On Monday, July 7th, Earth First!, Cascadia Summer and other affinity groups blockaded and occupied a logging road in Elliot State Forest. They asked the Oregon Department of Forestry to “buyback all sales in Elliot state forest, namely because we need to save this carbon and biodiversity reserve”, says Jasmine Zimmerstucky, a spokeswoman for Cascadia Summer. This blockaded held off loggers for two days, then was issued an eviction notice from the Oregon Department of Forestry. Holding off loggers and the state of Oregon’s finest; Cascadia Free State held for four long days. Using logs, an overturned van and roughly 45 persons, there were constructed a tri-pod, bi-pod and a sky-pod, one Cascadian said “The structures are complicated and the people are dedicated.”
The police themselves seemed to agree, when the department of Forestry delivered the eviction notice (signed by governor Kulongoski), one agent is said to have remarked “This is impressive, what are we gonna do”? The answer to that question came the next day, when state called in some 80-90 persons. There were 40 State troopers with their green camo and ‘less than lethal’ weapons, 10 black-clad Sheriffs armed like a swat team, 10 Special Forces agents who hiked in the back way, Department of Forestry members, engineers who cut the blockade, Sheriff’s marine patrol in a black SUV, High angle rescue ‘arial patrol’ National Guard, Black-Clad State detectives, Plain clothes forest service members, local sheriffs (and deputies) in brown, video crews (using generators), liaisons and Leaders. The vehicular entourage was between 14-25 vehicles including: ATVs, Patty wagons, trailers, a Fire truck, Ambulance, SUVs, a cherry picker, bulldozer, all led by a golf-cart with ATV wheels. Traveling on windy gravel logging roads, they arrived at 9:40am, their attitude that day was summed during a press conference when Sergeant Stone said “I don’t care about the earth, I am just here to exploit it and enjoy it”.
Meanwhile as this group trundled up the mountain, bristling with weapons. Cascadia Summer and Earth First!, began its morning meal. The group had just hauled a fallen tree, some several hundred meters, maneuvered it and turned it around and was digging a hole for it to become a mono-pod. The Cascadians, were cleaning their breakfast dishes, sending supplies into the bi, tri and sky pods. A massive collaborative undertaking was being handled… when the shrill whistle of warning told Cascadians of the impending police confrontation.
From several reports based upon those inside the blockade. ‘First the state troopers wandered around grabbing anyone who was not locked down, gradually dragging and pulling people out of the brush, or who had been away from camp when the warning came. Then they spent ten minutes staring around looking confused, until one of the officers began directing the removal of people, those in arm bars, U-locks, cutting out barrels, a overturned van and bulldozed the wood barricade. Getting in to the van required cutting the windshield, this took some hour. Then the police targeted a sunken barrel which one Cascadian was locked to, taking some two hours. Next officers seemed to prioritize getting down the pods (a bi-pod and sky-pod), somewhat ignoring two lockdown barrels. They offered several plans of increasing bravado, all of which were severely dangerous and potentially deadly and those locked-down explained the disadvantages and risk of pursuing some of the purposed plans. The officers eventually called in the National Guard. The Guard arrived and began their work to get access to the pods. This process went on for several hours, then the officers went to work on the barrels, taking roughly one hour each. Cutting down to the very arm chamber of the occupants, to force their arrest. All the while, the police were filming the dismantling of the whole setup, as part of a training video’.
The small state army arrested some 27 persons, 16 of which were in lockdowns. There was one woman in a sky-pod, one male in a bi-pod, a male in a tri-pod, four in barrels, and nine in ‘black bears’ (arm covers which can’t be pulled apart). This band held off logging in Elliot state forest for four days. When asked if they were effective, one member ‘Badger’ of the lockdown replied “if we weren’t effective, they wouldn’t be here. We stopped them yesterday, we will today and must tomorrow”! One Cascadian, Spindle said “It would cost them less money to just buy back the timber sale; not to mention the associated risk”. The Department of Forestry apparently did not agree, claiming “You’re subject to arrest if you are on this road”, grabbing everyone of those who were not locked down, a medic, a hiker nearby, and all direct support persons. However, the operation had a price tag, “The Sheriff’s department spent $50,000”(The Register- Guard). One man who had just come from a hike was thrown into a patty wagon “My handcuffs were too tight, 9 hours I had to wait in that van. My arms were swelling and I was only let out to relieve myself once. No food or water was given. By the time we got to the police station, other people, who I had never met, commented that my hands were swollen” says Kodiac, a person who had come to see the goings on in public land, but was arrested for being in the area. The public land also had barricades, with state troopers and sheriffs.
Why ‘The Elliot’, as opposed to other sites, was selected for blockade. One member in the Cascadia Free State, Mullen, replied “It is a destructive practice, logging. We saw large trees coming out of the Elliot. ODF (Oregon Department of Forestry) has a history of destructive practices, especially here in the Elliot and in Tillamook. We needed more than litigation, or protesting, I wanted to do things that really made an impact”. Another Cascadian Wulf said “There is only twenty percent of native forest remaining in Oregon. We must preserve what’s left”. Trying to prevent another area from being covered in mono-cropping or replacement trees, Earth First! and Cascadia Summer took a stand. Another Cascadian, Phoenix, offered an articulation of the Forest defenders position “We need to live with the earth, and treat it with the respect it deserves. We need to live sustainably, off the land and with the land. Without a competitive hierarchy”. For more information, visit: www.forestdefensenow.org .