Despite vehement environmentalist protests against the housing development where 26 suburan Maryland homes were torched earlier this week, authorities are telling the press that arson-happy Earth Liberation Front members are “not something we are focusing on.”
Let’s hope that’s just spin. ELF’s past record of destruction makes it an obvious investigative target. From my old friends at the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, here is just a partial list through 2001:
Oct. 28; Detroit, Oregon.
A U.S. Forest Service pickup is torched on the parking lot of the Detroit Ranger District headquarters. The saboteurs tag the building with “Earth Liberation Front” and other graffiti. A plastic jug rigged as an incendiary device is later found on the roof. It did not go off. Damages: $15,000. Joint ALF / ELF claim.
October 30, 1996. Near Eugene, Oregon. Arson destroyed U.S. Forest Service Oakridge Ranger Station south of Eugene. Cost estimate, $5.3 million. Not officially recognized as an ELF arson; disgruntled law enforcement officers assert that a joint ALF / ELF claim was received but not published.
July 21, 1997. Redmond, Oregon. Arson of Cavel West meat packing plant in Redmond. Estimated cost over $1 million. Joint ALF / ELF claim.
Nov. 29; 1997. Hines, Oregon. Arsonists destroy a U.S. Bureau of Land Management horse barn, chutes, pens and equipment. Four hundred horses are released, but they are later recaptured. The Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front take joint responsibility. Damages: $474,000.
June 2; Olympia, Washington. Two U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife stations, miles apart, go up in flames on the same morning. The Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front take joint responsibility for both of the attacks. Damages: $1.9 million.
Oct. 10, 1998. Rock Springs, Wyoming. Would-be saboteurs cut the locks off horse pens at a BLM corral, freeing about 40 wild horses. Failed incendiaries are found next to a pickup truck and a building. The Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front take joint responsibility. Damages: negligible.
Oct. 19, 1998. Vail, Colorado. Fires ravage a portion of the Vail ski resort, seven structures destroyed: 4 ski lifts, a restaurant, a picnic facility, and a utility building. The Earth Liberation Front later claims it torched the resort because of proposed expansion into the declining habitat of lynx. Damages: $12 million.
December 26, 1998: Oregon. Arson of U.S. Forest Industries’ corporate headquarters in Medford, Oregon. The three alarm blaze resulted in over $500,000 in damages. ELF claimed responsibility in a communique.
Dec. 27, 1998. Medford, Oregon. Fire ravages the headquarters of U.S. Forest Industries. An Earth Liberation Front communiqu� issued weeks later by the Liberation Collective in Portland, Oregon says the strike was payback to a company it accused of razing forests and killing wild animals for profit. Damages: $700,000.
Aug. 7, 1999. Escanaba, Michigan. A fishing boat is set ablaze in the driveway of a veterinarian who once worked as a mink rancher. A garage door is tagged with graffiti 18 inches high: “FUR IS MURDER. E.L.F.” The Earth Liberation Front later claims in an Internet posting it targeted the veterinarian after finding a “Fur is Enough” sign outside his home. Damages: $15,000.
Dec. 25, 1999. Monmouth, Oregon. Fire burns down a Boise Cascade timber management office. “Let this be a lesson to all greedy multinational corporations who don’t respect their ecosystems,” the Earth Liberation Front writes in a claim of responsibility to The Oregonian. “The elves are watching.” Damages: $1 million.
Dec. 31; Lansing, Mich. Arson breaks out in the offices of Catherine Ives, Room 324, Michigan State University’s Agriculture Hall, a campus landmark. The Earth Liberation Front later issues a communiqu� saying it doused an office with gasoline and set it ablaze because the university financed development of genetically modified crops to force developing nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa to switch from natural crop plants to gentically engineered sweet potatoes, corn, bananas and pineapples. Monsanto and USAID are major funders of the research and promotional work being done through Michigan State University. According to local newspapers, the fire caused some $400,000 in damage. “Cremate Monsanto, Long live the E.L.F. On to the next GE target!”
Jan. 23; Bloomington, Ind. Fire destroys a luxury home under construction at the Sterling Woods Development. Investigators find a cryptic message spray-painted in black on a sign near the house: “No Sprawl – ELF.” Damages $200,000. An ELF statement obtained by the Environment News Service says, “The house was targeted because the sprawling development it is located in is in the Lake Monroe Watershed. This is the drinking water supply for the town of Bloomington, Indiana and the surrounding area. It is already being jeopardized by existing development and roads.”
