Willamette Week (Portland, OR)
Tre Arrow Pleads Not Guilty, Trial Set for May
March 3rd 2008 4:44pmhttp://wweek.com/wwire/?p=10954
Environmental activist Tre Arrow entered a not guilty plea and U.S.
Magistrate Judge Dennis J. Hubel set a trial date of May 6 in a small
courtroom filled to occupancy in Portland's Federal Courthouse at 1:30
Arrow, who returned to Oregon last Friday night after losing his fight
against extradition, faces felony charges including conspiracy, arson,
attempted arson and use of destructive devices (incendiaries).
A crowd of about 20 braved Portland's notorious mist in front of the
courthouse beforehand in support of Arrow in the city where his
environmental radicalism began.
The supporters congregated in peaceful protest to play drums, blow
bubbles and wave signs.
"Whether or not you agree with his political beliefs, in America you
deserve a free trial," said supporter Chani Geigle-Teller, 25, as she
held one end of a large "Free Tre Arrow" banner.
The charges are a result of Arrow allegedly setting aflame trucks
belonging to Ross Island Sand and Gravel Company and Schoppert Logging
Company in 2001.
Arrow spent 20 months as a fugitive in Canada before being arrested in
2004 for shoplifting a pair of bolt cutters and has since battled
extradition to the United States.
Prosecutor and Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Peifer says if
Arrow is found guilty of the crimes, he faces life in prison.
Arrow's sister, Shawna Scarpitti, 38, spoke with Arrow Sunday evening
and says, "his spirits are high."
She has not seen her brother since last April and hopes to get a
face-to-face with him this evening.
"The charges he faces are property damage," she says. "He's completely
Arrow is being held in Multnomah County Detention Center.
There was speculation in the courtroom that Arrow would be detained
until trial in Sheridan, Oregon, at which point Loney requested of the
judge that Arrow be held locally for easier trial preparation.
His detention location remains unconfirmed as Hubel replied that the
matter should be taken up with the U.S. Marshal.
Other issues brought before the court included Peifer stating that he
received a phone call Monday morning from attorney Andrew Bates, who
says Loney's representation of Arrow presents a conflict of interest.
Bates represented Jacob Sherman, another defendant in Arrow's case who
pleaded guilty to arson charges and completed a 41-month federal
prison term. Bates contends there is a conflict because Loney works in
Belmont Law Center with attorney Stu Sugarman, who also represented
"There's no actual conflict of interest here at all," Loney told the
judge. "We had separate practices and just shared a waiting room and
copier like many other Portland lawyers."
Hubel said Bates can move for a disqualification if desired, and the
issue was not discussed further.
Loney also requested before the court that Arrow's raw vegan dietary
needs of his strict Buddhist practice be accommodated while in
Hubel said it would be appropriate for those to be accommodated as
soon as possible.
The arraignment took all of 20 minutes, and as Arrow took one last
glimpse of the crowd, he bowed to his supporters with his long curly
black hair falling around his face and whispered, "Namaste."
His calm demeanor and publicized spirituality seem contradictory to
his government label as a terrorist.
His sister, Scarpitti, blames the fear-based post-9/11 climate for
what she calls an unfair application of the term "terrorist" to Arrow.
"He protected nature on a ledge for 11 days and ran for congress,"
says Scarpitti, who believes Arrow's scaling of the Regional U.S.
Forest Service headquarters in Portland in 2000 to protest logging in
Mount Hood National Forest was instrumental in canceling the Eagle
timber sale. "He's not some covert guy living in a cave."