[Ppnews] 6 arrested in eco justice cases

Political Prisoner News PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 9 08:40:14 EST 2005

Friday, December 9, 2005 - 12:00 AM

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Arrests may be key in UW arson

By Peter Lewis
Seattle Times staff reporter

University of Washington officials are hopeful 
that the arrests of six people in connection with 
a series of eco-errorism attacks in the Northwest 
could lead to a break in the unsolved 2001 arson 
that destroyed the UW's Center for Urban Horticulture.

Among the arrests announced Thursday are two 
people who have been charged with an arson at an 
Oregon tree farm that occurred at the same time 
as the UW arson. The Earth Liberation Front 
(ELF), a group that has carried out sabotage 
against targets it deems to be threats to the 
environment, has claimed responsibility for both fires.

Assistant Chief Ray Wittmier of the UW Police 
Department said his department will meet today 
with federal law-enforcement officials to discuss 
the possibility of a link between the UW arson 
and the fire at the Jefferson Poplar Farms in 
Clatskanie on May 21, 2001. The UW fire caused 
between $1.5 million and $2 million in damage.

"Even if it isn't the same people, just the 
coincidence of the same type of arson happening 
the same day would be amazing," Wittmier said. 
"It definitely will be interesting to confer."

Seattle FBI spokeswoman Robbie Burroughs said she 
was unwilling to make any definitive statement 
beyond acknowledging that the FBI "has a lot more 
investigation to do in this state."

John Hasychak, a supervisory special agent for 
the FBI in Seattle, described as "historical" 
news of the arrests of the six people in four 
states stemming from indictments returned in 
Portland and Seattle. The charges relate to four 
separate arsons and the destruction of 
electrical-transmission tower in the Northwest 
dating to 1998, with total damage estimated at about $5 million.

The ELF and the Animal Liberation Front, two 
loosely knit radical groups, have claimed 
responsibility for many of the acts, authorities 
said. After the UW and Clatskanie arsons, ELF 
sent a communiqué that said the attack on the 
tree farm targeted hybrid poplars grown on the 
farm because they threaten native biodiversity in 
the ecosystem. The same communiqué said the UW 
arson was directed at the work of UW researcher 
Toby Bradshaw on genetically engineered trees.

Among those arrested Wednesday were Stanislaw G. 
Meyerhoff, 28, and Daniel G. McGowan, 31, both 
charged with arsons at the Jefferson Poplar Farms 
on May 21, 2001, and the Superior Lumber Company 
in Glendale, Ore. on Jan. 2, 2001. Damages in 
each fire exceeded $1 million. Both face up to life in prison if convicted.

Authorities said Meyerhoff was separately 
indicted for the toppling of a Bonneville Power 
Administration electrical-transmission tower in Bend, Ore., on Dec. 30, 1999.

Also charged are William C. Rodgers, 40, and 
Kevin M. Tubbs, 36, for the June 21, 1998, arson 
at the Animal and Plant and Health Inspection 
Services facility in Olympia. Damage was 
estimated at $1.2 million. If convicted, each faces up to 20 years in prison.

Also charged are:

• Sarah K. Harvey, 28, for the arson at U.S. 
Forest Industries in Medford, Ore., on Dec. 27, 
1998. The fire caused an estimated $500,000. She 
faces up to 20 years if convicted.

• Chelsea D. Gerlach, 28, for destruction of the 
BPA tower in Bend, for which she faces up to 20 
years, and also with torching a meat company in 
Eugene on May 9, 1999, causing about $1.2 
million. She pleaded not guilty to the destruction of the tower Thursday.

The FBI has said groups like ALF and ELF have 
been responsible for arsons and other destructive 
acts that have caused more than $110 million in 
damage across the U.S. John Lewis, the FBI's 
deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, 
told a Senate committee earlier this year that 
environmental and animal-rights activists who 
have turned to arson and explosives are the 
nation's top domestic-terrorism threat.

In the Seattle area, ALF or ELF has claimed 
responsibility for several arsons, including at 
homes under construction in Snohomish County in 
early 2004 and in King County in 2005. The 
Building Industry Association of Washington has 
offered a $100,000 reward for the conviction of 
anyone associated with a residential fire attributed to ELF/ALF.

Because both ELF and ALF are loose-knit 
organizations, authorities have had a difficult 
time solving many of the crimes. However, there 
have been recent arrests and convictions in 
ELF-connected cases, including the firebombing of 
125 sport-utility vehicles near Los Angeles in 
2003. In September, a New Jersey man pleaded 
guilty to setting fire to the McDonald's 
restaurant near Seattle's Space Needle in 2003, 
an act he claimed he did on behalf of ELF and 
ALF. Christopher W. McIntosh, 23, of Maple Shade, 
N.J., will be sentenced Dec. 16 in Seattle.

Fred Hoyt manager of the UW's facilities and 
grounds for the university's Botanic Garden, said 
that if the arrests aid in solving the UW arson 
it will help him and his co-workers close a 
difficult chapter in their lives. A new 
horticulture center was opened earlier this year.

But Barry Sheldahl, 1st Assistant U.S. Attorney 
in Portland, said it was premature to say what 
might emerge as the investigation unfolds. 
"Obviously," he said, "we're going to talk to 
these defendants through their lawyers, and we're not at that point yet."

Peter Lewis: 206-464-2217 or 
<mailto:plewis at seattletimes.com>plewis at seattletimes.com

Seattle Times staff reporters Christopher 
Schwarzen, Jennifer Sullivan and Hal Bernton and 
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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