Everywhere that there exists dynamic struggle against the state and capitalism, there is some degree of repression. Capitalism knows well how to protect its interests, and it entails targeting and eradicating those who challenge it’s dominance. While we continue our daily struggle against this monster, we also fight to make sure our friends and comrades who have been imprisoned by the state aren’t forgotten, that their material and emotional needs are taken care of, and that they remain connected to the movements that they have been forcibly yanked away from.
Last year, as one small gesture to address this, June 11th was called as a yearly day of solidarity with two of our longest-imprisoned anarchist comrades, Marie Mason and Eric McDavid. While we realize that many of us have limited time or resources to put toward basic material support for prisoners, we hope that their names and stories, as well as the lessons learned from their cases, can become well known everywhere. In our actions and solidarity, we wish to draw connections between Marie’s and Eric’s cases and those of imprisoned anarchist comrades all over the world who are experiencing firsthand these alarming trends of lengthy sentences and increased repression. This is a preliminary call addressed to all those who fight against this prison society to take action on June 11th, in solidarity with Eric, Marie and all long-term anarchist prisoners.
The cases of Marie and Eric appear fundamentally different at first glance. We choose to connect them in the context of June 11th, not only because of their similar sentences and the fact that they both remained incredibly strong in the face of intense harassment, but also to highlight and analyze the U.S. government’s multi-faceted strategy of repression.
Marie Mason was arrested in 2008 after more than 30 years of both above ground and clandestine organizing and action. She has been involved in both environmental and labor struggles, edited many radical publications, and was involved in water rights, anti-infrastructure and anti-logging and development projects in the Midwestern United States. She had already been subjected to years of FBI harassment when she was indicted for a string of Earth Liberation Front (E.L.F.) arsons that had occurred in 1999 and 2000. Her indictment was only possible due to the collaboration her ex-husband, Frank Ambrose, with the FBI. Due to continuing expenses, pressure and threats of a life sentence in prison, she took a non-cooperating plea deal that recommended her for 15-20 years. Citing her actions and her unwillingness to collaborate, the State turned on its word and sentenced her to nearly 23 years. Since being incarcerated, she has suffered health problems and has had many difficulties accessing vegan food, has been harassed and threatened constantly and has been re-located to a prison in Texas, hundreds of miles away from her family in Michigan. In the special “medical” unit she is currently held captive in, correspondence with the outside world is extremely controlled; her conditions can be likened to a Communications Management Unit in the U.S. or the FIES units in Spain. Some of her supporters and her family are still attempting to pursue legal means of reducing her sentence, but judicial avenues seem to be thoroughly exhausted at this point.
Eric McDavid, on the other hand, is a young anarchist who was arrested for committing no action except thoughtcrime. In 2005 he was befriended by a young girl named Anna who apparently shared his passion for taking action in defense of the environment. However, “Anna” was actually a government informant, paid over $65,000 to infiltrate the anarchist and radical environmentalist scenes to entrap people. Anna heavily pressured Eric and two friends, Lauren and Zachary, to take action, and even went as far as to pay for renting a remote cabin in the woods where they could practice making bombs. The cabin was filled with hidden recording devices and cameras, and was funded by the FBI, who also paid for the transportation, bomb materials and provided bomb recipes. When the government felt that they had gathered enough information, they swooped in and arrested Eric, Lauren and Zach. At this point, no actions had been carried out. Lauren and Zach, under pressure from both the state and their families, collaborated with the government, while Eric remained strong and did not. His case went to trial and he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Although jurors in the trial later stated that they didn’t understand the case and didn’t think the trial was fair, all of Eric’s appeals have failed.
These two arrests are just a small part of a broader plan of repression by the U.S. government known by anarchists as “the Green Scare,” an allusion to the Red Scare of the 1950’s in which communists in the United States were harassed, blacklisted and deported. Eco-anarchists and animal rights activists in the U.S. have faced a similar brand of coordinated harassment since 2001, being named the #1 domestic terrorism threat in the United States even though their action, through careful planning and consideration, have never harmed humans or animals. In 2005, the government’s “operation backfire” plan completely ripped apart the underground E.L.F. movement in the northwest United States, and subsequently Eric, Marie and others have been targeted for two apparent purposes: the first being to completely wipe out the E.L.F. in the United States, and the second being to foster a culture of fear and obedience. The state has unfortunately been quite successful in this task, thanks to tactics such as extensive surveillance, infiltration, and clever uses of laws such as the AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law that makes it an act of terrorism to cause financial impact on businesses that profit from animal exploitation), as well as laws against organized crime and conspiracy charges.
We don’t encourage solidarity on the basis of long-term sentences because we believe in a possibility for a reasonable or fair sentence for any prisoner (though both Marie’s and Eric’s 20+ year sentences are well in excess of the sentencing guidelines for their so-called crimes.) We focus on the longevity of their sentences because, whatever the circumstances of their arrest, the government is using these lengthy sentences to send a message, and to scare broadening circles of people into compliance and fear. By locking Eric and Marie up for decades, the state wishes to erase them. If, minimally, once a year, our comrades names are shouted from the rooftops and written on the walls, our enemies will have not fully succeeded in this sinister task. Of course we’re reminded of the absence of our comrades daily, but we hope that this yearly day of solidarity can be a starting point for keeping them the minds of a greater number of people more regularly.
Last year, events and actions occurred in over 30 cities across the U.S. and internationally. The expressions of solidarity were impressive, from a public noise demonstrations and events across the US to fundraiser dinner shows in Israel, and actions of sabotage from as far away as Russia and Peru. (A dossier of actions from last year, as well as information and material for this year are available at http://june11.org).
The heyday of the E.L.F. in the United States is over. We’re moving into a dynamic period of growing social antagonism, and need to make sure that prisoners such as Marie and Eric aren’t left behind or forgotten. Solidarity for them should not be relegated to prisoner support specialists or those who knew them personally – their absence is of importance to all of us, and support for them should be generalized. The struggle to free Marie, Eric and others is the struggle against the society that not only creates and maintains prisons, but also commits the environmental devastation that Marie and Eric raged against.
To other comrades facing or serving long term imprisonment: we send warm greetings to Eat and Billy, undergoing trial in Indonesia for acts of sabotage; imprisoned members of Conspiracy Cells of Fire and Revolutionary Struggle in Greece (some of whom are currently on hunger strike); Billy, Costas and Silvia in Swizerland; Tortuga, Freddy, Marcelo and Juan in Chile and all those implicated in the Caso Bombas; All other non-cooperating Green Scare defendants in the U.S., some of whom are about to be released: Daniel McGowan, Sadie, Exile, Jonathan Paul and the recently re-captured Justin Solondz. These are just a small sampling of cases, but unfortunately we could go on and on. We have no definition for what “long term” imprisonment could mean – every moment the state steals our loved ones away from us is too long.
Organize an event or action on June 11th, this year and every year. Let’s fight together, for the destruction of this prison society and to help remind our comrades they’re never alone!