Street of Dreams: ELF Arson, or Insurance Scheme?

by Will Potter on April 28, 2010

in Terrorism Court Cases

Remember when someone set fire to so-called “green” mansions in a Seattle suburb? The builders of the Street of Dreams rushed to label it “eco-terrorism” by the Earth Liberation Front, and so did the FBI. They pointed to a banner left at the scene that said, “Built green? Nope Black!” At the time I wrote that the crime seemed out of place with other ELF crimes, and questioned why developers and law enforcement were rushing to label it “terrorism.” [For an in-depth look at the case: "Before the Smoke Even Clears in Seattle, Bringing Out the T-Word."]

Recently one of the builders, Grey Lundberg, was charged with sales tax fraud, and more than a dozen counts of first-degree theft. From The Herald:

An arsonist on March 3, 2008, destroyed many of the Street of Dreams homes near Echo Lake, including one built by Lundberg. The fires occurred two months after state officials opened their investigation of Lundberg.

The theft charges filed Thursday do not implicate Lundberg in the Street of Dreams arsons.

Lundberg, then owner of CMI Homes Inc., was widely quoted at the time of the arsons talking about the loss of his company’s $2 million property, a home called the Urban Lodge.

Lundberg hasn’t been convicted of these charges, and even if he is, being convicted of tax fraud doesn’t mean he is guilty of insurance fraud. But it does raise some serious questions about the alleged ELF arson.

More importantly, it is yet another reminder (much like the recent case of Michele Basso) of why the press, law enforcement and politicians shouldn’t be so willing to buy the soundbites of people who have vested interests in labeling activists as terrorists.

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