Here's an excellent synopsis of the story behind the arrest of the . . . what . . . ELF six, now ELF five, with the tragic death of Mr. William C. Rogers, who committed suicide rather than going to trial and using the trial as a podium proclaiming his undying commitment to his cause . . .
The story actually ranges beyond those unhappy souls, and reintroduces our old friend Tre Arrow, formerly Michael Scarpitti (Mr. Scarpitti changed his name to Mr. Arrow when he took the advice offered him by some trees he was conversing with).
EUGENE, Ore. – From 1998 to early 2001, federal investigators seemed powerless to stop the fires that were set with gasoline-filled five-gallon plastic buckets and followed with calling cards from the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front.
Two lumber mill offices in southern Oregon. Plant and wildlife research labs in Seattle and Olympia, Wash. A University of Washington horticulture facility. Corrals for wild horses in Oregon, Wyoming and California. A ski resort in the Colorado Rockies. A tree farm outside Portland. Three dozen sport utility vehicles in Eugene. Trucks at a gravel pit and a logging company in Oregon.
Investigators were tightlipped about what they found, but apparently had little to work with but the wire handles and melted remains of the white plastic buckets – the kind used for everything from pie filling to paint – and a few intact buckets filled with gasoline that failed to ignite.
Then, after Muslim terrorists struck New York and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001, the fires set by extremists in the Northwest stopped. Other attacks continued elsewhere around the country, but the Northwest – the scene of intense battles over logging in national forests since 1983 – was no longer targeted.
In 2002, investigators got a break when one of the people involved in firebombing a logging company and a gravel pit in 2001 told his girlfriend, and she told her dad, a state fire marshal. Three people were convicted, and the alleged leader, Michael "Tre Arrow" Scarpitti, is being held in Victoria, British Columbia, on a shoplifting charge, fighting extradition.
Mr. Arrow is suspected of having a connection with the terrorist Earth Liberation Front.
But more interesting is this: Mr. Arrow was once busted with Jason Baker of PeTA, and required to pay $130 fine. Here's what a 1998 AP story had to say (apparently available only through LexisNexis, unfortunately):
Two animal rights activists were arrested outside the home of Procter & Gamble's chief executive officer for protesting the company's use of animals in test products.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals distributed door-hangers Wednesday around CEO John Pepper's home in this upscale Cincinnati suburb. The door-hangers feature Pepper's face superimposed over Mr. Clean's on a bottle of the household cleaner. The label also contained the phrases, "John Pepper, clean up your act," and "Animal tests stink."
Jason Baker, a PETA spokesman, said his group thought it was important to get a message out to Pepper's neighbors.
"We want them to know that the company that he runs is needlessly killing animals and causing them to suffer," Baker said.
Baker said he and another PETA member tried to leave a door-hanger at Pepper's home, but they were escorted off the property by security guards.
Baker and Michael Scarpitti, 24, of Cincinnati, were cited by Wyoming police for distributing literature on private property without a permit. Police Chief Tim World said the men were each fined $ 130.
Baker said he and Scarpitti paid the fines, but they are considering taking legal action against the city.
[ . . .]
Mr. Baker evidently remains a prominent PeTA functionary, and seems to have moved up in the heirarchy: he's presently PeTA's campaign co-ordinator for Asia.
So here's another dot, to go with many others, that together justify the feds surveilling PeTA .
Or, to put it another way, if all these dots don't demand that PeTA be investigated and surveilled, which dots would?
Back to the ELF 5:
It would be three more years before authorities moved, arresting six people on Dec. 7 in Oregon, Arizona, Virginia and New York on charges from six fires and a toppled electric transmission tower in Oregon and Washington. One of them – Prescott, Ariz., bookstore owner William C. Rodgers – committed suicide in jail, and another, Virginia college student Stanislas Meyerhoff, has agreed to testify for the prosecution, according to court papers.
Mr. Rogers' suicide is certainly a tragedy, and I mean that from the heart.
But the unhappy truth, one even his strongest supporters must face, is this: when facing 20 years in the slammer, Mr. Rogers chose to enter the spiritual world by his own hand rather than use the bully pulpit of the witness stand to reassert his allegiance to his radical cause — the cause that he had (evidently erroneously) once thought was his raison d'être.
His supporters can proclaim him a hero and a martyr if they wish, but the sad fact is that he failed them and their cause when the going got tough — the simple truth is that he changed his mind about the worthiness of his cause.
