FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 14, 2005
Chuk’shon Earth First! Statement in Support of No More Deaths Volunteers

Contact: Ben Pachano, 884-0283

Yesterday afternoon, a federal court found two Earth First! activists guilty of conspiracy to interfere with federal officials—a felony—as well as two misdemeanors. Their supposed crime was attempting to save the lives of mountain lions who were being hunted in a joint effort of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and US Forest Service.

We live in a culture whose values are profoundly screwed up. We live in a country where people are prosecuted for trying to save lives. And let’s be clear: “Prosecuted” is just a fancy way of saying that the government wants to put people in a cage – just like they do to mountain lions, just like they do to the migrants they round up in the desert and transfer to “detention facilities.”

Earth First! believes in the sanctity of life, and we proudly proclaim that saving lives should never be a crime. And when the government makes it one, those laws should be broken over and over again until the whole sick, twisted system is forced to change. For this reason and many others, we are proud to stand in support of Shanti Sellz, Daniel Strauss and the No More Deaths campaign.

The prosecutions here in Tucson are not occurring in a vacuum. Last week, the FBI arrested six environmental activists across the country in a series of surprise raids, and is charging them with various acts of property damage in defense of Mother Earth. The government is making a concerted effort to intimidate and jail all those who challenge the demented equation that values property and law above life itself.

The government would like nothing better than for us to distance ourselves from those who put their freedom on the line to save lives. That’s why it’s more important than ever for those of us who value the sanctity of life to stick together and support each other, to not let them divide us with petty disagreements or fears.

Earth First! is proud to embrace Shanti and Daniel as our sisters and brothers in the struggle, and they can count on our support.
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Posted in Uncategorized, Sabino 4 Trial | No Comments »
Sabino Defendants “Guilty” According to Jury
December 13th, 2005

The jury’s verdict came back this afternoon guilty on all three charges for both defendants (Rod Coronado and Matt Crozier). Specifically, Rod and Matt were found guilty in federal court of:

Felony conspiracy to interfere with or injure a government official (max 7 years)

Misdemeanor interference with or injury to a forest officer (max 6 months)

Misdemeanor “depredation” (theft or destruction or the attempt to do so) of government property (max 1 year).

Remember, all three charges relate to an Earth First! campaign to prevent mountain lions from being captured or killed by hunters in Tucson, Arizona in March 2004. For details about the trial, including the way the prosecution alleged that using the media as part of a campaign now constitutes “conspiracy and intimidation,” see below. In the next few weeks, we will release a statement about the political ramifications of this trial and what it means for direct-action organizers around the country.

The prosecution asked that Rod be taken into immediate custody, but the judge denied the request. However, the prosecution might still file an official motion to that effect.

As of now, both Rod and Matt will remain free until their March 8, 2006 sentencing. They have expressed thanks for all the support they’ve received so far from the community. As more information becomes available about ways that you can support Rod and Matt, we will let you know.

Obviously, this is a serious blow to us personally and organizationally. Nonetheless, while we may be reassessing some of our specific strategies in light of this conviction, our commitment to defending Arizona’s wildlife with effective direct action will not change.

We also want to remind everyone that Sabino the mountain lion remains caged for life, and she was never given the “courtesy” of a trial. Chuk’shon EF! has never denied involvement in attempting to save Sabino Canyon mountain lions from hunters, nor are we regretful or ashamed. When wildlife has no one but us to defend them, we will continue to put our bodies on the line.

For more information, contact Chuk’shon Earth First! at sabthebastards (a) hotmail.com.

Till All Are Free,
Chuk’shon EF!
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Posted in Mountain Lions, Tucson, Sabino 4 Trial | No Comments »
Trial Update: Closing Arguments and Jury Deliberation
December 13th, 2005

from  http://arizona.indymedia.org/news/2005/12/33922.php

Sabino Canyon Trial Update: Day 4, Monday December 12, 2005
by Arizona Indymedia Tuesday December 13, 2005 at 10:24 AM

The case of U.S. v Coronado and Crozier was given to the jury late Monday afternoon after the prosecution brought two additional witnesses to testify. In the closing arguments, the government presented an emotional argument to the jury about the danger of mountain lions how the defendants and Esquire writer John Richardson trampled on free speech, by crossing the line between free expression and criminal behavior. The two defense attorneys argued that the government never proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Coronado and Crozier are guilty of any of the three charges. One responded directly to the government’s free speech argument by saying, “The principle to get information to the media is a very important part of democracy, and when the government says that’s a criminal objective, we have got a problem.” The jury is expected to return with a verdict Tuesday.

