Headwaters Forest Video Available

catherine yronwode cat at luckymojo.com
Fri Oct 3 15:24:28 EST 1997


Don Staples wrote:
> 
> Scott Nudds wrote:
> >
> > (Al Stangenberger) wrote:
> 
> > : Several years ago a sawmill worker in Cloverdale, CA was 
> > : severely injured when the mill's band-saw shattered.
> > : As I recall, the cause was a spiked redwood log.
> >
> >   Was it his decision to cut the log?  Or is he not taking
> > personal responsibility for his own actions?
> >
> >   Undoubtedly if the log was spiked, it was from an area where the
> > spiking had been announced.  If the cutter is not informed then 
> > the logging company is guilty of fraud.
>
> Rather curious on who would announce thay had performed a criminal 
> act, and if they did so announce, did they step forward after the 
> injury and announce their guilt?  Sabotage for environmental reasons 
> is still sabotage, when injuries or death occure, the charges 
> escalate.  The ends do not justify the means, particularly under the 
> circumstances of the spiking.

We have been through this incident before. 

Here are the facts. I have actually taken some time to research this
because i am disgusted with the way it is being played back so
inaccurately in this newsgroup.  

The incident occurred in May 1987 at the Louisiana-Pacific mill in
Cloverdale, California. (Note: Louisiana-Pacific (LP) is NOT the same as
Pacific Lumber (PL) -- now a branch of Maxxam -- that owns and is
threatening to clearcut Headwaters Forest.) The victim's name was George
Alexander. The log was a "baby tree," not old-growth. 

The following excerpts are DIRECT QUOTES from an article that ran in the
local Anderson Valley Advertiser newspaper in 1993. The author was Judi
Bari. 

------- begin quoted material -----

[introductory paragraphs skipped]

"I was the perfect victim...I was nobody" [said] George Anderson...the
son of an old-time Willits [California] logger...23 and just
married,...George's job was...off-bearer.. The off-bearer operates a
huge band-saw that makes the first rough cuts on the logs as they come
into the mill...Off-bearer is one of the most dangerous jobs in the
mill. The saw was sized for old growth logs -- 52 feet around with a 10
inch blade. "That saw was so powerful that when you turned it off you
could make three more cuts through a 20-foot log before the saw
stopped," George told me. 

L-P management had earned [George's] disrespect long ago through the
callous way it treats its employees. "We're not even people to hem," he
said. "All they care about is production." ...[examples of
management-labour antagonism over safety issues skipped]

In the weeks preceeding the tree-spiking incident, conditions had gotten
even worse than usual. Cracks had begun appearing in the band saw blade,
and the blade was wobbling when it ran. But when George and other
workers complained, foreman Dick Edwards shined them on, saying the new
blades were not in yet, and they would have to make do. "That blade was
getting so bad," said George, that I almost didn't go to work that day." 

Normally when a big tree is sawed, they start from the outside and
square off the edges first. But the tree that George was sawing...was a
12-inch pecker pole, and because it was so small he took the first cut
down the middle. Halfway through the 20-foot log, the saw hit a 60-penny
nail. [i'm gonna compress details here: the nail was countersunk, George
had checked the log before sawing, and because he took the cut right
down the middle, it hit the nail square-on, giving no warning sound...]

The next thing he knew, George was lying on the floor covered with his
own blood. "I knew I was dying. And all I could think about was Dick
Edwards [the foreman who had refused to replace the blade] and all the
shit he gave me when I complained about the saw. I tried to get up but
they pushed me back down. I tried to beckon to Edwards so he would come
close enough for me to get my hands around his throat in a death grip.
If I had to die, I wanted to take that bastard with me." 

[Here i will compress several paragraphs: A co-worker named Rick
Phillips held George's veins closed for half an hour while the saw blade
was blow-torched off of him. After the incident L-P blamed Earth First.
>From his hospital bed George Alexander told newspaper and television
reporters that he was solidly against clear-cutting the redwoods and
that this had been a mill-safety issue. but only one newspaper mentioned
that -- instead they focussed on Earth First and tree spiking. George's
wife Laurie Alexander told reporters that she blamed L-P for the
accident; no newspapers reported that. Earth First denied involvement,
but had been known to advocate tree-spiking, which made them morally if
not physically complicit.] 

