Earth First! rally warrants arrests

By Yvonne Condes
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 13, 1996

Katherine K. Gardiner
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Stephane Sylvan, a member of Earth First!, participates in the demonstration at congressman Jim Kolbe's office yesterday. TPD officers clad in riot gear arrested 16 people, including members of Earth First! and a Wildcat photographer.


Sixteen people were arrested, including an Arizona Daily Wildcat photographer, during a protest at Congressman Jim Kolbe's office on Tucson's East Side yesterday afternoon

Katherine K. Gardiner, UA media arts sophomore, was photographing members of Earth First! being removed from Kolbe's office complex at 1661 N. Swan Road when she was arrested.

Earth First! members were protesting Kolbe's support of telescopes on Mount Graham.

Gardiner was standing on a three-foot wall that a photographer from another publication had just come down from. After she took one photograph she was pulled off the wall by a Tucson Police Department officer dressed in riot gear, she said.

Earth First! member Wendy Young was just removed from the premises when she saw Gardiner.

"They threw her against a car. She was crying and screaming. She had a really agonized look on her face," she said.

David Sanders, photographer at the Arizona Daily Star, witnessed the exchange and had just been on the wall that Gardiner was pulled off of.

"I thought they kind of threw her on the back of the car a little harsh," he said in a phone interview.

This was the "third woman photographer this month that has had to deal with a TPD officer in a negative way," Sanders said.

Sgt. Eugene Mejia, TPD public information officer, said Gardiner had crossed the area designated for the media and that she was not identifiable as a member of the media.

Gardiner was taken to a police van for about 45 minutes, she said. She was then taken to the TPD south-side substation, where she remained for another two hours.

The demonstration of about 40 people started just before noon in the lobby of Kolbe's offices. Demonstrators entered and began dancing on the tables, said Douglas Nick, press secretary for Kolbe. Four Earth First! members U-locked their necks to chairs.

"We don't want to have to do this stuff," Young said. "But we don't have any money so they won't listen to us."

TPD arrived about 20 minutes after they were called, Nick said. Forty-four officers responded to the call, some in riot gear, Mejia said.

Kyle Frankel, UA political science junior and intern for Kolbe's office, said one of the four women was hyperventilating and was voluntarily unlocked.

The others were in the lobby for about three hours, until a locksmith arrived and drilled open the locks.

As the last protester was removed and taken into custody, one TPD officer said he hoped they wouldn't see the woman again. She responded by saying "Leave Mount Graham alone and you won't have to."

All those arrested, including Gardiner, were charged with disorderly conduct and second degree trespassing, according to a TPD press release.

Frankel said about 100 calls were made to Kolbe's office during the protest, but office workers could not hear what the people were saying over the noise the demonstrators made.

A half a day's work was lost, Nick said.

Kolbe said Mount Graham is a public policy issue, and "criminal trespassing goes too far." Their demonstration is not in the realm of legitimate debate, he said. The protesters are not interested in that option, he said.

Justin Britt, a freelance photographer from Tahoe, Calif., was also arrested.

"I was taking pictures of the people arrested and they arrested me," Britt said.

He and Coleman Manchester, owner of Ocotillo Raceway, were driving past the scene when they spotted the police in riot gear, they said. Britt wanted material for his portfolio, he said.

"I saw cops and hippies and I thought it was a good combo," Britt said.

He said that once the officers found out he was not with Earth First! they let him go.

Mejia said he had no information about the photographer.

Gardiner said she identified herself as a photographer from the Wildcat. She said a male officer took her aside and asked if she had any affiliation with the demonstrators.

"I said, 'Hell no, I don't even agree with them'," she said.

One female officer told Gardiner she was being held because they did not want her going back to the protest, Gardiner said.

"I don't think that's true," Mejia responded. "That has nothing to do with her being arrested."