Earth Liberation Front Press Office Returns, Issues Warning to Obama

by Will Potter on November 24, 2008

in Activism & Activists' Response

Earth Liberation Front arson at Vail ski resort.

Earth Liberation Front arson at Vail ski resort.

I was outside the White House on election night, and I don’t know if I can accurately describe how surreal it felt. I left work at about two in the morning with a friend and we saw hundreds, if not thousands, of people moving down 16th Street to the White House. Along the way folks hugged strangers, couples danced on cars. The crowd at the White House was the most diverse I have ever seen at a protest/gathering/whatever-you-would-call-this. Fratish guys from GWU joined students from Howard in chanting “Pack yo shit up” and “Whose house? Obama’s house!” We stayed until about four in the morning. I don’t think anybody wanted to leave that celebration… for me, it was because that energy was a temporary relief from a constantly present question: Will this change anything?

There’s no question that Barack Obama is drastically different than Emperor Palpatine and his wingnut accomplice. But I’m concerned that so many people seem to view his election as the end of a struggle, rather than a beginning. At best, I think Obama should be used as a vehicle for change, as a more receptive audience for the voices of mass movements. He should be viewed with the same criticism and skepticism as any president, as anyone in any position of power.

Standing out in the freezing cold, I really wanted to suspend my own doubts and just enjoy this victory, this step in the right direction. Then a large group of young people began chanting “USA! USA!” and I quickly snapped back into reality and wondered: Is this how we are going to respond?

It’s clear that the mainstream environmental and animal protection movements have a substantially different political landscape for their legislative and legal efforts. They will respond to this new Congress and new administration by ramping up their efforts, and are expecting a friendly response.

And the radical environmental movement? After all, Obama has been critical of “eco-terrorist” scare-mongering and legislation. How will underground groups respond to his presidency? It looks like they’re ramping up their efforts as well.

The Earth Liberation Front Press Office has reopened after a hiatus of several years. The press office is the legal, above-ground organization that speaks out on behalf of the tactics of illegal activists. Press officers use their First Amendment rights to defend activists who, because of their conduct, can’t speak for themselves.

The office first opened in 2000. Taking such an open, public stance on illegal tactics quickly made Craig Rosebraugh and Leslie James Pickering targets of the FBI… who hadn’t been able to catch anyone actually committing crimes, so they went after people simply using their First Amendment rights. The FBI tried relentlessly to tie Rosebraugh and Pickering to illegal activity, to no avail. [Check out Rosebraugh’s Congressional testimony here]. For a variety of reasons the press office closed in 2002 (for a more detailed account, check out “Earth Liberation Front: 1997-2002” and “Burning Rage of a Dying Planet”).

There’ll be much more here on the ELF Press Office in coming months, but first up I wanted to highlight their press release on the presidential election, “Earth Liberation Front Press Office to New Obama Administration: Protect the environment or the ELF will.”

“The incoming Obama Administration’s plan for the environment, or lack thereof, may very well influence the activities of the Earth Liberation Front throughout the next four years,” stated Lisa Nesbitt, one of four new press officers for the NAELFPO. “The $150 million in damages caused by the ELF in the last decade to environmentally destructive corporations was, in part, a direct response to the refusal of the U.S. Government to take necessary measures to stop environmental destruction…

“The U.S. Government has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, refused to permanently protect the Artic [sic] National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), refused to stop the logging of national forests, and refused to heighten the Energy Act standards for light cars, trucks and commercial vehicles – the greatest contributor to global warming,” Nesbitt continued. “We have one message for the incoming Obama Administration: act to protect the environment or the ELF will.”

What do you all think about the decision to reopen the ELF Press Office? And what do you think it reflects about this larger “Green Scare”?

Previous post:

Next post: