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27 Arrested for Erecting Anti-Logging Blockade in Oregon

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The blockade in the Elliott State Forest began on Monday and continued until yesterday, when the last of the protesters were arrested. The activists were blocking access to a timber sale on seventy-nine acres of forest land. They say logging practices in the Elliot are damaging old-growth forests and endangering spotted owls. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to yet another protest. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. Well, in Oregon, twenty-seven people have been arrested for erecting an anti-logging blockade in the Elliott State Forest. The blockade began on Monday and continued until yesterday, when the last of the protesters were arrested. The activists were blocking access to a timber sale on seventy-nine acres of forest land. They say logging practices in the Elliott are damaging old-growth forests and endangering spotted owls.

For more, we’re joined on the line by Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky. She’s an activist with Cascadia Rising Tide, one of the groups that took part in the blockade.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

JASMINE ZIMMER-STUCKY: Hello. How are you all doing?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Tell us what happened.

JASMINE ZIMMER-STUCKY: Well, early Monday morning, both Cascadia Rising Tide and Earth First! put up this blockade as the culmination of the annual Earth First! Round River Rendezvous, which was held in Oregon at the Umpqua National Forest.

The blockade was intended to block access to the active timber sale in the Elliott State Forest, which means that each day we were there, we turned away loggers from cutting this native forest land, which means it was burned by — naturally in 1868, but was allowed to rejuvenate and is on its way to becoming an old-growth forest and is habitat for the endangered species, the spotted owls and marbled murrelet and the coastal Coho salmon.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about the response and the level of community support you have? And also, just as you were listening, talking about this major protest on Mount Rushmore, urging President Obama to stop global warming, how you see your protest on the south-central Oregon coast to be related to these bigger issues, Jasmine?

JASMINE ZIMMER-STUCKY: We did get a lot of community support from this. The Elliott State Forest is something that’s continually hit every year, harder and harder, as we lose funding for things like public schools.

In terms of what Obama is doing for climate change, in Oregon forests — like, Pacific Northwest forests store more carbon per acre than any other forest in the world. And we know that, according to NASA, deforestation is the second leading cause of climate change, so we really see the importance in protecting these amazing carbon reserves in Oregon and other places in the Pacific Northwest.

And right now the direction that we’re going, and we continue to go, is liquidating our forests, turning them into tree plantations on short rotation cycles, you know, forty to sixty years, which isn’t good for carbon storage. It’s not good for creating a sustainable economy. It’s just not where we need to be going right now.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And when the police moved in, what were you actually charged with? And have you already — is everyone already out?

JASMINE ZIMMER-STUCKY: There are still four people in jail. There’s a bunch of different blockade structures, and so various degrees of, you know, extraction. People — there are people locked down, so people in barrels, around gates, the main access point, and to a tipped-over van.

Let’s see, the twenty-three people who were arrested two days ago, they were all released yesterday, and they have various charges: interfering with an agricultural operation, criminal trespass and criminal mischief. Those are the three main ones.

The people — we had four people aerially suspended through what’s called a sky pod, a tripod and a bipod, and then a tree-sit and a platform. Those four people were also charged with various degrees of criminal mischief, trespassing and interfering with an agricultural operation.

The blockade was really impressive. I’ll describe it for you. If you were going to come up along the road, the first thing you’d see is this massive fortress made of brush that was collected from the forest. It was about fifteen feet tall and spanned the entire length of the road. And just behind that was a vehicle, a large van, that had been tipped over on its side with people locked down inside of it. On the other side of that would be a gate, which was the main access point to the logging site, with multiple people locked down around the gate on the ground. And every anchor for the people up in the pods, those four people, was connected to the gate, so if that gate were to be opened, they would be all, obviously, severely injured. It was a very impressive structure. It took them, you know, multiple engineers, multiple days to figure out how to get the people in the pods out. We still haven’t had contact with them yet. They’re still in — we hope that they’ll be released later today.

AMY GOODMAN: Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, I want to thank you very much for being with us, activist with Cascadia Rising Tide, twenty-seven people arrested in that anti-logging protest in Oregon.

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