Yesterday marked the 5th year of Eric's arrest and imprisonment. Every year, at this time, we are forced to reflect on all that has happened. It is never an easy process, but this year feels different. This year we know that Eric will be in prison for the duration of his sentence. All of his appeals have been exhausted. 5 years is a long time - but we aren't even halfway there...
Perhaps one other thing is striking about this 5 year milestone. Both of Eric's former co-defendants plead guilty to a lesser included offense. In doing so, the maximum amount of time they could possibly have gotten in prison was 5 years. Had the jury in Eric's trial been allowed to find Eric guilty of the same charge that Zach and Lauren plead guilty to (and more than one juror indicated that they would have...), Eric would now be free. But the judge in Eric's trial, Judge Morrison England, refused to allow this as an option for the jury.
Since Eric's arrest, the FBI has continued its war against activists and any other groups that they perceive as a threat. Indeed, it seems as if hardly a week goes by without some new story of FBI shenanigans.
Entrapment - rather than being perceived as a legal no-no - seems to be their favorite tactic. This is not surprising. We knew all along (with that horrible, sick, sinking feeling in our guts) that Eric's case would be used as a test. This was the FBI at their most outrageous (well, almost...). The FBI spent a year and half creating a crime, entrapping three people in it, charging them with thought crime, and then sent the only one who stood up for himself to prison for nearly 20 years. They certainly are busy bees...
And their scheme worked. Now it seems they are using Eric's case as a model of how things should be done. If you need proof, don't take our word for it, check out:
http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2008/june/ecoterror_063008 (just keep in mind, we have no idea what kind of "cookies" or other such creepy crawlies might be triggered by visiting this site...)
We have watched in horror these last few years as more and more of these kinds of cases have appeared across the country. The state has been emboldened by their "success." But their success is nothing more than the attempted destruction of countless lives and futures.
It is hard not to think of this as a time of mourning. So much has been stolen from us - from all of us - these past 5 years. But we have also learned a lot. We have learned (and continue to learn) more about how the state works. About how we can better protect ourselves and the people, places and creatures we love. We have learned how to make miles seem irrelevant. We have learned how to walk through walls and bend the bars. Perhaps most importantly, we have learned just how much strength and courage we can find in each other.
So maybe instead of a day of mourning, today can be a day of defiance. Of remembering all that we have lost - and figuring out how to get it back. Or how to keep it from happening again...
Today can be a celebration of thought crime.
Won't you celebrate with us?
Please remember that other folks are sitting in prison for very similar reasons as Eric! They deserve your support.
Marie Mason and Sadie (Joyanna Zacher) both have birthdays this month. Please consider sending them a note of support.
Marie Mason: link to supportmariemason.org
Sadie can be written at:
Joyanna Zacher #36360-086
Federal Correctional Institution
5701 8th St - Camp Parks- Unit E
Dublin, CA 94568
Jonathan Paul also has a birthday this month - but he was recently released to a halfway house and will soon begin the difficult transition back to a life outside of prison. Please keep him in your thoughts as well, and keep your eyes peeled for ways to offer him your support in the future.
Finally, we recently set up a wishlist on Microcosm for Eric. If you would like to send him something, please visit:
If you order something from this list, please contact us and let us know what you have ordered so we can be sure it is removed from the list. If you would like other suggestions about books to send Eric, please contact us.
For information on other ways to support Eric, please visit his website: www.supporteric.org