...Did EF! spike that tree? The answer is probably no. Back in 1987, EF!
was just getting started in Mendocino County, and the only issue at the
time was old-growth....the spiked tree was only 12-inches in diameter.
[This was not an ancient redwood or even an old redwood or a middle-aged
redwood. I have bigger redwoods growing in my front yard!!!] L-P traced
the spiked tree to a cut on Cameron Ridge Road near Elk, where neighbors
had been complaining about L-P liquidating the forest and threatening
their water supply. One of the local residents was a strange man who
drifted in and out of the area... described by neighbors as a
survivalist. Before the...incident... loggers reported finding mutilated
animals around the site -- a beheaded deer hanging from a tree, a
skinned dog draped over a bulldozer -- hardly Earth First! tactics. 

[Dave Foreman, an Earth First supporter, said], 'There is also reason to
believe that the tree was not spiked at Cameron Road at all, but rather
was hit while lying on a log deck after it was cut.' [His reasoning,
which i am compressing here, is that the spike would have been 10 feet
off the ground on the standing tree -- too high for one man to drive,
too low for two people to drive if one stood on the other's shoulders.]

[While in the hospital, Georege was approached by a woman who] asked him
to go on tour with her denouncing Earth First! for the tree-spiking. And
George refused....He was forced to return to work at L-P before his
injuries were even healed....[L-P] made a big public show of putting up
a $20,000 reword for information leading to the conviction of the
spiker. But George Alexander had to file a private lawsuit against L-P
to get anything at all...in private they were fighting him tooth and
nail over his damage claim. He ended up with just $9,000 and an
involuntary transfer to night shift. "They used my name all over the
country," George told me. "Then they laid me off when the mill closed
down."

----- end quoted material -----

George Alexander never blamed Earth First for the spiking. As he lay in
his own blood, near death, his only wish was to kill Dick Edwards, the
mill foreman who had refused to replace the cracked saw blade and had
forced him to operate faulty equipment that day. 

The spiking was never traced to an Earth First member. Earth First was
only involved in trying to save old-growth trees at that time. This was
definitely not an old-growth tree. 

In 1993, as a result of this incident, and in expression of solidarity
with loggers and mill workers, Northern California Earth First and
Southern Oregon Earth First formally renounced tree spiking as a tactic. 

In another 1993 article published in the Anderson Valley Advertiser,
Judi Bari of Earth First referred to tree-spiking as "a failed tactic"
and gave numerous examples of tree-spiking in Oregon and Washington that
did not save any trees. She recounted how the breakage of saw blades
(without worker injury) in Washington in 1987-1989 led to public charges
of terorism and sabotage. Public entiment turned against tree-spiking
and Earth First members in those regions were rendered less effective as
environmental activists due to their association with tree-spiking. 

In this second article, Bari took Dave Foreman, a noted proponent of
tree-spiking, to task for never having visitied the inside of a sawmill.
She opined that spiking will not stop corporate bosses from logging
because they don't care about worker safety all that much anyway and she
cited the case of George Alexander as evidence of that.

So, to Mark Shippey, who has repeatedly posted here his belief that
Earth First still endorses tree-spiking, here is a rebuttal, in Judi
Bari's words from 1993: "Those of us who are out on the front lines
putting our bodies in front of the bulldozers and chainsaws can't afford
to be isolated and discredited by something as ineffective and
incendiary as tree-spking. If we are serious about putting the Earth
first, we need to choose tactics because they work, not because they are
romantic or macho." 

I hope that this settles the issue...

I am not a member of Earth First, by the way. 

Oh, the non-violent civil disobedience actions at Headwaters Forest are
continuing. Not much has been reported in the national news, but folks
are still being arrested for trying to block the logging roads. I'm not
up there, so i don't have details, but my friend Kay, who co-made the
Headwaters video that started this thread, has been in and out of
Humboldt County, filming the protests. The federal court case against
Charles Hurwitz -- the head of Maxxam, which owns Pacific Lumber -- is
dragging on, too. More news as it happens...
 
catherine yronwode
cat at luckymojo.com

The Sacred Landscape: http://www.luckymojo.com/sacredland.html




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