Four forest activists indicted in firebombing of log trucks
Federal authorities arrested two Portland State University students Tuesday and sought two other logging protesters -- one of them the well-known forest activist Tre Arrow -- in connection with the firebombing of log trucks during last year's protests of the Eagle Creek timber sale.
A four-count indictment was filed Tuesday in Portland's U.S. District Court against Jacob D.B. Sherman, 20; Angela M. Cesario, 23; Jeremy D. Rosenbloom, 25; and Michael J. Scarpitti, 28, better known as Tre Arrow. They were accused of burning three trucks belonging to Ray A. Schoppert Logging Inc. near Estacada.
"I think this is a major first step in investigating eco-terrorism," said Mike Mosman, the U.S. attorney for Oregon.
Mosman said investigators found similarities between the Schoppert arson and the Easter 2001 firebombing of three cement trucks at Portland's Ross Island Sand & Gravel. The Earth Liberation Front, an underground group linked to 36 major eco-terrorist crimes in the United States since 1996 -- including a $12 million arson at the Vail, Colo., ski resort -- claimed responsibility for the Ross Island blaze.
But Mosman did not link those named in Tuesday's indictment with the Earth Liberation Front, which targets enterprises it accuses of harming the natural world. He and other officials called on the public's help in solving the Ross Island arson and at least 11 other unsolved eco-terrorist crimes in Oregon.
"We certainly hope that, in part due to today's event, that people will step forward," Mosman said.
The FBI took Portland State students Sherman and Rosenbloom into custody at their Portland homes early Tuesday and asked for the public's help in locating Cesario and Scarpitti.
"They should surrender themselves," said Charles Mathews, special agent in charge of the FBI for Oregon.
The four activists were opponents of the Eagle Creek timber sale, a logging project in the Mount Hood National Forest, authorities said. Activists spent years protesting the sale, sometimes sitting in elaborate tree platforms and taking part in other civil disobedience.
But in the first hours of June 1, 2001, a firebomb ignited under a truck parked at Schoppert Logging along Oregon 224, destroying that vehicle and damaging two others. Five other crude incendiaries -- made of gallon milk jugs and gasoline -- failed to ignite. No one was injured, but damages reached $50,000.
An official with the Cascadia Forest Alliance, which organized protests at Eagle Creek, declared at the time that the group was not involved. Since then, some in the organization have said the arson seemed to be the work of someone trying to discredit their peaceful activism.
"CFA does not engage in these tactics," volunteer Sarah Wald said Tuesday. "We have a long history of peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience to protect our public lands."
Wald and fellow activist Jessica White said that Sherman, Cesario and Rosenbloom were student forest activists. Wald and White were stunned to learn their friend Tre Arrow had been indicted.
Arrow became a public curiosity in July 2000 when he spent 11 days perched on a ledge outside the U.S. Forest Service headquarters in downtown Portland to call attention to the Eagle Creek cause.
The following November, Arrow captured 15,763 votes in an unsuccessful run against U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. Last October, he drew headlines again when he suffered multiple fractures after falling out of a towering hemlock during logging protests near Nehalem.
Arrow's acquaintances said they have not seen him in recent months and did not know his whereabouts. They remained skeptical about the indictment.
"We'd like to see a public airing of any evidence," White said.
The Portland FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force gathered evidence in the case for more than a year. But Mosman declined Tuesday to comment on the government's evidence against the four.
The federal government canceled the Eagle Creek timber sale last April. News research director Gail Hulden contributed to this report. Bryan Denson: 503-294-7614; email@example.com
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