On Friday, July 7, "freelance" activist Tre Arrow scaled the side of the building that houses the US Forest Service. He vowed to remain until the Forest Service cancels a pending timber sale at Eagle Creek, a serene forest near the Columbia River. But, regardless of the motivation, it's still criminal trespassing.
For more than four years, enviros have bellyached about Eagle Creek but received little more than a passing nod from the general public. Earlier this summer, activists took perches in trees there. When plucked out of the trees by armed guards from the Forest Service, the event passed with little fanfare.
Compare this to Tre, who in a few days has appeared on every major TV station. His act of civil disobedience should teach enviros an important lesson: If a hippie falls in the wood, no one hears it. Public, high-visibility crime pays.
Balancing on the nine-inch ledge, Tre spoke by cell phone with the Mercury about his success. "It's sensationalism," he admitted. Overnight, Tre has become celebrity--perhaps the best poster child for anti-logging since the Spotted Owl. "It's pretty sick, isn't it," he laughs.
But free speech be damned, his protest-in-residence was bugging the building's tenants. In an effort to "86" Tre, the building owners dragged an attorney representing him into court last week. They were trying to secure a temporary restraining order, the same legal device that battered women use to get hot-headed boyfriends off their backs.
On Thursday, July 13, at a hearing to evict Tre, Judge Robert Jones allowed five hours of testimony about clear-cutting and other green what-nots. He listened patiently, although he has no power to tell the Forest Service what to do. Ultimately, Judge Jones ordered the building owners and Tre to negotiate. He told the Forest Service to show up as well, which they did, briefly, before stomping out shortly after negotiations began.
Four days later, even though the Forest Service hadn't budged, Tre left the ledge by his own will. While being taken into custody, he encouraged others to take over buildings.