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Flagpole Sitting & Courthouse Occupying

Photo by Cascadia Forest Defenders
Photo by Cascadia Forest Defenders.

Summer is near and in Oregon that means it’s treesit season. And apparently it’s flagpole-sitting season, too. Last week a Cascadia Forest Defenders (CFD) activist was arrested after hanging a protest banner from a flagpole at the state capitol in Salem. And with the warmer weather, Occupy Eugene is not only protesting but also occupying again. They’re at the old Federal Courthouse with a permit in hand. 

Early in the morning hours of May 10, forest defender (and sometime Occupy protester) Perry Graham climbed a flagpole to hang a banner that said, “School vs. trees? We want both.” 

CFD has had a campaign since 2009 protesting logging in Oregon’s state forests. In 2011 Gov. John Kitzhaber and the State Land Board approved a plan that nearly doubles the yearly amount of trees clearcut in the Elliott State Forest, which lies south of Eugene.

“There are no schools on a dead planet,” the forest defenders say. CFD argues that clearcutting the native trees of forests like the Elliott doesn’t provide much money to Oregon schools, and it threatens species such as marbled murrelets, spotted owls and the mountain beaver. 

Mountain beaver host one of America’s largest fleas, Hystrichopsylla schefferi, which can be longer than one centimeter. If the mountain beaver were to be wiped out, so would its unique fleas, in a form of coextinction, according to the newsletter Flea News.

Graham stayed on the pole for almost two hours before he came down and was arrested by Oregon State Police on charges of disorderly conduct, second-degree criminal trespass and second-degree criminal mischief.

Meanwhile in Eugene, Occupy Eugene celebrated May Day by occupying the courtyard at the old Federal Building at the corner of 7th and Pearl. According to OE, the group was approached by a Homeland Security officer while holding a general assembly on the steps of the courthouse on the evening of May 1. General assemblies are a key part of the Occupy movement’s democratic process in which decisions are made by group consensus.  

 OE says the officer inquired about the group’s intentions at the site. “When the Occupiers made it clear that they intended to hold a round-the-clock (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) protest, they were offered a 60-day permit, along with a promise to protect protesters’ First Amendment rights,” according to a press release from OE’s Communications Committee. 

Occupy Eugene says “it invites the greater community of Eugene to join them in their protest.”

This summer Cascadia Earth First! will be holding its annual rendezvous in the Clatsop State Forest west of Portland, June 20-25. For more information, go to cascadia2012.com