[Ppnews] The “Green Scare” One Year and Beyond: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 8 17:18:06 EST 2006

The “Green Scare” One Year and Beyond:
Looking Back, Moving Forward

Civil Rights Outreach Committee, 12/7/06

One year ago, a nationwide sweep of arrests 
revealed the FBI’s “Operation Backfire,” a vast 
investigation and persecution of environmental 
and animal advocacy. Today, in cities throughout 
the world, events will mark this anniversary with 
displays of unity and firm opposition to 
government repression, Operation Backfire and the broader “Green Scare.”

Those arrested on December 7, 2005, and 
subsequent sweeps, were accused of property 
destruction intended to preserve the environment 
and animal life. Despite the fact that none of 
the arrestees were accused of injury to any human 
or animal, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and 
the corporate-dominated Bush administration 
described the accused as being the nation’s 
number-one domestic terrorist threat. Several of 
those arrested entered plea deals in the District 
of Oregon to avoid sentences in excess of 1,000 
years. Briana Waters, the mother of a young child 
and violin instructor, still faces trial in 
Washington federal court and asserts her 
innocence on all counts. Several individuals are 
currently being sought by federal law enforcement 
and are believed to be out of the country. One of 
the accused died of an apparent suicide late last 
year while being held in an Arizona jail. The 
government asserts that this witch hunt is ongoing and has no end in sight.

Operation Backfire arrests are the capstone of a 
broader “Green Scare” which is strikingly similar 
to the Red Scare of the 1940s and ‘50s. The 
phrase “Green Scare” has been used to include not 
just the cases from the Operation Backfire 
indictments, but also the cases of Tre Arrow, the 
SHAC7, the Auburn 3, and Rodney Coronado, as well 
as recent legislation such as the Animal 
Enterprise Terrorism Act, which identifies 
non-violent activism as acts of terrorism if it 
reduces the profitability of exploitive corporations.

Responding to this repression, supporters 
designated today, December 7, as an International 
Day of Solidarity with Green Scare Indictees, 
Detainees, and Political Prisoners. Forty-four 
events in eight different countries have now been 
scheduled to take place on or around this day.

An Overview of the Eco-Sabotage Cases

On December 7, 2005, one of the largest roundups 
of environmental and animal liberation activists 
in American history began. Using the code name 
“Operation Backfire,” the FBI arrested seven 
people in four different states. Chelsea Gerlach, 
Darren Thurston, William Rodgers, Kendall 
Tankersley (Sarah Kendall Harvey), Kevin Tubbs, 
Daniel McGowan and Stanislas Meyerhoff were 
arrested for allegedly taking part in a wide 
variety of actions the government attributes to 
the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal 
Liberation Front (ALF). On that very same day, 
several people across the Pacific Northwest were 
subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury to be 
convened in Eugene, Oregon. One of those taken 
into custody, Darren Thurston (a Canadian 
citizen), was served with a subpoena and later 
indicted in U.S. District Court with federal 
conspiracy charges and charges related to the 
arson of a horse corral near Susanville, 
California. Within days of the first arrests it 
was revealed that a paid informant, Jacob 
Ferguson, admitted to participating in several 
arsons and given federal investigators and 
prosecutors information which allegedly supported 
the indictments. It was also revealed that 
Meyerhoff had agreed to be a federal cooperating 
witness almost immediately upon arrest and interrogation.

On December 22, William Rodgers was found dead in 
his jail cell in Flagstaff, Arizona, from an 
apparent suicide. Rodgers worked at the Catalyst 
Bookstore and Infoshop in Prescott, Arizona, and 
was involved in ecological struggles for many 
years in different parts of the United States.

On January 20, 2006, federal prosecutors and U.S. 
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced a 
sweeping 65-count indictment, including two 
conspiracy charges, against 11 individuals 
relating to 17 different incidents in Oregon, 
Washington, Wyoming, Colorado and California. The 
indictment alleged that the accused were members 
of a fictional network, referred to in the 
indictments as “The Family,” and that they had 
conspired to commit several acts of arson. The 
indictment charged various defendants with arson, 
attempted arson, and using and carrying a 
destructive device. The destructive device 
charge, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), carries a 30-year 
mandatory sentence, with a mandatory life 
sentence for a second conviction of this charge. 
The government used this charge and the 
conspiracy charge to coerce individuals to become 
informants by threatening them with multiple life 
sentences for acts of uninhabited property 
destruction. In addition to the six people 
arrested on December 7, the Oregon indictment 
also named Jonathan Paul, Suzanne Savoie, Joseph 
Dibee, Rebecca Rubin (Canadian citizen) and 
Josephine Overaker. Paul was arrested in Oregon a 
few days before the indictment was announced, and 
Savoie turned herself in soon after Paul’s 
arrest. Dibee, Rubin and Overaker are believed to be out of the country.

