Man Protesting Logging Rainbow Ridge Describes Ordeal
The protesters say they are there to stop logging by the Humboldt Redwood Company of an untouched forest of old growth Douglas Fir. They say, “Rainbow Ridge area is the most seismically active region in the continental U.S. and is vital habitat for rare and endangered species such as the Pacific fisher, Coho salmon, Northern goshawk, Golden eagle, Northern spotted owl, and a large distinctive type of old-growth-dependent medicinal fungus, the agarikon. The area contains over 1100 acres of ancient Douglas fir and hardwoods.”
Pete told us that around 2:15 p.m. yesterday, he had moved across the rope to a tree anchoring the tripod when Lear personnel began attempting to climb into it with a ladder. He said that he was told they were coming to remove him for his own safety.
“They gave me a 30 minute ultimatum,” Pete said. “Paul [Trouette the owner of Lear Asset Management] told me basically ‘We’re taking you down because you are dehydrated. It is taking you six seconds to pee.’ Then I realized they were observing everything.”
This made Pete frustrated, he explained. “They were creating a situation where I was sleep deprived and running out of water and then telling me that those meant I needed to be rescued.”
Pete said, “When they gave me that ultimatum, they were starting to take down the anchor rope.”
Pete said he told them, “I am standing on a skinny little branch and the traverse was what was keeping me from falling…I’m like in the air. The rope is my only connection to being alive.”
They didn’t stop, according to Pete. “They said if I get hurt it was my own fault,” he explained. “I felt that the disregard for my safety had reached a point they were willing to hurt me. I got jittery. I [was] in a dangerous situation. I was starting to panic a little bit.”
He said the guards had frightened him from the first time they showed up with tasers on Sunday. He felt one of his fellow protestors had been in danger of getting shot with one of the tasers. “I saw the red dots line up on his chest,” Pete said. “I’ve been in some protests where people are getting tased. It’s no good. It’s horrible.”
Pete said over the days since the Lear personnel had been there he had talked to them. “I do respect them in some ways,” he explained. “I don’t believe that any one of them personally wanted me to get hurt, but I believed them when they said they were going to follow their orders and do what it takes to get [me] down.”
He added, “There are good places in these people’s hearts but when they are under orders…they are military.”
After they gave him the ultimatum, Pete said he started to hurriedly pack up his belongings. What he knew, but he doesn’t think the guards knew was that there was a woman protester in the tree, too. Pete climbed down to her and told her they should try to escape.
Choking up, Pete said she told him, “I don’t think I am going to make it. You just need to go.”
Quietly, he began moving down the tree.
“I knew they had one guy, Frank, under the tree,” Pete told us. “He was one of the nicer ones. But I knew he would do the job if he had to.” Over the time the Lear team was there, he and Frank had chatted and although Pete wouldn’t give his name, Frank began calling him Bob.
Scared that dropping the tripod could lead to him plummeting to his death, Pete described rapidly rappelling down the tree. “Descending,” he said, “descending.” He paused and added in a shaky voice, “I really did feel like I was in danger.”
Pete said Frank saw him reach the ground and called, “Hey, Bob, where you going?”
Pete said he’s not sure he answered. “I wish I’d said good-bye,” he told us. “I ran like a hunted animal. That’s how I felt when I saw my friends getting rounded up [Sunday] with tasers.”
According to Pete, one of the Lear guards had a Belgium Malinois. The guard spoke to it in German which made Pete think it was a trained attack dog. Now he was worried, “This dog could be coming after me at any moment. I thought I could hear them coming for me.” So he says he ran until he was exhausted.
“I wallowed in a little creek once,” he said. Eventually, he was able to make contact with other protestors and somebody rendezvoused with him and picked him up.
The woman protester saw Lear personnel take down the tripod. They eventually learned she was tehre. They gave her an ultimatum to come down or be extracted. She was arrested.
“She’s doing okay,” Pete told us. “She returned to civilization before I did.”
Pete said the experience changed him. “I feel very resolved to continue this struggle. The Douglas Fir has been depleted so intensely on this coastline that this may be the largest privately held forest…I just don’t think we can continue to treat our watershed this way.”
Then he added, “I am really worried they are in there chopping the forest right now.”
- Two Protestors Arrested at Rainbow Ridge Logging Blockade
- Protesters Say They Are Locking to Gate to Stop Logging After Humboldt Redwoods Company Removed Tripod Sitter