June 6th a Eugene based newspaper, The Register Guard, reported that a man who
killed a woman while driving drunk received a 10 year jail sentence. The man was
given the sentence because the judge saw him as having no concern for the lives
or well being of the other drivers on the road.
Six days later, the same
newspaper reported that my friend Jeffrey Luers, also known as Free, had been
sentenced to 22 years and 8 months for causing a few thousand dollars worth of
fire damage to some sport utility vehicles. This disparity in sentencing is one
we should expect from a society whose values are so predominantly capital-centric.
Even though the judge admitted that Free had taken precaution against harming
people, the value of those trucks has become more important than the value of
life itself. Free is now 22 years old. He will spend more time in jail than he
has already spent on earth.
The fire Free was convicted of setting was
an act of compassion. The gas guzzling monstrosities known as SUV's slaughter
more animals each year than the fur industry, emit fumes that harm the well being
of plants and animals alike, and take us further down the path of a world without
green spaces. As forests, grasslands, and other wild areas fall to make more room
for parking lots and freeways, is it any wonder that people are beginning to attack
the auto industry?
I've known Free for about 4 years. In that time I have
seen him do amazing things. His dedication to the protection of wilderness is
almost without peer. He has lived much of the time I have known him outdoors,
constantly protecting forests and the animals that live in them. When ever we
saw each other he would tell me about his latest arrest, jail time, or the harassment
he was undergoing for his beliefs and actions. It seemed like it was never ending,
but he never stopped. Even from behind bars he has stood strong and continued
to urge others to go on the offensive for mother earth.
I know for sure
that even if Free serves every day of his nearly 23 year sentence he will get
out and continue fighting. He values life too much to ever give in and become
part of a culture gone mad. While he is stripped of his freedom, it is up to us
to continue fighting. His sentence cannot become a deterrent to us. If we quit
protecting animals, wilderness, and each other out of fear of reprisal then we
are cowards. Let Free's bravery stand as a testament to how hard our common will
is to break. Don't give up, and dedicate your next victory to Free.
Jeff "Free" Luers was sent to the Two Rivers Correctional Facility in
Eastern Oregon to serve his nearly 23 year sentence. An appeal is being filed,
but until then, letters of support, checks or money orders for commissary (envelopes,
paper, stamps, fruit, etc.) publication subscriptions and other reading materials
(direct from the publisher or amazon.com) can be sent to:
Two Rivers Correctional Facility
Umatilla, OR 97882 USA
be aware that he has been assigned "Threat Group" status, so BE SMART
about what you send! If you are unsure if what you want to send may be damaging
to him, you can send it to PO Box 50263, Eugene, OR 97405, and his close friends
will 'screen' it for him.)
Don't forget to include your name and return
address on the envelope AND the letter, as he will only receive the letter. Letters
must be written on clean paper with ball-point ink or typed. He is allowed to
receive xeroxed material if it isn't copyrighted, color xerox art and photographs.