Mafia Law Used Against Environmentalists for Tree Sits, Civil Disobedience, Blog Post (1 Viewer)

  • Thread starter rideitlikeyoustoleit
  • Start date


I deleted myself
Apr 29th, 2009 by Will Potter

i69_tree_sitTwo environmental activists in Bloomington, Ind., have been charged with racketeering–charges originally intended to target the mob–for allegedly “conspiring” to engage in tree sits, participate in non-violent civil disobedience, and make an inflammatory blog post.

Hugh Farrell and Gina “Tiga” Wertz are organizers in the campaign to halt expansion of the I-69 NAFTA superhighway. They were arrested on Friday, April 24th, and they’re each facing five charges that carry a maximum of eight years in prison.

Four of the charges are misdemeanors for “intimidation” and “conversion” (treating someone else’s property as your own). All four misdemeanors are related to a civil disobedience stunt where some activists removed the furniture from an I-69 project office, occupied the space, and posted an eviction notice. The government says the civil disobedience stunt was intended to place Ronnie Wilson in fear, and subject him to “contempt or ridicule.”

The felony charge is for corrupt business influence, or racketeering. The government isn’t arguing that these activists were actually engaged in racketeering, but that they are part of Roadblock EarthFirst (described as a criminal enterprise) and “conspired” to do so. According to their arrest warrants, Farrell and Wertz:

* “Conspired” to remove office furniture from I-69 project offices as part of eviction notice stunts.
* “Conspired” to post an “internet blog on two publicly accessed website stating ‘you will suffer the consequences’ and ‘perhaps we’ll go to your homes, children’s daycare, churches or wherever else you happen to turn your back.” The blog posts were made after the violent removal of activists from a tree sit.
* “Conspired” to commit “theft” when six individuals blocked the entrance to Gohmann Asphalt and Construction Company using non-violent civil disobedience and caused a loss of profits.
* “Conspired” to commit “theft” by “taking unauthorized control of trees” and “depriving lawful owners of use and/or value of the said trees.” (Note: the last two bullets are only in Wertz’s arrest warrant.)

Racketeering laws are intended to combat organized crime, such as the mafia, and include crimes like extortion, bribery and money laundering. Although ambitious prosecutors have tried to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to target anti-abortion activists, animal rights activists, and the Hells Angels, the purpose of the law has always been to go after illegal business activity.

But these activists, and others like them, are not protesting this superhighway to make money. They’re not doing it for personal gain. Halting this environmental destruction will not financially benefit them in any way.

Then why use mob laws against them? Because of their beliefs.

Tree sits, office takeovers and road blockades are against the law, and the government has the tools and resources to prosecute those crimes.

But because of the politics of the alleged crimes, prosecutors are reaching for more. Civil disobedience has become “theft.” Tree sits have become “unauthorized control of trees.” These trumped-up charges are a way to take what are, at the very worst, misdemeanor crimes and turn them into federal crimes. It’s an attack on individuals perceived as being leaders in the movement for the sole purpose of stamping out dissent.

A support website for Hugh Farrell and Gina “Tiga” Wertz has been set up at Free Tiga and Hugh!.

Mob Law Used Against Environmentalists for Tree Sits, Civil Disobedience, Blog Post |
We sell all kinds of other stuff in our Etsy store!

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Austin, TX
whew goddamn, that's some serious bullshit. it seems like they try to take it farther and farther every year to criminalize people that are exerting their rights as citizens. just goes to show the government will do anything it can to keep people from voicing their beliefs.

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

About us

  • Squat the Planet is the world's largest social network for misfit travelers. Join our community of do-it-yourself nomads and learn how to explore the world by any means necessary.

    More Info

Support StP!

Donations go towards paying our monthly server fees, adding new features to the website, and occasionally putting a burrito in Matt's mouth.

Total amount

Monthly Goals

  1. Paying the Bills
    $50.00 of $50.00 - reached!
    The first $50 in donations go towards paying our monthly server fees and adding new features to the website. Once this goal is reached, we'll see about feeding Matt that burrito.
  2. Buy Matt a Beer
    $75.00 of $75.00 - reached!
    Now that we have the bills paid for this month, let's give Matt a hearty thank you by buying him a drink for all the hard work he's done for StP. Hopefully his will help keep him from going insane after a long day of squishing website bugs.
  3. Feed Matt a Burrito
    $100.00 of $100.00 - reached!
    Now that the bills are paid and Matt has a beer in his hand, how about showing him your love by rewarding all his hard work with a big fat burrito to put in his mouth. This will keep him alive while programming new features for the website.
  4. Finance the Shopping Cart
    $100.00 of $200.00
    Now that the bills are paid and Matt is fed, perhaps it's time to start planning for those twilight years under the bridge... if only he had that golden shopping cart all the oogles are bragging about these days.

Latest Status Updates

Social distancing? Try traveling - whether it is a tramp van, a train or even a bike.
Favorite thing to do during an apocalypse??
First track of one of a solid album.
This shit is getting real, under self isolation - no, it's self quarantine now - thanks to some jerk who came to the Plant knowingly sick.
He has judged himself, as for me... my locker has been emptied because I am not putting up with that bullshit.
Looks like I just decided to take an early retirement, so on to greener pastures I go......
Be safe out there, perhaps we'll meet again when times are better.
I hope that y'all are good and safe wherever you may happen to be. Take care of yourselves, may the wind always be at your back <3
When Democrat and Republican politicians argue and fuck up so badly we end up taking 1st place in Plague Inc irl:

So, here's something great! After finally saying NO to eating carbs and sugar this morning (since that's mostly all there is to eat at home) and instead bought and ate vegetables, I actually don't have cravings anymore!

All I've eaten today is two sweet potatoes and some broccoli, and I don't have any food cravings, and I'm not lethargic!
Matt Derrick wrote on snailormoon's profile.
aww i really like your new profile picture.
Beautiful day to be alive and listen to the birds chirp, remembering to be grateful for what we have and not worry about what we have not.

Staff online