In the weeks that followed, the government 
coerced and intimidated the defendants with 
various threats -- primarily, life in prison. 
Five individuals were then revealed as 
“confidential sources” for the government’s case. 
Subsequently, on February 23, Nathan Fraser Block 
and Joyanna L. Zacher were arrested in Olympia, 
Washington. The government issued a new 
indictment on March 15 which included Block and 
Zacher who were held in custody and facing life 
plus 1,115 years in prison for their minor roles in two separate arsons.

On June 28, the government arraigned 
non-cooperating defendants Block, Zacher, McGowan 
and Paul on yet another 65-count superseding indictment.

On July 20 and 21, Thurston, Tubbs, Tankersley, 
Meyerhoff, Gerlach and Savoie pled guilty to a 
variety of conspiracy, arson and attempted arson 
charges in U.S. District Court in Eugene. Federal 
prosecutors recommended that Thurston be 
sentenced to 37 months imprisonment; Tubbs, 168 
months; Tankersley, 51 months; Meyerhoff, 188 
months; Gerlach, 120 months; and Savoie, 63 
months. All remaining charges against these 
defendants will be waived, and no additional 
charges will be brought against them in other 
districts if they fully and completely cooperate 
with the government’s terms of cooperation. The 
presiding judge granted motions by the 
cooperating defendants’ attorneys to seal all 
plea petitions, cooperation agreements, and the 
transcripts of the public court hearings, thus 
making them unavailable for public scrutiny. On 
August 22, upon the motion of the non-cooperating 
defendants, this judge granted a motion to unseal 
these documents but for the paragraphs regarding cooperation.

During the two days of plea deal hearings, the 
government announced that it would pursue upward 
enhancement of sentences for the six taking 
pleas, arguing that the federal anti-terrorism 
enhancement guidelines apply to their sentences 
as well. At the request of the federal 
government, Gerlach made an unusual statement at 
the conclusion of her plea proceeding, denouncing 
her actions. At the hearings of Gerlach and 
Meyerhoff, the government disclosed new 
allegations indicating additional arson incidents 
alleged to have occurred in Phoenix, Arizona, and 
the eastern district of Michigan, though neither 
was charged with these incidents at this time.

Several months earlier, Daniel McGowan’s 
attorneys filed a motion on behalf of the 
non-cooperating defendants compelling the 
government to disclose whether the National 
Security Agency (NSA) had conducted illegal 
surveillance and monitoring during the 
investigation.  The government acknowledged that 
it did not know whether such surveillance 
existed, and the Court ordered the government to file a response to the motion.

On November 9, the remaining District of Oregon 
defendants Joyanna Zacher, Nathan Block, Daniel 
McGowan and Jonathan Paul entered a global 
resolution plea deal. (Note: Briana Waters is not 
indicted in Oregon. She is the only 
non-cooperating defendant in the Washington 
indictment and vigorously asserts her innocence.) 
Prior to their formal plea hearings, the four 
defendants withdrew their NSA motion, [Briana 
Waters’ defense team continues to pursue a 
similar NSA motion in her District of Washington 
case. No court hearings or rulings have been 
issued at this time.] In the non-cooperation plea 
agreements, the four defendants agreed to accept 
responsibility for their own roles in 
environmentally motivated property crimes, but do 
not agree to provide information or testify 
against anyone now or in the future. Complete, 
non-redacted plea agreements for these four defendants are publicly available.

During the November 9 plea hearing, Joyanna 
Zacher and Nathan Block each pled to one count of 
conspiracy, attempted arson, plus multiple arson 
charges from actions at the Joe Romania Chevrolet 
car dealership in Eugene and the Jefferson Poplar 
tree farm. Daniel McGowan entered a plea to one 
conspiracy charge plus multiple charges of arson 
relating to sabotage at Superior Lumber and 
Jefferson Poplar. The government is recommending 
that these three be sentenced to 96 months in 
federal prison. Jonathan Paul pled to one count 
of conspiracy and one count of arson for his 
minor role in the property destruction at the 
Cavel West horse slaughterhouse. He received a 
suggested sentence of 60 months in prison. During 
the hearing, McGowan made a statement to the 
court that “this plea agreement is very important 
to me because it allows me to accept full 
responsibility for my actions and at the same 
time remain true to my strongly held beliefs.” 
Outside the courthouse, Jonathan Paul’s sister 
Alexandra Paul read a statement that her brother 
“will continue to be a person deeply committed to 
the betterment of our society and the elimination 
of animal and human suffering.”

As with the other defendants, the government has 
indicated it will seek the “terrorism” 
enhancement at sentencing, which could result in 
up to 20 additional years of imprisonment. A 
status hearing to determine sentencing dates for 
all of the Oregon defendants will take place in 
Eugene on December 14 at 9:45 a.m. Just before 
that, at 9 a.m., Gerlach and Meyerhoff are 
scheduled to enter guilty pleas to additional out-of-state prosecutions.

