Humboldt deputies arrest 13 protesters

Earth First! vows further action

Oct. 9, 1998

Press Democrat Staff Writer

For the second straight day Thursday, Humboldt County authorities descended
on Earth First! protesters, used pepper spray and carted activists off to

In all, sheriff's deputies arrested 13 protesters on charges ranging from
trespassing to unlawful assembly, adding to the five apprehended Wednesday
during a law enforcement raid on an encampment of activists in the same

Earth First! vowed Thursday to continue attempts to block a road leading to
the area where activist David Chain died three weeks ago, citing concerns
about the integrity of an investigation into his death. Chain was killed by
a falling redwood while protesting logging by Pacific Lumber Co. near
Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park.

On Thursday morning, nine activists linked themselves together with tubes
made of plastic, metal and concrete into which they placed their arms. They
then lay across the logging road that runs from Highway 36 to the
mountainside where Chain was killed.

More than a dozen officers from the CHP and the Humboldt Sheriff's
Department arrived at the scene at 8:30 a.m.

Officers took the protesters' rain tarp and ground pads and, after waiting
an hour, threatened to use pepper spray if the protesters didn't disperse,
according to Naomi Wagner, an Earth First! member who was present. Officers
then applied pepper spray near the eyes of protester Carrie Liz McKee, one
member in the chain.

"You could hear the screams of pain," Wagner said. "It was an obvious
attempt to torture one person enough to intimidate everyone."

Authorities said they applied the pepper spray according to proposed state
guidelines, with gauze pads dipped in the liquid and placed on the corner
of McKee's closed eyes. They disputed Wagner's account, that officers
poured the spray from the palms of their hands into her eyes on three
occasions in a half-hour.

According to deputies, pepper spray was used only once.

A group of 30 spectators gathered to witness the blockade, Wagner said.
When pepper spraying commenced, 12 of the witnesses linked arms and knelt
on the center line of Highway 36 to show solidarity, she said.

At roughly 10:30 a.m., officers began to cut the clips to protesters' locks
with long-nosed pliers. The first two activists cut from the chain were
taken to jail. Seven others were cited and released.

All nine were charged with conspiracy, trespassing and resisting arrest.

Officers arrested three others who refused to leave when authorities
declared an unlawful assembly at 2:40 p.m.

One activist was arrested earlier in the day for interfering with police.

"This blockade is not over," Wagner said. "Our objectives here are to
protect the crime scene, the scene of the death of David "Gypsy' Chain, and
to stay there until the investigation is complete and justice is
served...and Pacific Lumber ceases illegal logging."

But Pacific Lumber President John Campbell said the company's plans for
sustained-yield logging and protecting endangered species habitats are
under governmental review. Furthermore, lawmakers have agreed to buy the
Headwaters Forest to preserve it.

"I think it's important for the public to understand these issues have been
resolved on the state and federal level and many very thoughtful people
worked on the issues," Campbell said.

The death of Chain, along with Earth First!'s ongoing protests, has
prevented Pacific Lumber from logging and kept eight to 10 employees home
from work for 18 days, Campbell said

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