Raitt pays fine, gets court supervision for logging protest

"I hope to bring attention to the right all Americans have to peacefully express their opinion in the form of civil disobedience," said the nine-time Grammy winner. "We exercised our right and increased the debate in a peaceful way. It's important to show not all protests are violent."

Chicago Daily Herald
October 3, 2001

Raitt pays fine, gets court supervision for logging protest
Christy Gutowski

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Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt came back to the West suburbs Tuesday, but she wasn't singing the blues.

Raitt appeared in Glendale Heights traffic court along with 16 other environmental activists arrested July 25 after a peaceful protest in Itasca.

The rally, organized by Rainforest Action Network, was intended to draw attention to Boise Cascade's logging practices in some of the nation's most precious forests. The company's office products division is headquartered in Itasca.

"I hope to bring attention to the right all Americans have to peacefully express their opinion in the form of civil disobedience," said the nine-time Grammy winner. "We exercised our right and increased the debate in a peaceful way. It's important to show not all protests are violent."

Police originally charged the protesters with disorderly conduct. Prosecutors agreed to amend it Tuesday to criminal trespassing, which does not require 30 hours of community service to be performed.

One by one, each protester stood before DuPage Associate Judge George Sotos and pleaded guilty to the amended misdemeanor charge. They were sentenced to 90 days of court supervision and ordered to pay $150 in court costs and fines.

John Densmore, former drummer for the Doors, was one of three protesters who did not appear because of travel problems. His case will be continued until later this year.

Last summer, Raitt marched along with about 50 protesters including Densmore and Julia "Butterfly" Hill, the California woman who gained national fame after living in an ancient redwood tree for 736 days until December 1999.

"It's not only our right," Raitt said after court, "it's our responsibility as Americans - as people of conscience - to stand up for just causes."

Rainforest Action Network is a not-for-profit group based in San Francisco that for the past year has protested Boise Cascade's logging of the nation's most ancient trees.

Nearly 80 percent of the nation's old-growth forests are gone, according to Michael Brune, the group's campaigns director. Such forests are identified as those that have never been industrially logged and typically have 2,000-year-old trees.

Most of the remaining old-growth forests are found in the northern Rockies and Alaska. In the Midwest, a few scattered pockets still exist in upper Michigan, northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Boise Cascade, however, denies Rainforest Action Network's charges and accused the organization of distorting its record.

"They are really not as interested in solving environmental problems as they are at attacking and making accusations," said Mike Moser, a company spokesman.

"It only makes sense for us to protect our environment because, 50 years from now, we're still going to need natural resources. We certainly aren't going to go out and ruin it."

Less than 3 percent of its wood product manufacturing operations in 2000 came from old-growth forests, Moser said, and much of that was bought through the federal government. He added Boise Cascade owns 2.3 million acres of forests in five states, each year planting more than 13.5 million new trees.

The company denies Rainforest Action Network's charge that it is behind a challenge made with the IRS concerning the organization's tax-exempt status.

Boise Cascade does admit, however, to sending letters to the group's major fund-raisers, accusing members of attacking the company based on "false premises and accusations."

Without being specific, Rainforest Action Network officials say they may have something else planned for Boise Cascade in the near future. As for Raitt, she intends to continue her activism, just "not in the next 90 days," as required as part of her court supervision.

"I'm a lifelong activist for the environment," Raitt said before heading to O'Hare International Airport. "Standing up for issues of human rights, the environment, peace and justice are always going to be important to me."


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