crimes
Friday, December 09, 2005
and MARK LARABEE
The government Thursday announced the most extensive bust of eco-saboteurs in U.S. history, charging seven people with a series of arsons and vandalism that plagued the Pacific Northwest for nearly three years.
Those arrested include a Portland woman accused of taking part in the nation's only act of sabotage on the eve of the 2000 millennium celebration, the toppling of a high-voltage tower near Bend.
Federal agents took six men and women into custody from Oregon to New York on Wednesday, tying them to nearly $5 million in arson and vandalism damage from 1998 to 2001.
The crimes turned Oregon at that time into the epicenter of an underground assault on timber companies, research scientists and meat processors. Federal agents say the saboteurs, operating in small units called cells, have burned, vandalized and sometimes bombed enterprises that they accuse of profiting from the destruction of the planet and its living creatures.
Members of the Oregon FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force worked the cases for the better part of nine years, though they developed suspects early in the investigation.
Members of the task force told The Oregonian in July 2001 that they had tied five Northwest arsons -- including two connected to Wednesday's arrests -- to "signature" firebombs made of cheap digital timers and large containers of fuel. The task force then reported that it was closing in on at least three suspects and several compatriots. But no arrests were made until Wednesday.
The government declined to comment Thursday about why arrests were so long in coming. However, a federal prosecutor in Portland, Kent Robinson, noted that Wednesday's coast-to-coast roundup was coordinated to avoid suspects fleeing after learning of other arrests.
"These indictments prove that we're going to pursue these arsons until we solve them," said Robinson, who leads the criminal division for Oregon U.S. Attorney Karen J. Immergut. "And we're still investigating."
Authorities arrested Chelsea D. Gerlach, 28, Wednesday in Portland. Also arrested, according to prosecutors, was Kevin M. Tubbs, 36, in Springfield; Stanislas G. Meyerhoff, 28, in Charlottesville, Va., where he attended Piedmont Community College; and Sarah K. Harvey, 28, in Flagstaff, where she was a student at Northern Arizona University. The government also arrested Daniel G. McGowan, 31, of New York, and William C. Rodgers, 40, of Prescott, Ariz.
Robinson acknowledged that federal authorities employed a provision of the USA Patriot Act to close in on the alleged saboteurs. The law allowed them to obtain search warrants from U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Coffin in Eugene and search in other states for evidence.
According to the indictments, the accused saboteurs first struck on June 21, 1998, with simultaneous fires at two U.S. Department of Agriculture research facilities in the Olympia area. The Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front, groups that the FBI later described as America's greatest domestic terrorist threat, claimed responsibility for the fires:
"The arrogant humans who make money by killing and destroying nature would have the public believe that beaver, deer and other wildlife are responsible for the decimation of our public lands -- not clearcutting!"
Tubbs and Rodgers were charged with setting fire to one of the USDA buildings.
The next arson came two days after Christmas in 1998, when U.S. Forest Industries in Medford was firebombed, causing at least $500,000 in damage. ELF claimed responsibility. The government has charged Harvey with arson in that case.
Saboteurs struck again on Mother's Day 1999 in Eugene, when Childers Meat Co. went up in flames. A criminal complaint filed Thursday accuses Gerlach, who went by the name "Country Girl," of serving as a lookout in that arson.
The indictment quotes a confidential source as saying that Gerlach used a handheld radio to communicate with fellow saboteurs. The source told an FBI agent, John Ferreira, that the informant was a participant in the conspiracy to commit the arson.
"The source said these persons used (four) five-gallon plastic containers and each triggered by a mechanical timing device," according to the complaint. "One incendiary device was set near the front door in a porch area and the other incendiary device was set next to a natural gas main."
The Animal Liberation Front later claimed responsibility for the Childers fire, which caused $1.2 million in damage, according to the government.
On Dec. 30, 1999, an electrical transmission tower owned by the Bonneville Power Administration was toppled about 25 miles southeast of Bend. No group took responsibility.
Gerlach and Meyerhoff, along with another woman, Josephine Sunshine Overaker, were indicted on charges of conspiring to destroy the tower. Overaker has not been arrested. Gerlach pleaded not guilty Thursday to the tower charges, which were filed in December 2004.
