Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Sept. 25, 1997
issue of Workers World newspaper
Thousands protest to save redwoods
By Tahnee Stair in Stafford, Calif.
More than 7,000 people gathered on Sept. 14 in the tiny town of Stafford, Calif.--250 miles north of San Francisco, near the Oregon border. They were protesting Pacific Lumber Co.'s plan to log the Headwaters forest.
Only 4 percent of the planet's redwood trees remain--many of them in Headwaters.
The protest was sponsored by many local environmental organizations and was coordinated by the Environmental Protection Information Center of Guernville, Calif. Among those who took part in the rally were singer Bonnie Raitt and actor Woody Harrelson.
Sheriffs--including many from surrounding counties--were out in force in riot gear performing drills designed to intimidate the demonstrators.
The protesters defied threats of arrest on felony charges by crossing police lines onto Pacific Lumber property.
They marched to a home that had been nearly destroyed from a mud slide caused by clear cutting on the mountainside above.
GREED THREATENS WORKERS, WOODS AND WILDLIFE
Earlier pressure from environmental activists had forced the federal government to ban logging in the Headwaters forest until Sept. 15--the day an endangered sea bird, the marbled murrlet, is supposedly done nesting there.
Pacific Lumber Co. owns Headwaters. Before PL Co. was acquired through a hostile takeover by Maxaam Co., it was the only logging company not to cut down old-growth redwood holdings.
Maxaam Co. bought PL Co. with money from loans of junk bonds. Since then, Maxaam has targeted the last unprotected ancient redwood grove in order to pay off the interest on the debt, according to Doug Croyn, a founding activist of the campaign to save Headwaters.
Maxaam executives, hungry for fast cash, also raided workers' retirement funds, tripled logging production and began local mining operations.
ONE STRUGGLE, MANY FRONTS
Rally speakers included representatives of Service Employees Local 1000, youths from Earth First and Native leaders.
Cora Lee Simmons, chairperson of the Round Valley Indians for Justice, spoke about the case of Eugene "Bear" Lincoln. Lincoln, a Wailaki Indian from the nearby Round Valley reservation, is currently facing the death penalty, framed in the killing of a sheriff's deputy.
Simmons explained that Lincoln and his friend Leonard Peters were the victims of a police ambush on April 14, 1995.
The crowd responded with thunderous applause when Simmons urged those gathered to join the struggle to free Bear Lincoln.
A contingent from the National People's Campaign received a strong response to the call for a mass rally in San Francisco on Nov. 16 to demand freedom for American Indian Movement warrior Leonard Peltier.
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