by Leslie James Pickering
Earth Liberation prisoners Joyanna “Sadie” Zacher and Nathan “Exile” Block, who are a married couple, have been disallowed correspondence by their captors with the excuse that Sadie is “unrepentant” of her crimes.
Sadie and Exile are nearing the end of their seven-year-and-eight-month federal prison sentences for two million-dollar arsons prosecuted under the FBI’s Operation Backfire investigation into the Earth Liberation Front. Specifically, the couple has been convicted of the the $959,000 arson of the Romania Chevrolet dealership on March 30, 2001 and the $994,412 arson of Jefferson Poplar on May 21, 2001.
For the past 4 years, the couple has been allowed correspondence between the Federal Correctional Facilities in Dublin, California (where Sadie is locked up) and in Lompoc, California (where Exile is imprisoned). However, shortly after Sadie released a public statement on her case, their correspondence ‘privileges’ were revoked. When Sadie’s lawyer wrote the sentencing Judge on the matter, the US Attorney’s Office in Portland, Oregon sent a rebuttal directing the Judge to an online video of the release of Sadie’s statement being read by former Earth Liberation Front Press Office spokesperson, Leslie James Pickering, at Burning Books in Buffalo, New York.
In the statement in question, Sadie wrote, “There have been some dark days in here, when the rage of being imprisoned boils over into tears of frustration – but never regret, not ever. Even knowing this would be the price to pay – seven years of my life here, I still would not change my actions in any way.”
This “unrepentant” tone is anything but new. Shortly after their sentencing, the two released a joint statement, which righteously criticized those of their codefendants who opted to cooperate with the state in their own prosecution. The statement made clear their “opposition to cooperation with, or apology to, the state” and read, in part, “Those who now work in collaboration (under the innocuous term ‘cooperation’) with the same powers which they once felt compelled to raise themselves in opposition to, have in their wicked apostasy, desecrated the sacred covenant that exists between nature and those who align themselves with the very Element of Fire and the very Essence of Destruction in the defense of the Wild… for in the hour when the struggle returned for them, when the predator had once again become the prey, they failed in spirit and resolve, cowardly breaking long held oaths and begging for mercy from their captors, hoping to gain leniency by offering as a sacrifice to the altar of a perverted ‘justice’ their former friends, trusted colleagues and any dignity they once held.”
It appears that what the government is really after is a 1984-style public apology, but when that isn’t forthcoming something less than repentance will suffice, so long as it is silent. However, when strong examples of outspoken resistance are set by prisoners they are punished for their thoughts and words. Daniel McGowan, the most vocal of the Operation Backfire targets, and who was the focus of the Oscar-nominated 2011 documentary If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, has been housed in a new, ultra-restrictive Communications Management Unit in response to his being continuously outspoken.
You can currently write Sadie at Joyanna Zacher #36360-086, FCI Dublin, 5701 8th St., Camp Parks, Unit F, Dublin, CA 94568 and Exile at Nathan Block #36359-086, FCI Lompoc, 3600 Guard Road, Lompoc, CA 93436. Sadie and Exile are due to be reunited at a halfway house this spring. The struggle continues…