Image above: Political prisoner Marius Mason
Every year for the past 15 years, we focus our attention and solidarity on long-term anarchist prisoners on June 11th. Regardless of the level of movement activity and the pendulum of public opinion, which can swing depending on the moment, we cannot forget those who have paid a heavy toll, sacrificing their freedom for their targeted direct actions.
Those of us outside of the prison walls can do more than remember their courage. We can write letters and send books to prisoners; raise funds for their commissary costs and to help them reestablish themselves when they are free; and talk to people we know about the reality that none of these activists harmed or injured another living being as a result of their actions. Because property is considered more important in this society than bringing attention to the looming climate crisis, non-human suffering, and other injustices, those who carry out direct action are unjustly criminalized and often spend more time in prison than perpetrators of rape and murder.
“It’s clear the label of ‘terrorist’ will continue to be thrown around by the State and corporations who are losing the moral battle in the court of public opinion and desperately hope to cling to their obscene profit margins while destroying the planet and our communities,” said Lauren Regan, CLDC Executive Director & Senior Staff Attorney. Lauren helped defend Jeff “Free” Luers, who was the first Green Scare defendant to be prosecuted and imprisoned.
In February 2014, Jeff Luers wrote the following:
“In June 2000, I along with Craig Critter Marshall set fire to 3 vehicles at a Eugene car dealership in an effort to call attention to climate change. Unbeknownst to us I was currently under investigation and surveillance by the same counter terrorist unit that years later would be responsible for operation backfire. As a result, we were arrested and after a year of court battles Critter was sentenced to 5.5 years and I received a sentence of 22 years and 8 months.
Across the country and the world people expressed outrage that a young idealistic youth was to serve more time in prison than he had been alive for an action that harmed no one. In the years that followed that outrage would take shape in the form of the international day of solidarity with Jeff Luers and all eco-prisoners.
The majority of my incarceration was spent defending my actions to a skeptical public and media all the while being punished by the state for my articulate defense of direct action.
It was through this media campaign and the amazing work of my support group that my support network began to grow. Before my second year was finished Critter and I had been added to the list of political prisoners being supported by the Jericho Movement, ABCF, and numerous other prisoner support groups. We were among the first eco-prisoners in the US to be accepted in radical circles as political prisoners.
On June 11 2004, after years of networking and public outreach, the first international day of solidarity with Jeffrey Free Luers and all eco-prisoners was held. The event quickly drew the fury of the state and the FBI issued an unprecedented national security alert warning of imminent eco-terrorist attacks across the nation. News headlines for a week warned of the attacks, showing my picture along with the eco-terrorist caption.
In the years that followed June 11 came to be a rallying cry for social and environmental justice movements the world over to protect our planet and to demand that those that have sacrificed their freedom doing so be recognized as political prisoners and not terrorists. I have spent the years of my life since my conviction combating the application of the terrorist label to activists and eco-activists in particular.
As an anarchist and a veteran activist who spent 9.5 years of my life in prison because I fought to protect an imperiled planet, I humbly ask that we remember that June 11 is about gaining political recognition for eco-prisoners and their struggles.”
In honor of June 11th, the CLDC requests that our movement pay respect to Marius Mason, a currently incarcerated political prisoner who needs your support. Marius Mason, who CLDC provided legal support for during his Green Scare prosecution, is an anarchist, labor, environmental, and animal rights activist currently serving nearly 22 years in federal prison for acts of property damage carried out in defense of the planet. You can learn more about Marius and how to support him at: https://supportmariusmason.org/.