[Ppnews] When does vandalism become terrorism

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 2 13:43:26 EST 2006

this is an excellent piece by journalist Will 
Potter. We strongly encourage you to bookmark his 
blog which focuses on the Green Scare called 
<http://www.supportdaniel.org>Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan

Ideology: Turning “Vandalism” into “Eco-Terrorism”

November 2nd, 2006 by 
<http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/author/will-potter/>Will Potter

When environmental activists around the country 
were rounded up as part of “Operation Backfire,”
General Alberto R. Gonzales told reporters, 
“Today’s indictment is a significant step in 
bringing these terrorists to justice.” And when 
the <http://www.shac7.com/>SHAC 7 were sentenced 
for “animal enterprise terrorism,” it was for 
“their roles in a campaign to terrorize officers, 
employees and shareholders,” 
Department of Justice said. The “Operation 
Backfire” defendants are charged with serious 
crimes, but not accused of harming any human 
being. And the SHAC 7 are not even accused of 
committing any of the property crimes that they 
vocally supported on their website).

Keeping that in mind, take a look at some fires 
in the news the last few weeks.
According to 
Detroit News:

A Tuesday night fire at a longtime salvage yard 
caused more than $50,000 in damage — and the loss 
of some hard-to-find car parts coveted by hobbyists.

The owner of the lot suspected criminal intent:
“I’ve had a lot of trouble over here, a lot of 
vandalism,” he added. “We’ve had vandalism the last two Devil’s Nights.”

radio station said police were on the lookout for 
“tricksters” and “will be out in force to make 
sure any mischief doesn’t take place” on Devil’s 
Night. In many town these “tricksters” set 
buildings on fire the night before Halloween.

And in 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/02/us/02reno.html>New York Times:

RENO, Nev., Nov. 1 — Six people were killed and 
more than 30 injured Tuesday night in a fire that 
at least partly destroyed a historic residential 
hotel in the downtown casino district here. A 
47-year-old casino worker was arrested and 
charged with arson and multiple counts of murder.

The police said they did not know of a motive. 
reports that the suspect had previously served 
prison time for murder. And 
News reports:

Valerie Moore, 47, had been drinking and 
apparently flew into a rage Tuesday night after 
she quarreled with a fellow resident at the 
Mizpah Hotel before setting a mattress afire

So causing $50,000 in an arson, and destroying a 
man’s livelihood, is not terrorism. Vandalizing 
property is the work of “tricksters,” not 
terrorists. And burning down a hotel, murdering 
six people and injuring 30, is still not terrorism.
Why? Because those criminals committed those 
crimes out of anger, stupidity or malice. Not 
politics. When animal rights or environmental 
activists commit similar crimes — but don’t 
injure anyone — it is “eco-terrorism.” And when 
they simply support underground activists through 
websites and fiery rhetoric, they are convicted 
enterprise terrorism.”
The solution to this hypocrisy is not to label 
individuals who burn down car lots, or even those 
who murder people through arson, as terrorists. 
All crimes instill fear, instill terror, but 
labeling all crimes as terrorism sucks all meaning from the term.
Instead, we must make sure terrorism rhetoric 
isn’t batted around against the enemy of the 
hour, and used to prosecute actions that, while 
they may be criminal (or in the case of the SHAC 
7 do not amount to anything more than words), 
have not injured any human being. It is an insult 
to victims of true terrorism around the world. 
And it robs the accused of the possibility of a fair trail.

If all this sounds like an incredibly 
conservative argument, you’re right. Years ago 
when hate crimes legislation was a much hotter 
topic in state and federal legislatures, 
argued that:

the real danger of “hate crime” laws is that 
they criminalize thoughts and beliefs. The law 
should concern itself only with actions. 
Prosecutors must prove intent, but examining 
underlying beliefs goes far beyond that.

Conservatives feared the prosecution of crimes 
based on the political beliefs of those in power. 
Now they’re making their own fears a reality by 
using their power to 
activists they disagree with as “terrorists.”

Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan
Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social 
justice activist, unjustly arrested and charged 
in federal court. To donate to Daniel's legal 
defense, send a check/money order made out to 
"Lisa McGowan" to Lisa McGowan, PO Box 106, NY, 
NY 10156-106. http://www.supportdaniel.org

December 7th Day of Solidarity with Green Scare Indictees

National Lawyers Guild ECO-LAW Hotline for 
individuals arrested or subpoenaed for offenses 
related to environmental or animal activism.

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