“If a Tree Falls”: New Documentary on Daniel McGowan, Earth Liberation Front and Green Scare
A new documentary, "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front," tells the story of environmental activist Daniel McGowan. Four years ago this month, McGowan was sentenced to a seven-year term for his role in two acts of politically motivated arson in 2001 to protest extensive logging in the Pacific Northwest—starting fires at a lumber company and an experimental tree farm in Oregon. The judge ruled he had committed an act of terrorism, even though no one was hurt in any of the actions. McGowan participated in the arsons as a member of the Earth Liberation Front but left the group after the second fire led him to become disillusioned. He was arrested years later after a key member of the Earth Liberation Front—himself facing the threat of lengthy jail time—turned government informant. McGowan ultimately reached a plea deal but refused to cooperate with the government’s case. As a result, the government sought a "terrorism enhancement" to add extra time to his sentence. McGowan is currently jailed in a secretive prison unit known as Communication Management Units, or CMUs, in Marion, Illinois. We play an excerpt from the film and speak with the film’s director, Marshall Curry. We also speak with Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist who was imprisoned at the same CMU as McGowan, and with Will Potter, a freelance reporter who writes about how the so-called “war on terror” affects civil liberties.
Marshall Curry, filmmaker and co-director of the new documentary, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.
Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist who was jailed at the same CMU as Daniel McGowan for six months. Andrew was freed from prison in 2009 after serving a total of 31 months behind bars.
Will Potter, freelance reporter who focuses on how the war on terrorism affects civil liberties. He runs the blog, “GreenIsTheNewRed.com.” He his also the author of the new book Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege.