Animal Protection > ALF Foes
Lawyer on the Green Scare

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It has come to my attention in the past few weeks both through my involvement with the Resist! Collective, as well as by the insistent emails from friends, that there has been quite a bit of talk circulating since the close of the Green Scare hearings in Eugene at the beginning of June. Some time ago, I made promises to post a statement at the conclusion of those hearings, and yet it has been more than a month since my return from Eugene.
For those of you who do not know me, I have run Darren Thurston's support committee and website since his arrest in December 2005, and have a close association with some others indicted in the Green Scare case including Chelsea, Joe and Rebecca. This is only one facet of my long history of activism, but it is that which is most salient to this letter. Since his decision to co-operate with the US Government's investigation into the ALF/ELF early last summer, there have been a lot of allegations made about Darren and others which are either untrue or overblown in order to paint a particular picture. I would like to start here by explaining the truth as I have understood it as a participant and supporter in this case, then briefly talk about the personal effects of this situation, and also the greater ethics of our political movements. A dissertation this is not, I will try to be brief but thorough.

As many of you reading know, Darren decided to co-operate with the FBI investigation into his case in May of 2006 after being incarcerated for almost six months. He based his decision on the information that besides his charges in Oregon he would face additional charges in California of handling an incendiary device (albeit by conspiracy) at the Lichtfield action, which would carry a *mandatory minimum* sentence of 30 years on top of the 5-10 he was already facing. He was further made aware of the fact that three people with whom he had done the Lichtfield action had already agreed to testify against him, and that he would face the further charges in California alone (the other three indicted separately in Lichtfield were Rebecca Rubin, Joe Dibbee and Justin Solondz - all currently missing and considered fugitives by the US Government).

To put it simply, Darren was facing 35 years to life in prison and was set up for his most contentious trial entirely alone with an array of people lined up to testify against him. He had no way of winning his case, and he knew it. ...
Some of you know the history of Darren's activism, but for those of you who don't I note it for the sake of understanding why I think we need to re-evaluate the "movement" position on people caught in these complex legal situations. For over two decades (since his early teens) Darren has been a committed activist to animal, earth and human rights. First imprisoned from 1992-94 for liberating cats slated for experimentation at a University of Alberta laboratory, Darren has put his beliefs into action over and over again. The list of organizations Darren has been involved in or helped to start are numerous and include BearWatch, the Coalition for Animal Liberation, Friends of the Elaho, TAO Communications, the Victory Project, the Compassion Club, the Animal Liberation Front, the Earth Liberation Front, and many others. Darren has now acknowledged his involvement in producing The Final Nail - the seminal work in North America on shutting down fur farms - a major contributor to putting many mink farms out of business in the US in the 1990s. He additionally ran and produced many security websites and manuals for activists as well as contributing to other direct action manuals, workshops and conferences.
Although movement radicals have focused a lot on the particulars of what each individual has said or done in this situation, the FBI has taken a much more global view of the case. Their motivation from the beginning and straight through has been to "smash the network of the ELF and ALF in North America," which they have made clear both in private debriefing sessions as well as in court filings. Smashing the network means a lot more than putting a few people in jail for long prison sentences (in fact, it means not putting people in jail for long sentences lest movement martyrs be created). Smashing the network relies on a number of things:
And so to my fellow radicals - I suppose we each have to ask ourselves would any of us have made a different decision given the facts laid out above? And if we are even slightly hesitant in our answer of yes, then who are we to judge another in difficult circumstances? Do we want a movement based on martyrdom? Do we want to participate in the exclusionary silencing occurring right now as people like myself try to bring these ethical questions out into community only to be met by stone walls? Is this the movement we want to build - a mob who passes judgment without trial and who enforces a single morality that is not up for discussion or debate?

I recognize the questions above are somewhat polemic in nature, certainly positional and designed to provoke; but I am not objective at all here - and more than that - I believe that these words form a truth important in the self-reflections of radicals, and the way forward to a better world. Which is something that I pose to you is worth fighting for. Or at least fighting over.

I do not provide this letter in order to evoke tiny violins or sympathetic tears, but because I have thought much on this subject in the past few weeks and have finally come to a place where I can say it all and honestly. I hope this is the spirit in which you take what I have said above, that I am not trying to obfuscate or cajole, but bring to the light what I believe to be true about what this experience has so far been. For better analysis, understanding and stronger community - these words are what stand for me.

I am in eternal gratitude for those who struggle, those who support and those who work towards a better world. You are in my heart and in my circle.

Darren Thurston Support Ctte.

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