On the frontlines: ELF criminals go unpunished

Published June 1, 2001

It was said on the Senate floor that some Senators were threatened with bodily harm if they voted for John Ashcroft. Please investigate why Craig Rosebraugh, spokesman for terrorist group ELF in Portland, Oregon was in DC this week.

Terrorism to change public policy is what his group does. Maybe the ELF group was involved, as they have been in over 100 other acts of terrorism with a cost of over $40 million, without anyone being prosecuted. There is something wrong when nothing is being done to stop them. Hopefully your people can stop them.

Bruce Griffith, President
Griffith Lumber Company
Stuart, Virginia

Craig Rosebraugh is the shadow-voice of eco-terrorism in the United States and has been for several years now. He is the official spokesperson for what is known as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).

ELF has no formal headquarters or publicly known organizational structure. Rosebraugh says he doesn’t know who is or is not a member. But he knows every detail of what they do and is well-established as the one and only authoritative ELF media contact.

ELF is shy and restrained only when it comes to the identification of ELF activists who have committed some form of extreme vandalism. The evidence, so far, suggests most ELF activists are young and probably students in high school or college. Of the four so far arrested in connection with a series of burnings of new homes under construction on Long Island, New York, three were in high school; only the fourth was over age 21.

Until the Long Island arson outbreak, except for a couple of torchings in the Midwest, nearly all of ELF’s most publicized activity has been in the western United States, mostly in close proximity to federal forestlands or wilderness.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation now considers ELF to be one of the nation’s principal terrorist groups. Yet rangers and other police agents of the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service have been notably ineffective–even, it has been suggested, disinterested–in solving ELF’s crimes against private property.

ELF’s activities flowered during the years of the Clinton-Gore administration, when resource extraction activities, such as timber and mining, and recreational interests, such as inholder resorts (hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and skiing, especially) were subjected to frequent harassment and criticism.

Over the past decade of mounting eco-terrorism, Virginia was hardly aware of the subject . . . until January 30, 2001. That’s when Craig Rosebraugh was invited to address an assembly of students, faculty, and visitors at Virginia Tech University. His sponsor for the event was the New River Coalition for Animal Rights, a clear example of how property destroyers (ELF) and animal issue advocates make common cause in their anarchistic ways to bring down democratic capitalist society in any way possible.

Elves on campus

Fortunately, a few people in the Old Dominion were forewarned and alert. One of them was Bruce Griffith, a lumberman in southwest Virginia. In a matter of hours, he, Talley Griffith, and Jane Hogan from Southside, Virginia, like the Minute Men of 226 years ago in Massachusetts, had rallied a Virginia Treekeepers (TreeKeepers.org) delegation of citizens to make the long trip to protest and monitor Rosebraugh’s appearance on the Tech campus.

Bruce Griffith provided this account for the Alliance for America and others within hours of the event:

Jane and Holt Hogan brought people, Bud Connor, Gary Birkett, Andy McCready, Stuart Deacon, Danny Goodbar, Bob Shaffer, Talley Griffith and I brought six. I think most everyone brought others. Bob Shaffer got Tech students to attend.

The biggest thanks and praise goes to Talley Griffith for all the efforts he made to get the media there and to be anxious to interview him. He had media packets prepared, including placards and handouts. Two TV stations from Roanoke were waiting for him for interviews. We were a few minutes later than we wanted to be, so we hurriedly passed out the placards to Jane, Holt, Bud, Bruce, Talley, Matt D, and the rest of our helpers and protested in front of the TV.

Talley and my nephew, Matt Dunlap, a student from nearby Ferrum College, were interviewed for the 11 o’clock news on two Roanoke TV stations which gave great coverage of us. Talley and Matt both explained why we were there protesting. It was really a great media event and it was (most helpful) to our side for a change.

The Tech auditorium was standing room only. The campus police would only let people in as others left because of the fire code. Most of the several hundred in the audience were students, but our group and a few others who came to protest provided a sprinkling of older citizens in a packed house.

The student body, judging from the volume of crowd reactions to key questions and the speaker’s replies, was quite divided on environmental issues, though the majority indicated opposition to the Rosebraugh message.

Rosebraugh was described by one observer as being tall, skinny, and pale with head shaven. He sat on the stage in a chair behind a big wooden desk and read his prepared statement. He gave examples of past direct-action movements in history that required riots, wars, and terrorist-type activity in order to bring change in societal thinking.

He explained the history of ELF and how he became their spokesperson . . . all the while denying he was a member. Nor did he know any of them, he insisted. He kept praising their efforts in bringing attention to the need to destroy the capitalist system. Griffith recalls:

A lot of good questions were asked at the end: Birkett on spikes in logs, McCready on being a volunteer fire fighter and how many were killed last year fighting fires, and that he better not hear of one dying fighting one of ELF’s arson fires. Talley asked Rosebraugh direct questions about his activity with ELF, trying to trip him up and make him tie himself to the ELF group. He didn’t tumble.

Some kid got up and said to Rosebraugh that since he was the spokesperson, and he seemed to be the only one working for the group by traveling around drumming up students, then he concluded Rosebrough was the ELF. An East Indian student chided him for using Gandhi as an example of changing society while talking about terrorism in the same breath.

Treekeepers participants were interviewed by Roanoke and Richmond newspapers and several smaller publications, as well as the television stations covering the Rosebraugh event. Rosebraugh apparently was touring the eastern U.S. for college appearances and media interviews. All of the effort, it is fair to assume, was to extol the “virtues” of ELF, anarchy and socialism.

That should have been the end of the story . . . but this one has a significant postscript.

The spiking continues

Approximately 40 days after Rosebraugh’s Virginia Tech appearance, some six hours away from Blacksburg on the eastern side of the Virginia Commonwealth, ELF drove potentially injurious, sometimes even lethal, concealed metal spikes into large trees due for logging.

ELF had posted 30 signs warning the trees were spiked, but an executive of the logging firm, specialists in producing quality wood for furniture, said the spiking would not stop the company from removing the trees as planned.

The first risk from “spiking” is to loggers cutting down the trees. Chainsaws or crosscut sawblades can easily break on the spikes, ricocheting into loggers like razor-edge bullets. The second, even bigger, risk is when logs are taken to the sawmill. High-speed blades, costing up to $2,300 each, may be ruined by a spike, and the risk to the saw operators is great.

The spiked tract of hardwoods was privately owned, formerly a 500-acre farm with a 300-acre forest, purchased last year by Rock Hill Lumber, Inc. of Culpeper, Virginia.

Rosebraugh, contacted immediately by the news media after the spiking, said from his Portland, Oregon office he knew nothing of the Virginia action. Those who attended his speech at Virginia Tech had every right to be skeptical.

John Fulton Lewis is a student at Virginia Tech University.