During the 1990’s, a new organization arose to fight against the destruction of the natural environment, they called their selves the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Then in March, 2001 , the Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI), considered the ELF to be the number one domestic terroristic threat within our nation. They began to cause their own destruction, primarily by the means of arson and explosions, to institutes, factories, farms, etc. that they considered exploited the earth’s natural environment or any living specimens. These attacks cost millions of dollars worth of damages to their victims but yet they never harmed or risked the lives of any persons.
In January 2011, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullen released If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, an inside look of the ELF organization, as they followed several activist to learn how the group internally functioned and recollect their involvement in many well-known attacks.
The film centers the life of Daniel McGowan, who was once heavily involved within the organization for several years, which included attacks by arson. Years after his separation with the group, McGowan is on house arrest awaiting his final trial. He, like many, now regrets many of his actions, but acknowledges that he must still take responsibility for what his done.
Daniel McGowan appears to be a very gentle environmentalist, not the extreme radical activist who would protest by arson. McGowan was born in 1974, his father was a New York Police Officer, and he graduated college with a business degree then he went to work for a public relations office. After some time passed and being made aware of the environmental destruction that was taking place, he soon moved to Eugene, Oregon to be apart of the movement. This is where he began his first acts with the organization, acting as a lookout whilst the other members set fire to a timber plant.
The film shows many arguable scenes, so that it is not merely one sided, it demonstrates what the activist are fighting against. Such as an aerial view of the land the timber company has been retrieving their lumber that show vast amounts of forest with large bare areas resembling scars, although the lumber company states that for every tree they cut they replant six more, it is an appalling site to see. Another scene explains the rounding up wild horses on government land and sending them to the slaughterhouse, such as the Cavel West Meat Packing Plant in Oregon. The film says that there instances were so many horses were being processed at once that horse blood would overwhelm the town’s water treatment facility and shut it down. As a response on July 21, 1997, Jake Ferguson, a ELF activist, and other members of McGowan’s cell, snuck into the facility a set fire to it which completely demolished the building, the company never rebuilt. This one act did what 10 years of protesting of the town members could not, it shut down the company.
As mentioned before, many...