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Earth First! Blockades Site of Activist's Death, Releases Tapes

by Nicholas Wilson
Headwaters Article Index

Call for manslaughter police investigation
Grizzly Creek -- Forest activists today vowed to continue blockading the logging road leading to the place where David "Gypsy" Chain was killed by a felled tree last Thursday. They said they were protecting the evidence at a crime scene, and called for a police investigation consistent with manslaughter caused by gross negligence of a Pacific Lumber Company logger.

David Chain in 1997 treesit Sheriff's investigator Juan Freeman made a statement to the media one day after the death saying his preliminary finding was that the death was accidental. Earth First! released a videotape made shortly before the death which they said proves the logger who felled the fatal tree threatened to shoot them and to fell trees toward them.

Monday morning saw about 60 people gathered at the gate to the logging road to the Pacific Lumber logging operation in Grizzly Creek, according to Earth First! organizer Darryl Cherney. Several people were chained to a junked car placed in the road along with logs and other debris. A sheriff's deputy came, looked at the blockade and left shortly before 9AM, according to Cherney, who called for more supporters and observers to come to the scene. Cherney said activists had renamed the place Gypsy Mountain, and called for permanent preservation of the ancient redwood forest there as a memorial to the fallen activist.

Last year deputies used pepper spray in three instances in which forest activists were locked down in protests. Pepper spray has not been used since nine activists filed a federal civil rights suit against Humboldt County for excessive force. A trial in that suit ended in a hung jury in August. A sheriff's representative testified during that trial that it is still department policy to use pepper spray on locked-down activists.

"An escalation of violence against nonviolent forest defenders"
At a Friday press conference, members of Earth First! also released witness statements and mostly-audio videotape that suggest the say the attitude of the logger who felled the killing tree fits a general pattern of increased violence towards the protesters. Jeremy Jensen, one of the witnesses who was near Chase when he was killed, told reporters "I saw a huge Doug fir coming down and it landed approximately six feet away from me."

The statement signed by Jensen and six other EF! members that were in the forest at the time said loggers were intentionally falling trees in their direction:

...Gypsy's death is not an isolated incident of violence. In the last several months trees have been intentionally fallen at nonviolent activists at the Luna tree sit and in the Mattole watershed in Humboldt county. This is part of an escalation of violence against nonviolent forest defenders in the Northwest and all over the world.

The loggers were aware of our presence as we had engaged them in conversation throughout the day. In fact, the logger that felled the tree which killed our brother Gypsy had repeatedly threatened us with violence and chased us. He also purposely felled other trees in our direction. We never contrived a call and answer system. In truth, we ran for our lives...

A transcript of the videotape was also released, with EF! stating that the logger quoted is man responsible for falling the tree which killed Chain. The full transcript, complete with even more violent obscenities, is available at the Earth First! media site.

EF! narrator Mike McCurdy films logger chasing other activists downhill threatening them, screaming.

LOGGER: "You fuckin' cocksuckers... (inaudible) ... in the trees and let the fuckin' people who don't know what's goin' on go to fuckin' jail. We had patience yesterday. I stopped yesterday!"


EF! member Erik "Ayr" Eisenberg: "We don't want to cause you any problems."

LOGGER: (angrily) You already have! So get out of here! You cocksuckers! I mean it!

EISENBERG: When CDF [California Department of Forestry] comes out here they'll tell you to stop.

LOGGER: When the motherfucker shows up and tells me to stop, I'll stop!

EISENBERG: ...Well, we should give 'em a chance to show up.

Video of logger cursing at activists LOGGER: Why the fuck weren't they here early this morning?


EISENBERG: Because they're in the company's pocket. So now...

LOGGER: (sarcastically) They're in the company's pocket? That's why they're fuckin' with us everyday, yeah?

EISENBERG: They're not fuckin' with you everyday, otherwise they would be out here this morning. That's the thing.

LOGGER: Get outta here! Otherwise I'll fuckin', I'll make sure I got a tree comin' this way!

EISENBERG: Alright, well, let's not talk about that. You know we're not gonna...

LOGGER: (loudly) Cocksucker!


LOGGER: ...I wish I had my fuckin' pistol! I guess I'm gonna just start packin' that motherfucker in here. 'Cause I can only be nice so fuckin' long. Go get my saw, I'm gonna start fallin' into this fuckin' draw!


(Chainsaws revving, cutting)

EF! narrator Mike McCurdy: (breathing heavily as he scrambles up steep hill) They are logging, with people in the area. There's a tree falling. There are people in the area. Only a few minutes after I saw the irate logger threatening to hurt people. I retreated from him... Here's some more fresh cut. As you can see this is a very fucking steep slope. I can barely climb up it... making it extremely dangerous for an activist or logger up here.


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Albion Monitor September 21, 1998 (

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