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> Activists admit forest death
> unintended
>
> Sep. 24, 1998
>
> By MIKE GENIELLA
> Press Democrat Staff Writer
>
> In a seven-page letter to Humboldt County
> authorities, Earth First! attorneys have
> acknowledged that eyewitnesses don't
>believe a
> Pacific Lumber Co. logger deliberately
>felled a
> tree with the intent of killing a
>24-year-old
> activist who had trespassed with them in an
>
> attempt to disrupt a logging operation.
>
> Redway lawyer Jay Moller said Wednesday the
>
> 52-year-old veteran logger, upon seeing
>David
> Chain's body pinned under the fallen
>redwood
> last Thursday, became distraught, fell to
>the
> ground and "begged forgiveness.''
>
> "I do not doubt and none of the
>eyewitnesses
> believe that (the logger) was intending to
>kill
> them,'' Moller said in a letter urging
>Humboldt
> County District Attorney Terry Farmer to
>bring
> in an outside investigator to look into
>Chain's
> death.
>
> Despite the concession that Chain's death
>was
> not the result of a deliberate act, Moller
>and
> Earth First! organizers are mounting a
>campaign
> to get local authorities to prosecute the
>logger, a
> divorced father of two, on charges of
>involuntary
> manslaughter.
>
> Moller, who sat in on investigators'
>interviews
> with seven eyewitnesses at the scene of
>Chain's
> death, said it's clear to him that the
>logger "acted
> contrary to a proper regard for human
>life.''
> Among reasons he cited were the logger's
> obscenity-laced threats to the group of
> trespassers, including a vow to fall trees
>in their
> direction and a declaration that he was
>sorry he
> wasn't carrying a pistol that day.
>
> Moller said an independent investigation
>also
> should extend into Pacific Lumber's role
>into last
> week's "homicide'' and what top managers
>might
> have told company loggers to do when
> confronted by protesters in the woods.
>
> Farmer rejected Moller's request for an
>outside
> investigation Wednesday. "I believe
>sheriff's
> investigators are capable of making a
>thorough
> and impartial analysis of this event,'' he
>said.
>
> Representatives of Gov. Pete Wilson, the
>state's
> timber industry and Pacific Lumber on
> Wednesday denounced environmentalists'
>efforts
> to shift public attention from protest
>tactics,
> which involved "cat-and-mouse'' games with
> loggers in the woods.
>
> Sean Walsh, an aide to Wilson, said the
> governor believes "it's reprehensible to
>take
> young impressionable men and women like
> David Chain and encourage them to go into a
>
> dangerous area like a logging operation and
>
> endanger their lives.''
>
> David Bischel, director of the California
>Forestry
> Association, said it's simply wrong for
>activists to
> encourage young people to trespass and try
>to
> interfere with logging operations.
>
> "Logging is one of the most dangerous
> occupations in the U.S. People with years
>of
> experience are injured and sometimes
>killed.
> Why would you ask young protesters to take
>the
> same kind of risks?'' Bischel said.
>
> Pacific Lumber President John Campbell
> suspended logging operations today in the
>area
> where Chain was killed in recognition of
>his
> burial in Texas and a planned rally by
>activists in
> his honor in downtown Eureka.
>
> "This will be a sad day for everyone,''
>Campbell
> said. "All of us together should use this
>day to
> focus on the tragedy of the few who still
>cling to
> conflict as an end in itself.''
>
> But Sierra Club representatives joined
>longtime
> Earth First! organizers Wednesday in
>defending
> the "cat-and-mouse'' tactic, which the
>radical
> group acknowledges in its direct action
>training
> manual is used because "pure and simple: It
>is
> chaotic.''
>
> Carl Pope of the Sierra Club said he would
>not
> comment on who might be legally responsible
>for
> Chain's death until an investigation is
>complete.
>
> Citing Earth First! practice of giving
>young
> recruits training in nonviolent tactics,
>Pope said
> it's incumbent on timber companies to make
>sure
> their employees properly handle such
>protests to
> "avoid this kind of human tragedy.''
>
> "Don't leave these decisions in the hands
>of
> loggers. They are not the risk managers for
>
> timber companies,'' Pope said.
>
> Pope also said the Wilson administration
>and
> state forestry officials are "morally
>responsible''
> for Chain's death because they fail to
>ensure
> timber harvesting regulations are
>adequately
> enforced, leaving it up to protesters to
>draw
> public attention to destruction of wildlife
>habitat
> and fisheries.
>
> But Pope disagreed with the Earth First!
>call for
> criminal prosecution of the logger.
>
> "I think it would be a great travesty if
>the logger
> is held responsible. The responsibility
>lies with
> the company, and the state,'' he said.
>
> Veteran Earth First! organizer Karen
>Pickett said
> activists don't plan to re-evaluate their
>tactics in
> the woods despite Chain's death, the first
>in
> more than a decade of anti-logging protests
>on
> the North Coast.
>
> "Because of our training of people in
>nonviolent
> tactics before sending them out to the
>woods,
> Earth First! has an unbroken record of
> nonviolent behavior,'' she said.
>
> Pickett said that to prevent further
>tragedies,
> state authorities should re-evaluate their
> enforcement of logging regulations, which
>she
> and other activists contend are routinely
>ignored
> by big timber companies such as Pacific
>Lumber.
>
> She said the company and its supporters are
>
> trying to smear activists, "just like they
>did during
> Redwood Summer and the Judi Bari bombing.
> We are doing what we have always done. It
>is
> Pacific Lumber that has escalated the
>situation.''
>
> Longtime Earth First! organizer Darryl
>Cherney
> said activists are justified in putting the
>blame for
> Chain's death on the logger and Pacific
>Lumber.
>
> "It's like a drunk driver. Of course, the
>driver
> expresses remorse after someone is killed.
>But,
> nevertheless, the driver is at fault.''
>
> But Wilson aide Walsh decried that analogy
>and
> the Sierra Club's support of Earth First!
>tactics.
>
> "It is really a sad commentary when the
>Sierra
> Club joins radical environmentalists in
>stooping
> to such simplistic and nonsensical
>rhetoric,'' he
> said.
>
> Campbell held out hope that today's public
> mourning of Chain would lead to reflection
>in all
> quarters.
>
> "It is my hope that after a day of careful
> reflection, we will all finally be ready to
>give up
> the past so that we can begin working
>together
> for the future of the North Coast,'' he
>said.
>
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> 1998 The Press Democrat
>
>
>
>
>
>
David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644



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