Activist Lawyer Speaks Out Against Green Scare
by Michael Steinberg
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007 at 1:45 AM
Activist Brenna Bell spoke out against the Green Scare at Loyola Law School on October 29.
New Orleans, October 29-Activist lawyer Brenna Bell spoke out against the Green Scare today at Loyola Law School, and informed people about how they can resist it.
The Green Scare is a term used to describe a repressive campaign currently being carried out by the federal government against environmenal activists.
Bell said the Green Scare is also called that because "of its resonance with the Red Scare" of the McCarthyite 1950s. Then the Communists were the bogeymen, today it's the Terrorists.
Or, more specifically, Eco-Terrorists. Brenna Bell said that term originated with the Wise Use movement, a right wing attempt to criminalize environmental successes.
Former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzolez gave the green light to the Green Scare by devoting an entire press conference to "Eco-terrorism" several years ago, Bell reported.
Around that same time the FBI announced that the ELF (Earth Liberation Front) was the #1 domestic terrorism threat. In late 2005 the G-men (FBI) began "Operation Backfire." It's purpose: to seek out and destroy environmental direct action groups, especially the ELF and ALF (Animal Liberation Front).
Bell reported that these groups had previously carried out a number of successful actions involving saboutage, arson and property damage. These included the burning of an under-construction ski resort in an old growth forest in Colorado; the destruction of SUVs in Oregon; the release of 2000 minks from a 'mink farm' in that state; and the freeing of wild horses slated to be ground up into horse meat.
None of these actions were intended to cause, or resulted in, any harm to people, according to Bell.
"Green Scare is a smokescreen to divert people's attention from real terrorist actions," Bell said. "Our planet is in serious trouble. The real Eco-Terroists are those people who pollute our air and water for short term profits. The environmental activists were motivated by a desire to stop environmental degradation."
Bell also pointed out that saboutage and property damage are American traditions in resisting oppression. Audience members gave examples of this such as the Boston Tea Party, the freeing of slaves from prisons, and the disabling of nuclear weapons.
Thus far "Operation Backfire" has resuslted in 16 indictments. Bell said the charges initially were "arson, attempted arson, conspiracy, and carrying a destructive device. The minimum maximum for that last charge is 20 years."
The threatened sentences for each person charged were life + 115 years.
The government was able to get these indictments because one ELF member, Jacob "Jake the Snake" Ferguson, "known to be unstable and a heroin addict," Bell said, responded to an FBI offer of $150,000 for incriminating info leading to the ELF.
"The feds then used the life + 115 threat to get corroborating witnesses," Bell said. "About half of those indicted turned states' witnesses."
In additon one of those indicted, Bob Rodgers, killed himself in his jail cell shortly after his arrest.
The indictments and turning of activists into snitches created "a chilling effect" in environmental communities in the Pacific Northwest, according to Bell.
As have the sentences since handed down. Bell reported these as "37 to 156 months--3 to 13 years. The people who refused to 'cooperate' got vastly greater sentences. Now the government is seeking 'terrorism enhancement', which could add half as many years to the sentences."
Meanwhile, Jake the Snake, although also indicted, is walking. He received no prison time.
One more person indicted has refused to cooperate with authorities, and is awaiting trial.
And all this without any terrorist charges being brought against anyone.
Lessons learned? Among them, Brenna Bell said, are that "causing internal division causes more damage than anything else the government could do.
"Green Scare isn't about justice, it's about coercion and punishment of people because of their politics. We're living in a police state. The government is using the 'War On Terror' to totally abrogate the Bill of Rights.
"Know your rights and use them. Educate others. Hold protective rights trainings. Know the law and know how it might fail you.
"Don't gossip. Don't talk about stuff you don't want the government to know. Don' be a snitch.
"Know our history. This isn't the first time this has happened. This is what the US does every time a war starts, to take rights away. Know how other people lived through it.
"Reject the chill. The government can't round us all up, so it uses the chill to scare people. Keep acting for justice. Otherwise the government will keep bowling over our rights until it's total fascism."
Bell's appearance was sponsored by the National Lawyer's Guild of Loyola.