Jeff Luers: Now with more Free!

    Check it out now: Green Scared? Preliminary Lessons of the Green Scare: “…What we know of the early Backfire investigation points to a strategy of generalized monitoring and infiltration. While investigators used increasingly focused tools and strategies as the investigation gained steam—for example, sending “cooperating witnesses” wearing body wires to talk to specific targets—they started out by sifting through a whole demographic of counter-cultural types. Activist and punk houses as well as gathering spots such as bars were placed under surveillance—anarchists who drink should be careful about the way alcohol can loosen lips. Infiltrators and informants targeted not only the most visibly committed anarchists, but also bohemians who inhabited similar cultural and social spheres. Police accumulated tremendous amounts of background information even while failing to penetrate the circles in which direct action was organized. The approximately 30,000 pages of discovery in the Oregon cases contain a vast amount of gossip and background information on quite a few from the Eugene community…” Et cetera et cetera et cetera. Neat article.

Jeffrey “Free” Luers Sentence Reduced to 10 Years
Source : Civil Rights Outreach Committee Press Release [PDF] c/o @-Infos

This morning at 9:00am in Lane County Circuit Court the re-sentencing hearing for Jeffrey Luers took place in front of Judge Billings. This followed an Oregon court of appeals ruling in February 2007 that Luers original sentence of 22 years 8 months by Judge Lyle Velure was illegal, and the appeals court remanded the case back to Lane County Circuit Court for re-sentencing. Following the appeals court decision, negotiations have resulted in the decision today to reduce Luers sentence to 10 years, bringing his release date to late December 2009.

In June 2001, then 23 year-old Jeffrey “Free” Luers was arrested for the burning of three trucks at a Eugene car dealership. His stated purpose was to raise awareness about global warming and the role that SUVs and trucks play in that process. Despite the fact that this action hurt no one, caused only $28,000 in damages and the cars were later resold, Luers received the draconian sentence imposed by Velure.

Luers gained support locally as well as all over the world as a political prisoner. It is widely believed that Luers received such a drastic sentence because of the political nature of the action he took. Following his original sentence, Amnesty International and the Eugene Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued letters of support citing that the sentence appeared to be politically motivated. During the course of his trial, statements were made by the police and prosecuting attorney that indicated it was Luers’ political views on trial, not merely his actions. His defense successfully proved that evidence had been tampered with, officers had lied and that the prosecutor had manipulated evidence to get a legal search warrant at his residence. Luers was given a sentence that attempted to send the message to environmental and social justice activists that even a merely symbolic act of property destruction could be punished more harshly than many crimes against persons.

Prior to his imprisonment, Luers was a very well respected community activist in Eugene, Oregon involved with forest defense and cooking free food for the city’s homeless population. He has remained active from prison, often writing news articles and monthly dispatches to his growing list of supporters. With a release date on the horizon, Luers future is bright and he plans to pursue courses and looks forward to sharing quality time with his family and loved ones.

Statement from Jeffrey Luers [PDF]:

“Today I feel a great weight lifted off of me, and my loved ones. While I believe my new sentence is still more of a reflection of my activism and my dissent than my actual crimes; I am looking forward to my much closer release date.

I am proud of the many things I have accomplished while incarcerated, including reaching beyond oceans and borders to help raise awareness about global warming and to help combat social injustice.

I am thankful of my family, friends and the thousands of supporters and fellow activists from around the world who have stood by me since day one. And I’d especially like to thank my attorneys, and friends. Lauren Regan, Misha Dunlap and Shawn Wiley for never giving up on getting me out sooner than 22 years.

I am happy to say this journey is almost over and I’ll be coming home soon.”

For more information, go to: Civil Liberties Defence Center | Free Jeff Luers! | See also : Green Scare Update

Sentence cut in half for Oregon environmental activist
William McCall / The Associated Press
February 28, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The only environmental activist sentenced in state court after a series of arson fires around the West could be released from prison next year after a judge reduced his sentence by more than half. Jeffrey “Free” Luers, 29, was resentenced to 10 years of his original sentence of nearly 23 years for burning three SUVs at a car dealership and trying to set fire to an oil company in Eugene in 2000.

The Oregon Supreme Court ordered the resentencing after Luers won his appeal of the sentence imposed by Lane County Circuit Judge Lyle Velure, who recently retired. Luers could be released by December 2009, with credit for time served.

In a statement to Lane County Circuit Judge Jack Billings during his resentencing on Thursday, Luers said he remains committed to political activism but will pursue it through legal means. “I can now say with all honesty that I was wrong to think that arson would inspire social change,” Luers said.

He said he is looking forward to his release, continuing his education and working on environmental issues, including global warming, offering a warning about potential ecological disaster and urging cooperation to prevent it.

“We are all in this together, whether we are labeled radical, conservative or liberal,” Luers said. “And together is the only way we are going to solve this problem.”

Ten other radical environmentalists were sentenced to various terms last year in federal court in Eugene for their role in a series of arsons that caused $40 million in damage across five Western states from 1996 to 2001.

The longest sentence imposed in those cases was 13 years.

Those now serving federal prison sentences were involved with a secretive Earth Liberation Front cell known as “The Family.” One of the arsons by ELF members was another attack on the same Eugene car dealership where Luers burned the SUVs. They said it was carried out as revenge for the long sentence originally imposed on him. Luers expressed support for those activists from the Oregon State Penitentiary, saying he considered them political prisoners, like himself.

Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene and one of the attorneys for Luers, said supporters were pleased with the resentencing despite unsuccessful efforts to negotiate an immediate release for time served. Regan said the original sentence took “into account politics rather than the law and the facts of the case.”

Another environmental activist associated with the Earth Liberation Front, Briana Waters, is on trial in federal court in Seattle on charges of serving as a lookout while her friends planted a fire bomb at the University of Washington in 2001.

On Briana Waters’ case, see also Accused Arsonist Denies Wash. Fire Role, Gene Johnson/AP, February 28, 2008. Note that one of Waters’ lawyers, Robert Bloom, “said prosecutors are pinning their case on the testimony of [Lacey] Phillabaum and Jennifer Kolar, who are expected to receive more lenient sentences in exchange for their cooperation. Waters claimed on the witness stand that the two are trying to frame her: Phillabaum because she had a relationship with Waters’ boyfriend at the time, and Kolar because Waters spurned her sexual advances. The former boyfriend, Justin Solondz, is a fugitive in the case. William “Avalon” Rodgers, who also was indicted, committed suicide in jail. Waters’ defense attorneys rested their case Wednesday. Closing arguments are expected by the end of the week”. Phillabaum is due for sentencing on March 21, 2008. Other co-operating defendants in the so-called Green Scare trials are Chelsea Gerlach, Stanislas Meyerhoff, Suzanne Savoie, Kendall Tankersley, Darren Thurston and Kevin Tubbs, all of whom have been sentenced to various terms in jail. Non-cooperating defendants Nathan Block, Daniel McGowan, Johnathan Paul and Joyanna Zacher received sentences of 7 years and 8 months (Block), 7 years (McGowan), 4 years and 3 months — subject to further legal negotiation (Paul) and 7 years and 8 months (Zacher). Another Green Scare victim, Eric McDavid, is being sentenced on March 13.

Note that none of these cases (with one exception — Jeff Luers, by SBS Dateline‘s Olivia Rousset) has been covered by Australian state or corporate media.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2023 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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