In 2004, convicted animal rights arsonist Rodney Coronado, 38, was arrested after he and fellow Earth First activist Matthew Crozier, 32, along with Esquire writer John Richardson, allegedly entered Sabino Canyon, Arizona, and destroyed a mountain lion trap. Coronado faces up to seven years in jail.
All three were charged with federal misdemeanor trespassing on national forest land, interfering with a forest officer and violation of a special closure order (the canyon had been closed by officials due to the threat from aggressive mountain lions). Coronado and Crozier were also charged with federal felony conspiracy to impede or injure an officer. The state of Arizona also charged Coronado and Crozier with misdemeanor charges related to their removal of the trap and a sensor set up near the trap.
On the federal charges, which are clearly the most serious, Coronado could spend six and a half years in prison. And Coronado does not even bother to pretend he might be not guilty — in fact, he’s downright proud of what he did.
In an essay published in animal rights extremist magazine No Compromise, Coronado writes (emphasis added),
. . . While 2004 marked my fifth year out of prison, it was also the year that finally saw my re-arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Something those bastards have been trying to do since 1999, when I walked out the gates of the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson. My arrest wasn’t unexpected. As with many a practitioner of nonviolent civil disobedience, my actions were taken with a full understanding of the consequences I faced should I be arrested for opposing and interfering with this occupying government’s efforts to kill mountain lions last March.
Thank you, bastards at the FBI!
Coronado goes on to erase any doubt that he is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused (emphasis added),
When it came down to the lions versus the combined guns, snares, ground sensors, helicopters, hounds and 4×4 trucks of taxpayer-supported professional hunters, I found out who were the lionsÂ’ real friends and who really believed in animal liberation and deep ecology. Like many a direct action I have participated in, the people I patrolled that canyon with are some of the bravest and most beautiful people I know. ItÂ’s for these reasons my friends and I are now being threatened with seven years in federal prison. Because a few of us were not willing to sit back and watch as our public lands and wildlife were destroyed to once again assuage human fears of the uncontrollable wild in a never-ending invasion.
And I was, still am and always will be proud to be able to take such a stance against overwhelming odds when the people and places I love are being threatened or destroyed. It is with such honor, that I snuck into Sabino Canyon night after night, past federal officers patrolling for native wildlife whose only offense was not enough fear of humans and continuing to hunt in their occupied homelands. When we choose to be warriors of the Earth and her Animal Nations we accept that it might be our own lives and freedom that are one day threatened or taken away. That is the way for every generation of warrior and protector whose duty it is to protect home and family.
This gives us a nice insight into just how nutty Coronado was. When he referred to the “occupying government” above, I originally assumed he was making about related to his Native American activism. But no, as he makes clear, it is the lions themselves whose “homeland” is occupied by the government — although Coronado apparently is unconcerned about the sanctity “homelands” of the prey that the mountain lion hunts! Some “Animal Nations” are apparently more equal than others.
Coronado then complains that his fellow activists aren’t emulating his illegal ways sufficiently (emphasis added),
As IÂ’ve said before, IÂ’m proud to be an enemy of the United States. The enemy of a global invader that allows terrorism to happen on a daily basis. A regime that routinely allows not only the torture of animals in its licensed and regulated laboratories, but people in its military concentration camps as well. IÂ’m not surprised by any of this behavior, its what you come to expect from people who since their arrival have always used violence and terror to achieve their objectives.
The only thing that surprises me about it all is that there are not more of the many people I have met over the last twenty years of this struggle fighting here beside me. While a couple of those dear comrades sit in prison or are under federal indictment, many more hide amongst the society responsible for the violence we oppose, enjoying the privileges won with the very kind of terror they supposedly oppose.
So this is my question to you. How bad do things have to get before you are willing to fight back? And IÂ’m not talking about anything you do in front of a computer or that involves music bands, pamphlets, puppets or patches, IÂ’m talking about fighting back as if it was your own life under attack. Its not about who else is doing it among movements, groups or friends, when will you be ready to be the first? To do what the law says is wrong, but what you know in your heart is right. That has been and always will be the way peoplesÂ’ voices are heard, not through doing what is popular and polite, but a stand that however unpopular, allows you to exist as a part of a solution to it all, a life free from the liberal first world guilt felt by the aware but apathetic within different movements for social change. A stand that says to one and all, that you as one human being will not allow injustice to go unchallenged, despite the threatened consequences by those perpetuating it.
I couldn’t agree more. What we need are more animal rights extremists in jail and under federal indictment rather than enjoying the privileges of our society. Come on, guys and gals — step up to the plate and really stick it to the animal oppressors by going to prison. That’ll show ’em.
With any luck, Coronado can set a shining example in a federal prison for the next several years.
Fighting Back: Crimes of Resistance. Rodney Coronado, No Compromise, March 3, 2005.
2 mountain lion activists face new counts of theft. Patty Machelor, Arizona Daily Star, March 29, 2005.
Scared of lions? So move, activist says. Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star, March 27, 2004.