Savoie, Tankersley, McGowan, and Paul are all out 
on release pending their sentencing. All other 
persons indicted in the District of Oregon who 
have been located are currently in custody.

On October 4, two informants, Jennifer Kolar and 
Lacey Phillabaum, pled guilty to felony charges 
of conspiracy, arson, and use of a destructive 
device during a violent act, all in relation to 
the University of Washington fires. They also 
agreed to be responsible for paying restitution 
to UW and victims, if any, with the specific 
amounts of which yet to be determined. Kolar’s 
recommended sentence is 5-7 years for her role in 
multiple arsons.  Phillabaum’s recommended 
sentence is 3-5 year for her role in UW arson. 
Both women have been cooperating with the FBI 
extensively and are free until their sentencing dates.

The case was originally started not by law 
enforcement efforts, but solely by a single 
informant, Jacob Ferguson, a heroin addict and 
life-long arsonist and petty criminal. The 
indictments were a result of statements provided 
to the FBI by Ferguson, Stanislas Meyerhoff and 
others were coerced into making similar 
statements upon capture and interrogation. 
Ferguson and Meyerhoff have admitted to their 
participation in most of the alleged arsons and 
have admitted leadership roles. The National 
Lawyers Guild recently came out in strong 
opposition to the unconstitutional life sentences 
for property crimes threatened in these cases, 
and stated that the “government is misusing 
destructive device charges and engaging in selective prosecution.”

Misuse of Grand Juries
On March 21, Camilo Stephenson was subpoenaed to 
a Denver, Colorado, grand jury and questioned 
about the 1998 Vail ski resort fire. He denied 
any knowledge of any of the incidents.

Jeff Hogg and Burke Morris were subpoenaed to 
testify in front of federal grand juries on May 
18, Hogg in Eugene, and Morris in Denver. Hogg 
refused to testify before the Eugene grand jury, 
and was held in contempt by Judge Michael Hogan 
and sent to jail. Hogg was then placed in 
custody, without having being charged with any 
crime. The unlawful grand jury was scheduled to 
expire on September 29, 2006.  However, days 
before Jeff was to regain his freedom, the 
federal government extended this grand jury for six more months.

After more than six months and following the 
global resolution of the remaining District of 
Oregon cases on November 9, the government 
finally agreed to free Hogg. On November 15, Hogg 
was released from the Josephine County jail in 
Grant's Pass, Oregon, rejoining his partner and 
community. Hogg commented shortly after release: 
“I'm happy to be free and not to have compromised 
my principles in the face of the abusive grand 
jury system.” The government continues to 
threaten Hogg with another subpoena and more jail time.

In Colorado on May 28, Burke Morris answered 
limited questions asked by the Denver grand jury 
about his personal life, but denied any knowledge 
of other incidents he was questioned about. 
Morris later issued a statement: “I have the 
utmost respect for Jeff Hogg and hope all will 
support him during his incarceration for refusing 
to answer grand jury questions.”

On June 27, Jim Dawson of Olympia, WA, received a 
subpoena to appear before a grand jury at the 
Federal District Courthouse in Seattle, WA. This 
subpoena most likely came about as a result of 
his partner, Heather Moore, who had been 
contacted by the FBI a few months earlier. His 
appearance has been postponed because he 
consented to be questioned by the FBI in lieu of 
his scheduled grand jury appearance. The extent 
of his disclosure to the government is unknown at 
this time. As a result of this voluntary 
cooperation, additional subpoenas are possible.

The federal government for now has called off 
Craig Rosebraugh’s grand jury subpoena.

Grand juries by law are authorized only to decide 
whether or not to bring new indictments. In this 
case, grand juries are being used to gather 
evidence to prepare for trial, an illegal use of 
the grand jury as defined by law. This runaway 
grand jury has been convened around the country 
regarding this case and the larger environmental movement since 2000.

California Indictments
On April 6, California issued its indictments in 
connection with the 2001 horse corral fire near 
Susanville, CA. Justin Solondz was charged by the 
federal court in Sacramento, but is not in 
custody. Also indicted for the corral fire were 
Darren Thurston (whose plea on this charge was 
integrated into his general District of Oregon 
deal as a result of cooperation), Joseph Dibee and Rebecca Rubin.

Colorado Indictments
On May 18, a federal grand jury indicted Chelsea 
Dawn Gerlach, Stanislas Meyerhoff, Josephine 
Overaker and Rebecca Rubin for alleged 
involvement in the 1998 arson of the Vail ski 
resort. The Colorado federal court agreed to 
transfer these charges to Oregon where Gerlach 
and Meyerhoff have District of Oregon plea deals 
that incorporate their Colorado charges. On 
September 29, Gerlach and Meyerhoff entered 
guilty pleas during their District of Oregon 
arraignment for Vail-related charges; neither 
Meyerhoff nor Gerlach are expected to serve 
additional time in prison as a consequence of 
these pleas. Meyerhoff and Gerlach swore in court 
that Bill Rodgers was solely responsible for this alleged arson.