April 30; Bloomington, Ind. At least six pieces of logging and heavy construction equipment are sabotaged and a trailer full of wood chips is set ablaze at a road construction site just outside the city. A communiqu� from the Earth Liberation Front states its plan was to punish those developing wooded areas around Bloomington, which “have turned what was once forested land into parking lots, luxury houses for rich scum and expanded roads.” Damages: $75,000.
July 20; Rhinelander, Wis. Vandals hack down thousands of experimental trees, mostly poplars, and spray-paint vehicles at a U.S. Forest Service research station. The Earth Liberation Front claims the attack was against bioengineering, although researchers say the trees were bred naturally to grow faster and resist diseases. Damages: $1 million.
Sept. 9; Bloomington, Ind. Fire erupts at the headquarters of the Monroe County Republican Party Committee headquarters. Investigators say a flammable liquid was poured on the building and ignited. The arson was a reminder, according to the Earth Liberation Front communiqu�, that it would not sit quietly as politicians pushed for plans to extend an interstate highway. Damages: $1,500.
Oct. 18; Shoals, Ind. Vandals find four pieces of heavy logging equipment in the Martin State Forest and cut hoses, slash seats, destroy gauges and pour sand in the engines, fuel tanks and radiators. They leave spray-painted graffiti including, “Earth Raper,” “Go Cut in Hell,” and “ELF.” Damages: $55,000.
Nov. 27; Niwot, Colo. Arson hits one of the first luxury homes going up in a new subdivision. The Earth Liberation Front later sends a note, made of letters clipped from magazines, to the Boulder Weekly newspaper: “Viva la revolution! The Boulder ELF burned the Legend Ridge mansion on Nov. 27th.” The underground group explains in a follow-up communiqu� that the arson was driven by defeat of a statewide ballot measure to control growth. Damages: $500,000.
Dec. 9; Middle Island, N.Y. Fire erupts in a condominium under construction. The Earth Liberation Front claims responsibility, saying the homes were “future dens of the wealthy elite.” The group, announcing “an unbounded war on urban sprawl,” claims it checked for occupants – human and animal – in 16 condos before setting incendiaries in them. Damages: $200,000.
Dec. 19; Miller Place, N.Y. A house under construction goes up in flames. “Building homes for the wealthy should not even be a priority,” the Earth Liberation Front writes in its communiqu�. “Forests, farms and wetlands are being replaced with a sea of houses, green chemical lawns, blacktop and roadkill.” Damages: $50,000.
Dec. 30; Mount Sinai, N.Y. Three luxury homes under construction are set ablaze, and a fourth is spray-painted with graffiti: “If you build it we will burn it.” The ELF issues a communiqu� saying, “This hopefully provided a firm message that we will not tolerate the destruction of our island.” Damages: $160,000.
Jan. 2; Glendale, Oregon. Fire ravages the offices of Superior Lumber Co., the town of 770’s leading employer. The arson is the third holiday conflagration of an Oregon timber firm in as many years. It summons investigators from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Damages: $400,000.
Feb. 15; Suffolk County, New York. Charged with arson and arson conspiracy in connection with the Long Island, New York arsons, were Connor Cash, 19. Cash entered a not guilty plea. Charged with arson conspiracy were Jared McIntyre, 17, Matthew Rammelkamp, 16, and George Mashkow Jr., 17. Cash, of Sound Beach, was charged with conspiring with the others to burn the Mount Sinai homes Dec. 30. Prosecutors said he procured the gasoline for the incendiary devices and instructed the others to carry out the torching because as an adult, he feared he would face greater penalties if caught. McIntyre, of Coram, and the other two were accused of carrying out the Dec. 9 arson of four new homes in Middle Island and plotting to torch a Center Moriches duck farm and a McDonald’s in Miller Place. Mashkow, of Coram, and McIntyre were charged in the Dec. 19 torching of a home under construction in Miller Place. Rammelkamp, of Miller Place, and McIntyre were charged with carrying out the torching of the Mount Sinai homes. As part of plea bargains with federal prosecutors, George Mashkow and Matthew Rammelkamp pleaded guilty as adults and agreed to cooperate with investigations into ELF and a related group, the Animal Liberation Front. Jared McIntyre also pleaded guilty to arson conspiracy.
Since my days at the Seattle Times, where I covered both ELF and its animal-rights arm, ALF, I’ve continued to track the ecoterrorist movement and its anti-capitalist, anti-military saboteurs. These incendiary menaces declared war against us a long time ago. Maybe now that it’s hitting closer to home around the Beltway, Washington will finally answer back.