Mckenzie Bridge, OR– Just after dawn on Wednesday (10/25) morning, Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD), who were occupying and supporting a road blockade preventing access to the Goose timber sale, were woken to the sounds of loggers disassembling their blockade. A line was cut, risking the life of a protester in the trees and the 2 vehicles which were anchoring a platform in a tree with a person on it, were towed away by workers’ trucks. One man physically assaulted two protesters; once with an open-handed swat to the face, and once by grabbing a different protester by the neck and throwing him to the ground. No law enforcement was present.
Four men were present during the dangerous forced disassembly of the blockade and the two assaults. They are thought to be subcontracted by the company Seneca Jones to cut the Goose timber sale, which has been the focal point of a forest defense campaign and tree sit since May. The loggers who did this have so far been identified as follows: Joe Johnson, resident of Evergreen CO drove a white and green truck with California plates (CA 09130D2) to tow the anchor vehicles out of the road. An older man- possibly Sonny Weddle of Kamiah, ID, driving a truck with Idaho plates (3L 13905) assaulted two protesters during the attack on the blockade while two other unnamed workers (one thought to be the owner of the CA truck) looked on.
“This is a very disturbing turn of events, and something that we have not seen before from workers during a non-violent protest on public land,” says Matthew Hawks, a Cascadia Forest Defender for the past decade. “Usually workers will allow law enforcement to do their jobs and extract protesters safely, instead of taking matters into their own hands and extracting them with no regard for their civil rights, civil liberties or safety.” The majority of the incident was videotaped by Cascadia Forest Defenders, footage in which you can clearly see that the workers were told, multiple times, that cutting lines and dismantling the anchor could risk the life of the person in the tree. In the video they acknowledge that they know this fact, and continue to do so anyway.
This incident comes right on the tails of a different assault on a different protester, which happened Monday on an abandoned logging road below the blockade. It involved someone brandishing a gun and threats to the protester’s life. “We have to speak out about these attacks. They are happening in the woods, with few or no witnesses, away from the presence of law enforcement. We want to see some accountability,” says Eric, another member of CFD. He goes onto say, “As an organization we are saddened that this violence has come from workers. We never meant to protest loggers themselves, instead take issue with timber companies such as Seneca Jones profiting off the cut of old growth trees on public land. We want people to know that we support workers going to their jobs and providing for their families. We know it is not them behind this type of environmental destruction.”
Members of CFD and their supporters can’t help but draw parallels to Charlottesville and the increase of bullying and violence towards protesters under the Trump administration. “We stand behind our First Amendment rights, and will continue to non-violently speak out for what we believe is right,” says another member of CFD.
The non-violent protesters sustained minor injuries, they are filing police reports and pressing charges today. Reports will be made to OSHA and the requisite insurance companies.