New dispatch and update on Jeffrey Free Luers
Jeff has written a new dispatch which, among other things, discusses the status of his appeal and his post-prison possibilities. Please read below and share with others.
June 28, 2007 Prison Dispatch from Jeffrey Free Luers
Over the years, these dispatches have become like a journal for me. They have chronicled my life behind bars at times becoming a sanctuary, an outlet, or sometimes just a place for me to put my hope.
When I was arrested in 2000, I was resigned to doing time. In fact, the moment I decided to act I knew there was a good chance I would someday end up with a long prison sentence. Being a warrior means accepting the consequences of your actions long before you act.
Yet, throughout the first year of legal battles, I held hope that I might actually get out within just a few years. That hope was shattered the day I was convicted.
That night, secluded in the jail's shower, I wept. I cried for my loss. My sobs lasted no more than a few brief moments. When I came out of the shower and back into the day room I was completely composed. Those few moments are all I've ever allowed myself to grieve over the loss of my freedom.
From the day of my sentencing I accepted that I had two decades to spend in a maximum-security prison. That has been hard. It has ruined relationships with friends and family. I have lost loved ones. I said more goodbyes my first three years in prison than in all my years on earth.
Still, I remained determined to walk my path as a warrior and not as a prisoner. I have never bowed my head or ceased contributing to this struggle that I gave my freedom for.
There has been times when I have felt contempt and anger at our movement for it's lack of action and achievement. There have been times I was inspired and moved beyond imagination.
However I was feeling, I remained committed to this struggle; it's movement and our allies. That commitment has been met in kind by an unwavering international campaign of support. For that I will always be grateful.
On June 13th the Oregon Court of Appeals rewrote their decision in my appeal to more accurately reflect the case. An action that I had petitioned, the stage is now set for my resentencing later this year.
While it remains uncertain what my new sentence will be, for the first time in seven years I feel as if I'm living with one foot out of the door. I no longer look to some far off day in 2021 as my release date. I am almost home.
I have given my entire adult life to activism. I've never really known anything else. I dropped out of college to devote 40+ hours a week working for the Sierra Club. I left the Sierra Club to get involved in grassroots activism. I found myself moving to Eugene following a path I believed would lead me to my destiny. I became involved in civil disobedience and militant activism, ultimately living in an old-growth tree to protect an ancient forest. It was in that tree that I decided to dedicate my life to revolution.
I've never looked back and I've never wavered in my determination to fight back.
Until now, that is.
I have lived a truly amazing life, made many amazing friends and I have worked with some of the greatest and most inspiring people in this country. I have no regrets about the choices I have made. None.
The time has come for me to direct my energy towards my own life. I have no idea what I'm going to do when I get out. In many ways regaining my freedom is scarier than doing time. I've only known two lives: resistance and prison.
At this time I do not know what role I will continue to play in this movement. I am aware of how important and far-reaching my voice has become. I hope to be able to find a balance between living a joy filled life and continuing to be a vocal advocate for change. But I'm tired of living a life of constant struggle. I don't want to fight anymore.
In some sense I feel like we have won many important battles only to ultimately, and sadly, lose the war. I see a movement that continues to bang its head against the wall demanding change, when what is needed is to find a way over the wall.
There was a time when I was prepared to give my life for this struggle, demanding official recognition of my status as a political prisoner. After numerous conversations with my support collective and careful consideration I began to lay the foundation for a hunger strike. A timeline was established and I discretely began notifying my loved ones of my intent.
A few months later began the mass arrests of Operation Backfire. One traitor nearly brought down an entire movement without any repercussions or response. If that kind of cowardly act cannot induce a reaction, than what purpose or good could be served by my own personal sacrifice? I abandoned the idea of a hunger strike.
In fact, since the cooperation with the state by more than half of the Backfire defendants, I have been reevaluating my commitment to this radical movement.
I realize now that despite the rhetoric spewed by our many publications and the bold statements of activists themselves, that the struggle to protect our planet, its ecosystems, species, and ultimately ourselves from capitalism, climate change, and environmental collapse is largely one of privilege and symbolism.
I make this statement not as a condemnation, but a fact. As a radical movement we have failed. There is no shame in admitting it only denying it.
What is worse, however, is that as a society we have failed. We have failed ourselves as well as future generations. We are now locked into a climate shift that will result in the extinction of nearly one third of all species. That number, along with other dire consequences, will grow exponentially worse the longer it takes us to act.
Our future frightens me. I believe that immediate and radical change is our best hope. Yet, I have no faith that those actions will be taken. Instead, I must now place my hope in reform because it seems that is the only realistic option.
For the last seven years I have stood on principle refusing to back down from my militant stance. And even though this movement abandoned militancy years ago, the truth of the matter is we are right whether we'll fight for it or now.
But that's just it. We won't fight for it, and I don't want to stand alone on principle anymore. I don't want to continue to face the consequences of those actions.
We tried to correct the wrongs of the generations before us. We strived to create new direction.
It's too late to stop climate change or its worldwide impacts. But it's not too late to begin mitigating those impacts and creating solutions.
I want to go back to school. I want to learn how to restore damaged ecosystems. I want to learn how to make our communities sustainable and learn how to survive and cope with the environmental changes to come. I would love to share these skills with our children and their children and apologize to them for our inability to see what was happening and our failure to take action to correct it.
This struggle is part of me. Yet, more and more I see my role not as one of fighting or even inspiring others to fight. Rather I see my path as one of healing. Not only healing myself, but my relationships with family and loved ones and searching to find constructive ways to help heal some of the wounds of our planet.
I am sure, in the future, as climate change worsens and begins to have discernable socioeconomic impacts we will again see an upsurge in radical activism and resistance. When that time comes I will stand in solidarity and full support of those warriors because I will understand the deep love within their hearts that compels them to act.
One day our chance to create real and meaningful change will come. The question is: will we recognize that opportunity or will we continue to be stuck in a cycle of symbolic struggle every few decades?
The answer to that question rests with you and the choices you make.
-Jeffrey "Free" Luers
Write to: Jeff Luers, #13797671, Oregon State Prison, 2605 State Street, Salem, Oregon 97310
address: Free's Defense Network; Po Box 3; Eugene, OR 97440
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