Agents relied on tenacious pursuit over years to break the case.
"We focused on a couple of cases," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdall. "We developed persons of interest and went from there."
In the course of court hearings, Engdall has noted the help of at least three informants who took part in firebombings themselves.
As information has dribbled out from court hearings, affidavits, and relatives of the accused, a picture has emerged of a small band of rag-tag activists from Eugene, home to many of the demonstrators involved in the 1999 World Trade Organization riots in Seattle.
According to an FBI affidavit, on one trip to Washington to torch a lab looking for ways to keep deer from eating tree seedlings, one of the three was arrested shoplifting some of the gear to start the fires. To make things worse, their old van broke down, forcing them to hitchhike home.
Rag-tag they may well be, but they were effective, and they knew full that well what the were doing was illegal.
And check out the target . . . a facility that was trying to find a way to protect young trees from the depredations of deer. Heh . . .
Though a spokesman for ELF had described the group as immune to infiltration, federal agents found an informant in late 2004, who showed them how one of the fires was set, and wore a hidden microphone while talking to old pals about past exploits.
I think the fact that the feds managed to infiltrate the ELF so effectively will chill those who committed similar acts, and will block their ardor for further vandalistic adventure . . . at least for awhile.
If I were a former ELF perp, I'd be living with a heap o' anxiety right now . . .
The assumption that ELF cells are impenetrable is no longer tenable. Anyone can turn out to be a spy.
When they were arrested earlier this month, the six had taken up new lives.
Yes . . . and that is a part of the tragedy. They'd evidently hoped to put their allegedly violent past behind them, each wanting to move on and live a fairly normal life, working, going to school, protesting legally (one presumes) when and where whim dictated, selling leftist books . . ..
And all that spoiled . . . so many futures in dire jeopardy . . .
Chelsea Gerlach, 28, nicknamed "Country Girl," was a DJ in Portland, living with convicted Canadian animal rights activist Darren Thurston. Meyerhoff, 28, who went to high school with Gerlach, was attending Piedmont Community College in Charlottesville, Va.
A third, Kevin Tubbs, 36, nicknamed "Dog," was living in Springfield, Ore. Daniel McGowan, 31, was working for a women's advocacy law firm in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mr. Thurston is awaiting deportation to Canada, having been caught with a false green card. As I've written before, he just doesn't seem to be a very nice person . . .
But he — along with Mr. Tubbs and Ms Gerlach, continue to enjoy the support of the ELP (Earth Liberation Prisoner's Support Network).
The buzz around the AR corner of the net regarding Mr. McGowan is very interesting.
His support committee is trying to distance him from both ELF and ALF, and seeks to present him as an individual who's only interested in social justice and who is unaffiliated with any terrorist group.
Accordingly, and at the request of his family and friends, the ELP is no longer actively soliciting support for him, though they (ELP) are (passively) leaving an address on their page by which supporters can send him supportive things.
Clearly, Mr. McGowan, aka Jamie Moran, doesn't want to be tainted by ELP support.
Can't blame him, really . . . and I think his refusal of ELP's support, however desperate the gesture is, however fruitless it will prove to be, makes more sense than Tubbs and Gerlach accepting it.
Rodgers, 40, lived in the back of his Catalyst Infoshop. He committed suicide in jail in Flagstaff, Ariz., shortly before he was to be transported to Seattle to face charges he and Tubbs torched a federal research lab. Prosecutors characterized him as the mastermind of the Vail ski resort arson, though he was not charged.
Well, if he really was the mastermind of the Vail arson and feared standing trial for that act, you can well imagine the pressure he'd be under. Still — he did miss an opportunity to proselytize . . .
Sarah Kendall Harvey, 28, was an administrative assistant and graduate student at Northern Arizona University and had applied to medical school. She had taken part in logging protests in Oregon, once cooking pancakes for the loggers.
The ELP helpfully informs us that Ms Harvey doesn't yet have a support committee, but will post information about one if and when it forms . . . having the ELP standing in the wings offering support must delight her, her family and friends. Talk about a waste . . . graduate school, someone she'd evidently fallen in love with, the possibility of medical school . . .
Needless to say: "ELP is also sad to report that we have removed Stanislas "Jack" Meyerhoff details from our prisoner list. As has been widely reported in the media, one of the defence lawyers fighting this case has publicly named Meyerhoff as a police informant."
This just gets interestinger and interestinger . . .