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Circus of Solidarity for Eco-Prisoners

The International Day of Solidarity with Eco-Prisoners is June 11, and in Eugene the event will be marked with a circus of sorts at the Wayne Morse U.S. Courthouse. Last year the day was celebrated in 30 cities around the world, according to Eugene’s Civil Liberties Defense Center. Organizers say there will be jugglers, fire-breathers, stilts, music, clowns and other performers.

June 11 started as the international day of solidarity with Jeff “Free” Luers and all eco-prisoners, Luers himself says. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison for burning three SUVs at a Eugene car dealership in 2000. No one was injured in the fire. The sentence was much harsher than those imposed on other arsonists whose crimes were not politically or ecologically motivated. 

Luers and the CLDC fought for, and won, a reduction in his sentence. He was released from prison in December 2009.

Luers says, “Sadly, I was not among the last to go to prison for such radical actions. June 11 is now about Marie Mason and my friend Eric McDavid.” He says McDavid is serving 19 years in prison as a convicted domestic terrorist “for something that never happened, in which the jury themselves said they didn’t want to convict but felt that the judge had given them no choice.” 

Mason was sentenced to 22 years for her involvement in the burning of an office connected to genetically modified organism research and the destruction of a piece of logging equipment. 

The event will be a circus “because the idea of justice in this country is a joke. Look at the recent Occupy uprising, people feel that injustice and inequality viscerally,” Luers says. He adds the event “is a mockery of a court that dare dignifies itself with the word ‘justice’ when so much of what has come from it has been injustice.”

Luers says events such as these do have an impact on prisoners, “And it had an impact on the people holding me too. Both positive and negative. I had guards that came in and tell me they saw my case and the protests on the news. They told my they thought I got a raw deal.”

For more on the International Day of Solidarity with Eco-Prisoners go to cldc.org