Fighting Back: Crimes of Resistance
from No Compromise Issue 26

Rod Coronado

It’s been a full year for the merry hunt saboteurs of Arizona Earth First! in which my hopes of documenting the Fall trophy hunting seasons in this beautiful state were realized. We did it with very little money and even less people, but together our small collective from Chuk’shon Earth First! and Phoenix Earth First! demonstrated what is still possible for a handful of individual activists willing to bend the rules set by our opponents. And thanks to our efforts I’d like to believe life was enjoyed a little while longer by the black bears, mountain lions, prairie dogs, elk, mule deer, antelope, sandhill cranes and desert bighorn sheep that we spared from the hunter’s gun’s and arrows.

Though the sight of sandhill cranes veering away from the hunters’ blinds, and the failure of the USDA’s Wildlife Services and the Arizona Game and Fish Department to kill lions in Sabino Canyon was truly remarkable, it did not come without a price. While 2004 marked my fifth year out of prison, it was also the year that finally saw my re-arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Something those bastards have been trying to do since 1999, when I walked out of the gates of the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson. My arrest wasn’t unexpected. As with many a practitioner of nonviolent civil disobedience, my actions were taken with a full understanding of the consequences I faced should I be arrested for opposing and interfering with this occupying government’s efforts to kill mountain lions last March.

When it came down to the lions versus the combined guns, snares, ground sensors, helicopters, hounds and 4x4 trucks of taxpayer-supported professional hunters, I found out who were the lions’ real friends and who really believed in animal liberation and deep ecology. Like many a direct action I have participated in, the people I patrolled that canyon with are some of the bravest and most beautiful people I know. It’s for these reasons my friends and I are now being threatened with seven years in federal prison. Because a few of us were not willing to sit back and watch as our public lands and wildlife were destroyed to once again assuage human fears of the uncontrollable wild in a never-ending invasion.

And I was, still am and always will be proud to be able to take such a stance against overwhelming odds when the people and places I love are being threatened or destroyed. It is with such honor, that I snuck into Sabino Canyon night after night, past federal officers patrolling for native wildlife whose only offense was not enough fear of humans and continuing to hunt in their occupied homelands. When we choose to be warriors of the Earth and her Animal Nations we accept that it might be our own lives and freedom that are one day threatened or taken away. That is the way for every generation of warrior and protector whose duty it is to protect home and family.

So with another year comes another battle. I’m not worried about what’s going to happen to me, I’ve been to prison before. What I fear while I’m doing my time is Arizona Game & Fish and the USDA’s Wildlife Services returning to Sabino Canyon and the Coronado National Forest to kill lions. What is going to happen to the world when members of society are no longer brave enough to act against the worst sanctioned violence of our generation? When those of us aware of horrible things are too frightened to do anything about them? I guess we’re living it while others continue to die for it. Be it against Huntington Life Sciences, Pacific Lumber or any other violent thugs in this supposed civilized society, now is the time for good people to make a difference.

As I’ve said before, I’m proud to be an enemy of the United States. The enemy of a global invader that allows terrorism to happen on a daily basis. A regime that routinely allows not only the torture of animals in its licensed and regulated laboratories, but people in its military concentration camps as well. I’m not surprised by any of this behavior, its what you come to expect from people who since their arrival have always used violence and terror to achieve their objectives.

The only thing that surprises me about it all is that there are not more of the many people I have met over the last twenty years of this struggle fighting here beside me. While a couple of those dear comrades sit in prison or are under federal indictment, many more hide amongst the society responsible for the violence we oppose, enjoying the privileges won with the very kind of terror they supposedly oppose.

So this is my question to you. How bad do things have to get before you are willing to fight back? And I’m not talking about anything you do in front of a computer or that involves music bands, pamphlets, puppets or patches, I’m talking about fighting back as if it was your own life under attack. Its not about who else is doing it among movements, groups or friends, when will you be ready to be the first? To do what the law says is wrong, but what you know in your heart is right. That has been and always will be the way peoples’ voices are heard, not through doing what is popular and polite, but a stand that however unpopular, allows you to exist as a part of a solution to it all, a life free from the liberal first world guilt felt by the aware but apathetic within different movements for social change. A stand that says to one and all, that you as one human being will not allow injustice to go unchallenged, despite the threatened consequences by those perpetuating it.

I have no regrets for what I have done. In Sabino Canyon, in the ancient coastal redwood forests being destroyed by Pacific Lumber, in the experimental laboratories of many universities, in the fjords of Iceland. Everywhere and every time I physically decommissioned the weapons and tools of life’s destruction, I have no regrets. Other than to wish that every snare set for a lion was destroyed, all logging equipment in the redwood forests was sabotaged, every animal torture chamber burnt to the ground and every whaling vessel sent to the ocean’s bottom. The U.S. Attorney’s office can try to do whatever the hell they want with me, but they won’t ever have an ounce of my respect or hear a word of remorse for what I’ve done and will continue to do. I’ll be going before another federal judge, but so will their professional killers. We’ll let the jury decide who is guilty of threats and intimidation. And even if they say it was the only people in Sabino Canyon without guns, I still swear that they will never stop me from fighting for my animal relations.

We have nothing to be ashamed of for such direct actions. Unlike the people and institutions those actions are intended to stop. The people whose daily job it is to poison, trap and kill mountain lions, to chainsaw thousand-year old trees, cut, maim, burn and poison animals in laboratories or slaughter the Earth’s largest and last great whales. Those are the people I call criminals and terrorists. The people whose behavior I believe sets the worst example to my son and other future generations who will inherit the world we have created and the kind of behavior that truly courageous people need to stop. We know who our enemies are, now its time to reveal who our true friends are.

When we join the centuries-old sacred resistance to the destruction of all life on Earth, we join legions of oppressed, be they human or non-human who have died, willingly and unwillingly, fighting for the very things you and I now believe in and fight for. It is those spirits we fill our hearts with when we stand as they have, against the enemies of all life. And it is with their spirit that we discover how victory can be ours again, when we break free and are brave enough to fight for our beliefs. That is what it means to be a warrior. To stand fast in defense of land, people and culture no matter what the costs. It is a proud tradition and one that I wish more of us claiming to be representatives of Mother Earth and her peoples were honored to fulfill.