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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Forum: Government targeting enviromentalists, activists”

    Students and community members concerned about displays of protest being considered terrorism gathered Saturday with other Tucson residents for an event called “”Resist the Green Scare.””

    The forum was intended to inform students and Tucson residents about the government’s targeting of environmentalists, a threat they are referring to as the “”Green Scare.””

    The Green Scare is an allusion to the blacklisting of Socialist extremists during the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s, said Jessica Lee, an organizer of “”Resist the Green Scare.””

    Few students are aware of the government’s recent attention to environmental extremism that has resulted in several arrests – including the 2001 conviction of Jeffrey Luers, who was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison after setting fire to three sport utility vehicles.

    In January, FBI director Robert Mueller said in a press release: “”Investigating and preventing animal rights and environmental extremism is one of the FBI’s highest domestic priorities.””

    Members of the group are concerned that the government’s use of words such as “”eco-terrorism”” to describe environmental actions to spread awareness are giving people the wrong idea about the group’s intentions.

    “”Labeling people in action takes away the point they are making. You hear the word terrorist and you disregard what they stand for,”” said Wendy Van Leuveren, a women’s studies junior.

    But after terrorism was redefined under the Patriot Act to include activities that appear to be intended “”to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion,”” environmental extremism is now considered a form of domestic terrorism by the government.

    According to the FBI Web site, “”These extremists have used arson, harassment, death threats, animal releases and razor blade threat letters to intimidate individuals and businesses they perceive to be abusive to animals or destructive to the environment.””

    Students like B.J. Dennard, a sociology junior, agree with the FBI’s reasoning for classifying these actions as domestic terrorism.

    “”This does fit in with terrorism, that is something a terrorist would do,”” Dennard said.

    But organizers say they agree that the crime should be punished, but their sentencing is too severe.

    “”It’s not about the government going after the crime – these people did do property damage – it’s about the government repressing a movement that is threatening to corporations,”” said Lee, a UA alumna.

    Lee said environmentalists would prefer to use nonviolent actions to raise awareness, but many of these movements’ activists think the matters are so pressing they require immediate action.

    Geoffrey White, a pre-business senior, disagreed with Dennard about classifying these actions as terrorism.

    “”Each action has to be considered individually for its goals and methods,”” White said. “”I agree with actions that promote education, further awareness and ones that try to promote possible change whether that change is already accepted or radical.””

    Many students remain unsure about supporting environmental issues such as the “”Green Scare”” because they think it will take extreme conditions for these movements to be successful.

    “”Problems like population growth and running out of nonrenewable resources will never be solved,”” said Brenna Durkin, a sociology senior.

    Extreme conditions would have to be present to get enough people to make beneficial changes, said Jessica Buser, a UA alumna. Students and community members already concerned about the “”Green Scare”” don’t give up so easily.

    “”As long as the FBI is arresting people in the community, and friends of ours, we will be reaching out to the community,”” said Jeff Davis, an organizer for “”Resist the Green Scare.””

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