Jeff "Free" Luers Prison Dispatch, March 2006
Earlier this month, the Earth Liberation Front struck in Salem, Oregon. I doubt many people outside of Oregon heard about this action. However, in Oregon it was a hot news topic for days.
What kind of daring action could garner such media attention? The words "Stop building ant farms, ELF" spray-painted on a new housing development.
The first headlines were "Eco-terrorists strike again". Then the speculations came. Was this an act of hardened terrorists or was it a prank? The debate went on. The police didn't know. The media could only guess.
The only thing that remained concrete was those three red letters: E-L-F. The difference came in how it was discussed. The media said "the police are unsure whether this is the work of teenage vandals or seasoned terrorists. If it was vandals they will be charged with criminal mischief. However, if it turns out the graffiti was actually done by terrorists they will be charged with federal anti-terrorist laws."
The "crime" remains the same but if it was committed for political reasons the punishment is much worse.
Recently, 3 college students were arrested in Alabama for the arson of half a dozen churches, for more than a week. The fires made national headlines. In some places burning a church is chargeable as a hate crime.
The three stated it was a prank that got out of control and all three were released on $50,000 bail.
Daniel McGowan, on the other hand, who was charged in two ELF related arsons, was only released after posting $1.6 million bail.
This is what a police state looks like, when laws are passed punishing protest more severely than social crime; when a person can be labeled a terrorist instead of a dissident; when the media uses the same language as the rulers without question; when allegiance to ones country means subservience to its rulers.
I am a warrior. I have never denied what or who I am. I have engaged in actions contrary to the laws of the United States. However, before I ever participated in illegal actions I employed every legal method available to invoke change.
I have met with business leaders, mayors, and members of congress. I have had these people lie right in my face or tell me they were powerless to do anything. I have seen corporate interests trump public interests time and time again with government support.
When people have no say in how they are ruled or what actions are taken on their behalf, they are not free. It is not freedom to choose your rulers if the method of rule remains the same. It is not freedom when your community lives in poverty, polluted by toxic and chemical waste and subject to abject police brutality, while your leaders and bosses live like royalty. It is not freedom when social order is maintained through fear and manipulation.
In the face of such truths it becomes the duty of all able bodied men & women to resist. It may be illegal but it is not wrong to fight injustice. It is not wrong to challenge corporate arrogance. It is not wrong to resort to force when diplomacy fails.
For years I and other earth liberation prisoners have received your support. There have been letter-writing campaigns, fundraisers, protests, direct actions and international days of solidarity. I am honored and thankful for your love and support.
Each of us know and believe our struggle is a legitimate one. We have a right to clean air, water, and land. We have a right to rein in corporate and government practices furthering climate change. We have a right to resist oppression.
However, if we are to succeed our struggle must be recognized as being legitimate in the eyes of the world. Our resistance must be recognized as necessary.
One of the first steps in accomplishing that is by demanding recognition of political status for our prisoners. All incarcerated and accused members of the Earth Liberation Front and other earth liberation prisoners are political prisoners. Our actions that brought us to prison are political in nature. Our trials are about our politics. Our sentences are increased because of our political motives.
We need you to help us demand political status; by writing and calling politicians, newspapers, and other media and demanding recognition; by reaching beyond our borders to international organizations like Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, as well as the United Nations and other governments.
The state says people like me are terrorists. They use the label to instill fear and justify their repression. Only you can change that.
Jeffrey "Free" Luers
Oregon State Prison
2605 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97310
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