In the name of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), Rebecca Rubin liberated horses and helped burn down several facilities, including a ski resort in Vail, Colorado. The largest roundup of radical environmentalists in U.S. history subsequently began in December 2005, but Rubin and three others facing charges remained at large. In November 2012, Rubin finally surrendered to U.S. authorities at the Canadian border.
In October 2013, Rubin pled guilty to arson and conspiracy charges. She refused, however, to turn over the names of other people who were involved in the actions she took. This afternoon U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken sentenced Rubin to five years in prison and 200 hours of community service, declining to impose the two and a half year terrorism enhancement sought by the prosecution.
To discredit activists and justify repression, people label politically-motivated property destruction as terrorism. Yet any meaningful definition of terrorism must require an intentional use of physical violence directed against innocent people for ideological, political, or economic purposes. Rubin and other radical environmentalists involved in similar actions have been careful to avoid harming anyone, and in fact prevented others – at least temporarily – from harming animals and the natural world.
Unfortunately this has not prevented judges, including Judge Aiken, from imposing terrorism enhancements in the cases of Tre Arrow, Nathan Block, Marie Mason, Eric McDavid, Daniel McGowan, Briana Waters, and Joyanna Zacher.