Tuesday morning saw the conclusion of testimony and evidence presentation for the Sabino Canyon mountain lion case. The prosecution finished with Special Agent Doak Malik and defense cross-examined. Crozier’s attorney, Sean Bruner, spent some time going over the notes take by Malik and his partner, during their interrogation of Matt Crozier. Agent Malik first made it clear that he preferred the word “interview,” and that it was FBI policy to not tape-record the interviews they had with suspects. Bruner pointed out to Agent Malik that in the notes of his partner, Agent Nowak, there are a few mentions of the ground sensor, and a line that said, “Damaging the sensor was a spur-of-the-moment decision.” Bruner also pointed out that under the word “sensor,” the word “snare” was written, in someone else’s handwriting.

“Could this be your handwriting, Agent Malik?” “It could be mine.” “Isn’t it true, Agent Malik, that after finding that the sensor was not federal property and the snare was, you added, “snare” to your notes and report as an afterthought?” Agent Malik refused to admit this. “Isn’t it true that you’re taught [In FBI training] not to use a tape recorder because then the jury in cases like this could hear what the defendants ACTUALLY said, rather than the agent’s version of what they said?” Agent Malik also failed to agree with this, and offered some explanations about working collaboratively with his partner.

The next witness was Greg Lilo, Arizona Game and Fish officer, who described apprehending reporter John H. Richardson in the canyon. Lilo found the broken sensor, and the snare, but upon cross-examination was unable to say for sure whether the snare had actually been damaged, only that it was ‘disassembled’ and moved from what he understood to be its original place.

The final witness was Kristi Kath, who runs a business called Tucson Media Monitoring, which records all local TV news and public affairs broadcasts, and provides copies of this material for a fee. In April 2004 prosecutors asked for copies of all news broadcasts the included the defendant Rod Coronado around the time of the Sabino Canyon incident in March. She found 20 stories, and the prosecutors played 2 for the jury.

After the last witness the jury was excused for lunch and the defense made motions to dismiss all charges for lack of evidence but the judge overruled. After the break the case exploded into a debate on first amendment rights when all three lawyers spent a considerable portion of their closing arguments on John Richardson’s recording, Earth First!’s tactics of submitting video material to the media, and Rod Coronado’s statements to the media before, during, and after the hunt.

In his closing statement, Government prosecutor Wallace Kleindienst accused defendants Coronado and Crozier, as well as John Richardson of “trampling on free speech” because part of their criminal agenda was to “manipulate the news media” and to “interfere with the truth.” At least two-thirds of Kleindienst’s closing argument was about the Richardson tape, notes that he made into an audio recorder when he was accompanying Earth First! in Sabino Canyon. The tape had been introduced as evidence Friday, after a 45-minute controversial discussion on Thursday afternoon, after the jury was dismissed, about whether the tape could be used. Kleindienst argued that the Richardson tape was “the smoking gun” in the case.

Kleindienst asserted that Richardson was a “co-conspirator” in the case because of his actions in Sabino Canyon. Many were very concerned that due to this argument the Richardson tapes could be introduced, especially since the government has not charged Richardson with conspiracy. Kleindienst went so far as to say that, “the tapes [Richardson’s and Coronado’s video footage] would hang them.”

Defense Attorney Bruner responded to the government’s arguments by saying that the Richardson tapes “are audio notes by a journalist,” pointing out that when FBI special agent Doak Malik refered to the Richardson tapes as “audio notes” in his witness testimony, Kleindienst immediately corrected him saying, “don’t call them that, unless Richardson called them that.”

Tony Felix, representing Coronado, said in his closing comments that he was troubled that the case had turned into an argument about whether or not Sabino Canyon should have been closed and a First Amendment case. “The principal to get information to the media is part of democracy, and when the Government says that’s a criminal objective, we’ve got problems,” Felix said.

Bruner spent the majority of his time detailing how Crozier had not been proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” that he was guilty of any of the three charges. He also reiterated that in the FBI notes the word “snare” had been added to the notes under the word “sensor” in a different person’s handwriting. He pointed out that if the snare was damaged, than why did the Government not introduce it as evidence, or even ask Sam Derringer, the man hired to hunt the lions and who owned and set the traps, about the nature of the damaged traps. (Later Kleindienst, in his rebuttal, responded that if the Defense was concerned about the condition of the snare, why didn’t they ask Derringer in their cross-examination?)

In his closing arguments, Felix criticized the Government’s strategy, saying that their goal was to get the jury “on the emotional side of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD),” and that he believed that many of the Government’s witnesses were called up to give testimony for this purpose. He pointed out the contradictions in the testimonies of the helicopter pilot, Mike Brinkworth and John Romero (AGFD law enforcement officer) about how many people were involved in “digging.”

Both defense attorneys stressed the fact that the hunt was being run by AGFD, not a federal entity, thus the Earth First! activists could not have interfered with or injured a federal official (or his/her property).

Approximately 20 supporters of Crozier and Coronado were present in the courtroom.

The jury is expected to return with a verdict Tuesday.