Daniel McGowan is a 32-year-old acupuncture student born and raised in New York City who has dedicated his entire adult life to environmental and social justice activism. Over the past ten years he has worked tirelessly on many environmental campaigns. He campaigned against the use of rainforest wood by local governments and worked on media relations for the Wetlands Activism Center. While living on the west coast, Daniel helped with the protection of the Headwaters forest in Northern California, did outreach and educated others about genetically engineered food and volunteered with the Cascadia Forest Defenders.
In addition to all his environmental efforts, Daniel has worked a great deal on social justice and human rights issues. After returning to New York in 2002, Daniel collaborated with friends to set up the RNCNotWelcome.org website, organized demonstrations against the Republican National Convention and participated in many national and international press interviews. He has provided active support for indigenous people including the Dineh, the Ogoni and the U'wa people, all the while actively supporting political prisoners all over the world. More recently, Daniel had been working on counter-recruitment campaigns to offer alternatives to youth being recruited for the war on Iraq & Afghanistan. Daniel has also been involved in bike activism helping to set up film nights for the local bike group, Time's Up. At the time of arrest he was working for WomensLaw.org, a nonprofit that provides legal information to women living with or escaping domestic violence and setting up local "really really free markets" which celebrated sharing and community relations in his neighborhood.
Daniel is being charged in connection with two arsons that took place in Oregon in 2001 claimed by the Earth Liberation Front. No one was injured as a result of these alleged acts. He is pleading not guilty but he is facing a potential sentence of life plus 335 years in prison if convicted on all charges. The statute of limitations for the more serious of these charges was set to expire just three weeks after Daniel's arrest, which suggests that there was a rush to make arrests. Cooperating witnesses in Daniel's case have received recommended sentences of 37 months (around 3 years) to 15 years for guilty pleas to ten or more arsons.
Daniel McGowan's arrest is part of a nation wide attack on environmental and social justice activists; it is one small part of the current "Green Scare" that is sweeping the nation. Like the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, made famous by the McCarthy hearings and the "House of Un-American Affairs", today we are witnessing a systematic criminalization of political dissent. Although Daniel has not been indicted on any terrorism charges, the FBI and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have repeatedly described Daniel and his co-defendants as "eco-terrorists". The media has also been using the language of terrorism in attempt to create an emotional and sensationalist effect. The prosecution has stated it will argue for the federal terrorism enhancement in the case of Daniel's cooperating co-defendants who have pled guilty. It is very unlikely that anyone branded as a "terrorist" by the US Government and the media will be able to receive a fair trial.
We feel that it would be an injustice and a massive loss to the local activist community for Daniel McGowan to spend the rest of his life in prison. His only mistake was being a public and visible advocate for environmental and social justice. We believe that if this case goes to trial it will be impossible for Daniel McGowan to receive a fair trial under the current political climate. We will support Daniel McGowan and ask for a dismissal of this case on the grounds that it would lead to a dangerous precedent resulting in less freedom for all of us.
This is a statement that was written by supporters of Daniel McGowan. The goal of the statement is to draw attention to and positively affect the case of Daniel McGowan so that he will not spend the rest of his life in federal prison.
If you are willing to publicly endorse this statement, please email email@example.com with:
1. Your name
2. Your organizational affiliation (if any)
3. Your city, state (if applicable) and country
4. How you found out about Daniel's case
5. Please also make it clear to us that you are signing on to the support statement.