Washington Indictments
On March 30, Briana Waters was arrested in 
Seattle, WA, in connection with an alleged arson 
at the University of Washington Center for Urban 
Horticulture in 2001.  Waters, a California 
resident, is a violin teacher and mother of a 
young child. Waters was released from custody on 
March 31 and has a court date set for May 7, 
2007. She staunchly maintains her innocence to all charges.

On May 10, Washington issued a superseding 
indictment. This indictment includes the 
destructive device charge, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), a 
30-year mandatory sentence, for Waters. The 
indictment also added Tubbs and Solondz as 
defendants (with Bill Rodgers’ alleged 
participation) for the UW arson. Tubbs’ 
Washington charges are waived as a result of his plea deal.

Other informants in this case include Jennifer 
Kolar, of Seattle, WA, and Lacey Phillabaum of 
Spokane, WA. On October 4, both Kolar and 
Phillabaum entered plea deals in the Western 
Washington U.S. District Court, pleading guilty 
to conspiracy, arson and destructive device 
charges in relation to the Urban Horticulture 
property damage. In addition, Kolar pled guilty 
to charges relating to an attempted arson against 
the Wray Gun Club, sponsors of a turkey shoot, 
whose Colorado business allegedly had incendiary 
devices placed nearby (the alleged devices failed 
to ignite) -- Kolar’s Colorado charges were 
transferred to the Western Washington District 
before the hearing. Charges against Kolar in 
relation to an alleged arson in Redmond, Oregon 
against a horse-meat processing plant, will also 
be transferred to Washington federal court soon. 
During the hearing, Kolar received a suggested 
sentence of 5-7 years in federal prison despite 
facing a mandatory life sentence, Phillabaum, 3-5 
years. Formal sentencing for Kolar and Phillabaum 
is currently scheduled for January 5, 2007. Both 
Kolar and Phillabaum were released without bail 
following their pleas. Both have been provided 
significant reductions in their recommended 
sentences as a result of extensive cooperation 
with the federal government against the remaining non-cooperating defendants

Charges Against Rod Coronado

In a related but separate case, federal 
prosecutors in San Diego unsealed an indictment 
in February 2006, charging environmental and 
Native American activist Rodney Coronado with 
demonstrating how to use an incendiary device. 
After a lecture in 2003, Coronado, 39, of Tucson, 
Arizona, answered a question about how he made an 
incendiary device used in an action that he had 
spent four years in federal prison for several 
years ago. Coronado was charged with distribution 
of information relating to explosives, 
destructive devices and weapons of mass 
destruction. On November 2, Coronado’s lawyer 
argued that the statute under which Coronado was 
charged violates the First and Fifth Amendments 
of the U.S. Constitution. On November 15, the 
judge denied this motion, stating that this 
statute is not unconstitutional in all its 
applications. However, arguments as to whether 
the statute as applied to Coronado himself is 
illegal will be heard at trial. Coronado is 
currently in federal custody as a result of a 
federal conviction regarding his attempt to stop 
a mountain lion hunt by the federal government.

Support the Operation Backfire Defendants and Grand Jury Resistance!

District of Oregon

Daniel McGowan, Jonathan Paul, Nathan Block and 
Joyanna Zacher have taken plea deals that do not 
involve informing against others. Joyanna and 
Nathan remain in jail pre-sentencing. Please 
continue to support these four, before and after formal sentencing :
Nathan Block #1663667 / Lane County Jail / 101 W 5th Ave. / Eugene, OR 97401
Joyanna Zacher #1662550 / Lane County Jail / 101 W 5th Ave / Eugene, OR 97401
    Support group for Nathan and Joyanna: 
supportersofnathanandjoyanna at gmail.com
Daniel McGowan (Released on bail!)
    Support group: FriendsofDanielMcG at yahoo.com; www.supportdaniel.org
Jonathan Paul (Released on bail!)
    Support group: friendsofjonathanpaul at yahoo.com

Non-cooperating Defendant, Washington Indictments

Briana Waters (Released on court-ordered electronic monitoring)
    Support group: www.supportbriana.org

Grand Jury Resistance

Donations to help Jeff Hogg post-release may be sent to:
Friends of Jeff Hogg / PO Box 12271 / Eugene, OR 97440
One good information resource on grand juries and 
resistance to them is at: www.fbiwitchhunt.com. 
This page also features information on Bay Area grand juries.

Stay Informed – Information Resources

For more information, see cldc.org, 
greenscare.org and http://portland.indymedia.org/en/topic/greenscare/

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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