The Earth Liberation Front would later claim responsibility for setting fire to Superior Lumber Co. of Glendale on Jan. 2, 2001. A note passed to news media from the anonymous saboteurs declared, "This year, 2001, we hope to see an escalation in tactics against capitalism and industry."
Meyerhoff and McGowan were both charged with the Superior Lumber arson and one other blaze, also believed to be the work of the ELF, near Clatskanie. The two face life imprisonment if convicted of using destructive devices to perform both arsons.
"These are not misguided college students who are performing a protest in front of the student union," said Steve Swanson, president of the Swanson Group, formerly Superior Lumber Co. "These are serious crimes. Frankly, they're just criminals and they need to be treated as such."
Meyerhoff and McGowan also were charged with taking part in at least one of two simultaneous arsons on May 21, 2001, the torchings of Clatskanie's Jefferson Poplar Farm and Seattle's University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. The blazes marked the first time that eco-saboteurs had committed simultaneous fires in two states.
At a hearing in federal court in Portland on Thursday, Pat Ehlers, the public defender representing Gerlach, fought for his client's release. But Robinson successfully argued that Gerlach should remain in custody.
"We believe she is involved in other arsons and is a member of a loosely affiliated group responsible for a string of arsons," he said.
©2005 The Oregonian
Dec 9, 2005
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Federal marshals arrested six environmental activists in a series of coordinated raids in four states yesterday, Dec. 8, in apparent response to a string of arsons in Oregon and Washington attributed to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), including simultaneous attacks in 2001 at the University of Washington's Urban Horticulture Center and the Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie, Oregon.
Daniel McGowan, 31, was arrested in New York City while working at WomensLaw.org, an advocacy organization that provides legal information for victims of domestic violence. He was held overnight, and brought before a judge in the Brooklyn Federal Court to determine whether he would be released on bail pending his arraignment and trial in Eugene, Oregon. The hearing is currently adjourned until Friday, Dec. 9 at 2 pm, while the judge will review a surveillance recording that an arresting detective alleges demonstrates McGowan is a flight risk.
-- -- -- --
McGowan is better known to the New York media as Jamie Moran, a pen name he used to protect his private life while acting as a rowdy spokesperson for anti-Bush protesters in the lead-up to the 2004 Republican National Convention (RNC). Several stories were written about his good-humored activism in Rolling Stone and the New York Times, as well as The Indypendent. "Jamie," as many New York activists came to know McGowan, was always ready to encourage others to stand up for what they thought was right.
Outspoken with his anti-authoritarian politics, McGowan challenged NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and the Daily News rumor machine on their claims of a violent "anarchist menace" that was supposed to rain chaos on the city. McGowan's good humor and total rejection of the institutions of government were plain-stated and heartfelt.
Despite all the pre-RNC fear-mongering, the main anarchist contributions to the historic anti-Bush protests were a bike ride, housing out-of-town activists and a day of entirely non-violent protests with 1,800 arrests. Almost all the charges were eventually dismissed as baseless and a civil suit against the city is still pending, but police repression throughout the convention was justified by the blanket of fear that they themselves had spread.
Fast forward to today...
McGowan is under a 16-count indictment related to his alleged involvement in the 2001 Poplar Farms arson, and a separate incident earlier in the same year at the offices of a lumber company. Federal prosecutors are further alleging that he is a member of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a decentralized direct-action movement responsible for over $100 million in damages to urban "sprawl" developments and SUV dealerships. The ELF has made the top of the FBI's list of domestic threats.
McGowan faces mandatory minimum sentences of 30 years each on two major charges, which, if pressed to trial, threaten a life sentence. Stanislas Meyerhoff, 28, was also charged in the tree farm fire and is being held in Virginia. According to the Dept. of Justice, he also faces life in prison. Additional arrests and raids happened in Prescott, Arizona and Springfield Oregon in related cases.
McGowan and Meyerhoff are facing the most severe sentences for non-violent sabotage in United States history.
McGowan totally denies any involvement with arson, and denies membership in the ELF. This reporter has no information about Meyerhoff beyond what has appeared in the media and on the Department of Justice's website.
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